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Interview | Benni Cinkle

August 22, 2012
By: Megan Washington

You’ve experienced bullying because of a role in a viral video. How did you personally overcome all of the negativity?
It was no easy feat to just look past the haters and laugh at myself, but I think it did come easier for me than it would for most. I’ve grown up in a family where we all laugh at each other and we learn that it’s not personal. Having three brothers poking fun at me made me realize that it’s okay to let others laugh at you or something you’ve done. The most important thing to remember is that it’s all in good fun and then, you can laugh at yourself as well.

If you could tell other victims one thing, what would you tell them?
I would tell them to keep their heads up. Don’t let what other people say about you, bother you! The way I see it, the things they say fall into two categories: true and not true. If it’s not true, then let it go. They can say whatever they want, and it doesn’t change who you are. If it is true, admit it and laugh about it! Nothing throws a bully more off balance than when their intended victim laughs alongside them.

You turned your experience into That Girl In Pink to help other victims. What kind or resources are available to people through your website?
On there are links to other websites and phone numbers to counselors that can help kids who are in crisis or who need someone to talk to. Also, anybody can email me directly at any time to talk about what they’re going through. Sometimes just talking helps keep things in perspective. I’m here, and I don’t judge.

What is your overall goal with That Girl In Pink?
That Girl In Pink Foundation is dedicated to the prevention of teen suicide. Our goal is to help kids and teens that are in crisis, and help them realize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

This summer you released your second single, “Gotta Get Out” which delivers a message of hope. What inspired the song?
The song was inspired by kids across the country to whom I delivered my Don’t Just Stand There Presentation. A lot of them are from small towns (I’m talking like, population 1500) and some the kids there dream of doing something more than the town expects of them. A lot of times, those chains are hard to break. And when a friend of mine, Vincent Covello, showed me this song he had written, he told me that he thought I should sing it.

Part of the proceeds of the song are being donated to Children of the Night. How did you select that specific charity?
We selected Children of the Night because “Gotta Get Out” tells kids that they can travel to whatever city they want to and live their dreams. But I know that a lot of times kids run away from a bad situation at home before they are able to support themselves and Children of the Night is an organization that helps runaway kids, so donating to them made a lot of sense.

What are your current plans for your music–do you intend to release an album?
Music is just a hobby for me and I don’t plan on making it a career, so I’m not planning on releasing an album anytime soon; my main plans for the future are to continue through school and to keep helping children and teens through my non-profit.

I noticed you posting about the Angels and Mike Trout on your twitter. Are you a big baseball fan? If so, how did you get into the game?
Oh. My. Gosh. I love baseball. I guess I’ve just kind of grown up around it, my dad loves it and we have season tickets to the Angels. Mike Trout is my favorite player (he plays left field, I played left field when i was in softball as a kid, so we have a connection.) and while on vacation recently, I got a henna tattoo of a trout with the number 27 in it, because that’s Mike Trout’s number. I’ve tweeted the picture to him, but, sadly, he hasn’t responded….(yet!).

You have had speaking engagements at schools. How did you become comfortable speaking to your peers about subjects that can sometimes be uncomfortable for people to talk about?
At first, it was hard for me to be able to speak about hat happened to me, solely because it was so embarrassing. But I pushed past that and realized that someone needs to do something about it. Kids need to hear this message, and they need to hear it from someone their age. There are adults going around talking about bullying, but there are two problems with that: 1) all the kids are probably thinking the same thing: “what do you know?” and 2) I think it’s kind of an instinct of kids to do the exact opposite of what adults tell them to do. So I decided that it’s important for me to spread my message. It’s important for me to not just talk about it, but go out there and get hands-on with the issue.

What would you like to say to your fans and supporters?
To my fans and supporters, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for helping me through this, and thank you for persuading me to do all this. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for the kids who made the Facebook page for me two years ago, the kids who emailed me and asked for help, and the kids who believed in what I had to say and spread the message themselves. Thank you.

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