Emily Osment talks CYBERBULLY

Be sure to tune in or set the DVR for their all new original movie CYBERBULLY (premiering tonight on ABC Family), starring Emily Osment and Kay Panabaker, along with Kelly Rowan.  CYBERBULLY tells the story of how an innocent connection with an unknown person online can literally spiral out of control, and at the center of it is Emily Osment’s Taylor, a 16 year old with a fractured family history, and an enemy in the form of the “popular mean girl” type that every high school has.  I had a chance to speak with Emily about how she got involved in this movie and why it’s a movie that people should be watching!

I watched the movie – I really moved by it.
Oh that’s good, that’s what we were going for [laughs]

How did you get involved in this role / this movie?
ABC Family approached me with this film a while back.  I almost missed the meeting!  I was leaving to go out of the country, in like, literally 6 hours, and it was like, oh we really want you to come in, I think this will be a really good opportunity.  I read the script before I went in, and I liked it.  I liked the character a lot, and I think that’s truly what drove me to sort of wanting to do this movie so badly.  The character takes such a huge journey, and it’s such a huge character arc throughout this entire movie, in regard to her starting off as a normal teenager.  She’s very insecure in her family, she comes from a broken home, and if anyone sort of attacks her in any way, you know, verbally or online, she just shuts down.  She doesn’t know how to deal with that.  You go from a very insecure girl to the lowest of her lows, to climbing the ladder back to being stronger.  I thought it was a very good opportunity, sort of outlined with this great message about cyber-bullying.

Cyber-bullying has been getting so much more coverage in the news these days right up there with the physical aspect of bullying.  How did you prepare for the role, did you meet with people that are experiencing this?
I didn’t; my mom’s a teacher, and I spoke with her for a long time about what she sees at her school, and the type of bullies that she comes across and how she deals with them.  That was kind of enough for me.  And then from there it was getting into the character.  I did the appropriate amount of research, when it came to getting into the mind of someone who’s been bullied, but the rest of it, it’s taking the script and analyzing it, and saying, okay, why is this girl acting this way? And why is she so insecure, and why does she let this bother her so much.  That’s the way I studied for it!

Everyone’s dealt with some sort of bullying in their past, so there’s always something relatable in a way to words or actions bringing someone down.  Why do you think that this is a movie that people should be tuning into?
This is a really good film.  This is a film that has a very strong message, and a message that’s being conducted in a different way.  I mean, we’ve seen people talking about cyberbullying on the internet, and Michelle Obama has a campaign against it, and you know Seventeen magazine is doing their part.  This is an entire film about cyberbullying.  I can’t begin to explain how many comments I’ve gotten on Twitter, and fan mail that say, Thank you so much for doing this film, because now people can see what it’s truly like, and what I’ve experienced.  Or “Oh my gosh, I went through that in middle school;” whatever it is.  People are connecting with it already, and it’s not even out.  I think does a very good job for getting all of the viewers into the mind of someone who is bullied, and how just disgusting it is, and how gross, and how terrible these people are that can do something like this to someone.  It’s unacceptable and we’re trying to make a difference, and we’re trying to show how to change it, and I’m very happy that there’s such a big campaign around it.

Talking a little bit about Deleting Digital Drama – how are you involved in this campaign?
Yes, Delete Digital Drama!  I think I’m some sort of ambassador for it, I’m not sure [laughs].  I believe that’s the case; I just had a conversation about it yesterday.  I’m doing sort of like a Delete Digital Drama rally in Glendale next week.  I’m going to be performing a song that I wrote for the film, wrote and produced the song, that I think sort of captures the pain that this character was going through.  That’s really interesting.  I’ve never written a song for a particular scene in a movie. It’s very bizarre; doing a soundtrack is very strange.  I get to get out and perform it, and they let me talk about the movie, and talk about cyber bullying, in general, and truly all we’re trying to do is get the attention about what we’re doing.

I related to the movie, even though I wasn’t a teenager dealing with cyber drama, so it’s definitely something that people should be watching.
Yeah, I think everyone can really relate to this, whether it’s the bully themself, or the person being bullied, or the parents that are trying to deal with a kid who’s being bullied right now.  One of my best friends is, her little brother’s friend is going through something, and she’s trying to do her part, and she’s so far away from being connected to this kid, and she’s like, I’m going to take my brother’s friend to a concert, you know, we should go out or something.  It’s so funny that all of this is happening right around this film; I’m starting to notice it more, the goodness of people when they’re trying to make a difference when it comes to someone who is bullied.  And I notice it more in my friends who see it in other people.  It’s everywhere.  It’s in the home, it’s at school, it’s in the work place.  You can’t get away from it.

A big question that came up when I asked fans for questions – how has this movie affected going forward?  It sounds like it has in a big way.
In general, I think it’s helped me understand a little bit more, the pain that people go through.  I wasn’t bullied in high school; I’ve never dealt with a serious confrontation with a bully or anything, and I think doing this film helped me realize that I always thought people who are bullied, like “oh they just need thicker skin” or “they’re taking it too hard.  Make a joke about it, it’s not that big a deal!”  I think, with this movie, it is huge.  This can be your entire life, especially with cyber bullying.  It’s on the internet, it never goes away.  It follows you into your house; I think I have a greater understanding and a lot more empathy for people that are going through it.

What else besides CYBERBULLY do you have coming up that we can look forward to?
I just wrote and produced a song for the movie, and I’m going to be performing that.  My band and I have some tour dates that are coming up.  And I’m going to school in the fall.  Hopefully a movie in between that.  We’ll see.  I’m just waiting it out right now, and enjoying the summer!  It’s so hot, I can’t not enjoy it!

CYBERBULLY premieres tonight at 8/7c on ABC Family.