Be a STAR with WWE superstar The Miz

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

Follow along, “I’m The Miz, and I’m a Spokesman.”

Not quite the catch phrase you thought but so apropos.

The Miz parlayed his WWE superstardom into becoming a key speaker for the WWE Be a STAR anti-bullying program.

And that makes him awesome.

Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) was founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE in April 2011. The mission is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.

“I think [Be a STAR] is fantastic,” The Miz said. “When I was a kid growing up in Parma, Ohio, I remember getting picked on all the time, being told I wasn’t good enough. I wish I had a WWE superstar or anyone that would have told me to be more vocal about what’s going on. Tell somebody. Tell a parent. Tell an adult. Tell one of your friends. Maybe that will stop the bully.

“Having someone actually motivate people by saying, ‘It’s not cool to pick on someone. Get the person away from the bully, and tell the bully to stop’ is very important. Let’s face it. This is a big problem going on right now in the world.”

The Miz recently returned from Germany for the YOU Convention, where 150,000 students gathered during that weekend.

“I was doing speeches for the Be a STAR campaign in Germany, and it was incredible,” The Miz said. “From the feedback I was getting there, they might be having more problems with it than we’re having.”

Miz does not speak German but still conveyed his Miz-sage through an interpreter.

“It always makes me feel good to go out there and try to make a difference,” he said. “Some people say the best thing about being a WWE superstar is going out there and hearing the audience either boo you or cheer you, but I also think one of the greatest things WWE allows us to do is to do things like the YOU Convention with Be a STAR as well as the Make-a-Wish Foundation. These are ways we can actually make a difference in the world, and I love the fact I have the opportunity to do that.”

Students at the YOU Convention glad, too.

“One of the best questions I got from one of the students was do I think there should be laws against bullying,” The Miz said. “I told that person, ‘It all starts with you. It all starts with each and every one of us to stop bullying, and then we won’t need laws.’”

Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.

WWE divas and superstars like The Miz often make school visits throughout the country (and world) throughout the year, discussing how they dealt with bullying and stereotypes while growing up and even into adulthood. They encourage students to Be a STAR.

“When I was a kid, I remember at John Glenn Elementary School, a Cleveland Browns’ player came to our school, and he told me to eat the right foods, be athletic. He came to our school to give a speech.

“My mom and dad can tell me to get off the video games, don’t eat so much chocolate, but when a Cleveland Brown said it to us, I did get off the video games. I did go outside and play, and I did eat the right foods. So I think [WWE superstars and divas] can make a difference because kids see us like role models, and hopefully I can be a positive one for them.”

When WWE introduced the Be a STAR initiative, several superstars and divas expressed interest.

“[WWE] asked us who would like to be involved, and I was the first to raise my hand,” The Miz said. “When you look at WWE and our audience, it’s kids and young adults. I think [bullying] is a big problem in the world. So we’re making a difference.”

These days physical bullying is just one type of bullying.

“Kids, adults, bullying never stops, especially with Cyber-bullying nowadays,” The Miz said. “Twitter, Facebook, texting, there’s bullying non-stop. You look at Twitter and how negative people are on it.

“I get Tweets that are very negative. I get Facebook messages. You see stuff on YouTube.

“I’m trying to bring a positive message to all those kids -- where instead of writing negative stuff on Twitter -- why not just be more positive with your life, and it will make more people feel better about themselves.

“We also tell kids ways to prevent Cyber-bullying is to ignore it, get rid of it, tell an adult, tell a teacher, tell a friend, talk about it, because the problem is with bullying so many people don’t talk about it. They’re too shy or too scared. If people are more vocal about it, it will prevent it from happening.”

The Miz does not feel his TV persona, especially if he is the heel (bad guy), does not hinder his chances to discuss real-life issues with kids.

“There’s parenting involved where parents need to educate their kids on what’s reality on TV, perception and entertainment. The [WWE] shows that you watch are entertaining and fun,” The Miz said. “That’s also why we do things like Be a STAR to get out the message of our [real life] anti-bullying campaign.”

Miz is always interested in listening to fellow WWE superstar Sheamus during Be a STAR events.

“Sheamus is a big guy [6-4, 267]; he’s pretty tough,” The Miz said, “but growing up he was overweight, and he was picked on a lot as an overweight kid. So his speech is always interesting to me.”

Be a STAR is open to everyone.

“There has been other celebrity involvement as well,” The Miz said. “I just did one with Judah Friedlander from ‘30 Rock,’ who did a fantastic job.

“I think people look at him and say, ‘Oh that’s Judah Friedlander. I know him from 30 Rock,’ but then when he gets up there and starts speaking, you go, ‘Oh wow. This guy has a lot to say as well. Not only is he funny, but he’s very charismatic and has a great message.

“A lot of celebrities are getting on board with the Be a STAR campaign. It’s pretty amazing.”

The Miz receives excellent feedback from principals and teachers at schools like after he addressed students during a Be a STAR rally at John F. Kennedy Middle School in North Miami during WWE WrestleMania Week in March 2012.

“I actually set off a Miz Challenge to all the kids,” The Miz said. “Everyday I want you to compliment someone who you normally wouldn’t compliment. I guarantee you’ll make them feel good, and you’ll feel good.”

The Miz is all in with the Be a STAR program.

“I have a platform to be vocal about things I’ve dealt with, and hopefully it responds well with all the students,” The Miz said. “Be a STAR has allowed me to be more positive in my life.”

• Twitter: @mikethemiz

• For students who are being bullied or who would like to start their own Be a STAR chapter, WWE provides these resources.

https://community.wwe.com/diversity/take-action/students

For teachers who would like to take action against bullying, WWE offers a downloadable teachers guide here:

https://community.wwe.com/diversity/take-action/teachers

• Visit https://community.wwe.com/diversity.

• WWE returns to (South Florida) Sunrise for the first time since 2011 with a live event 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 7 at the BB&T Center.

WWE champ John Cena battles Ryback in a tables match. The Miz, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan battle The Shield.

R-Truth takes on Fandango with Summer Rae. Tons of Funk battles the Rhodes Scholars. Rounding out the card is Zack Ryder versus Antonio Cesaro.

Talent subject to change.

Tickets, starting at $20, are on sale via TicketMaster online www.ticketmaster.com, outlets or by phone 800-745-3000, or you can go to the box office of the BB&T Center, home to the Florida Panthers hockey team.

Visit http://www.thebbtcenter.com/events/detail/wwe-live or http://www.wwe.com/events/06/all/all/all/all/3000/mi/page-1.

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