Actor Quinton Aaron made a big impression in his first lead role in the film The Blind Side
, where he played Michael Oher. The film was based on the true story of a football player's rise to notoriety and the family that supported him. Sandra Bullock played his mother, winning an Academy Award in the process.
Since then Quinton has guest starred on television shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
and Drop Dead Diva
He has used his new found fame to start a charity, The Quinton Aaron Foundation, to bring awareness to bullying and childhood obesity.
Jerry Nunn talked to him when he made a stop in Chicago spreading the word.JN:
(Jerry Nunn) Hi, Quinton. Where are you from?QA:
(Quinton Aaron) I was born and raised in New York for twelve years then moved to Georgia. I went to middle school and high school down there.JN:
Did you like it down there?QA:
It was a big change. It took some getting used to but it was better for us than going to a New York high school.JN:
Where were you bullied?QA:
A lot of it was in New York. It was in elementary school and the main reason that my mom decided to move us to the South. My grandparents lived in Georgia so that is why we moved down there.JN:
So your mother really sacrificed to move there.QA:
She really did. We gave up all that New York pizza!JN:
Well the South has it's own kind of good food. Bullying has been going on for so long...QA:
It has and something you deal with as a child. You feel like when you get older it will stop but sometimes it doesn't, People even deal with it on more drastic levels. It has become an epidemic. I feel like it is evolving. Now there is cyber bullying as well. You don't have to be in the same atmosphere to talk mess about them and still have that same effect on them.
I feel it takes a village. It is not going to just take me but I hope to be the voice to get people to understand that we all need to work together to help put an end to it.JN:
Have you seen the movie Bully?QA:
I haven't yet. We are trying to get a copy to watch on the bus during this tour. I definitely want to check it out.JN:
How were you bullied when you were younger? I can't imagine people bullying you.QA:
I was a skinny little kid when I was younger. I had glasses. I used to get chased by older kids that had brothers that were gang members. I was scared of what they could do to me. I didn't have an older brother to run to and defend me. I would run from them but sometimes they would catch me and beat me up. My mom would put me in self defense classes.JN:
That was smart. I want to meet her.QA:
Unfortunately she passed in 2008. She was my best friend. She is the reason that I am who I am today.JN:
Did she see you in The Blind Side
No. She submitted me for it and got me the audition but didn't get to see it.JN:
Talk about the experience of that movie.QA:
It was awesome going through the whole process. Doing the movie I never expected any of it. I was happy to be where I was. I was proud to be there and took it all in. The red carpet at the Oscars was amazing. When I was in there I didn't expect The Blind Side to win anything. Then Sandra wins Best Actress. I couldn't believe it.JN:
It is important to the movie when it wins an Academy Award because more people will watch it.QA:
Definitely and still gets lots of buzz to this day.JN:
Sandra Bullock must have meant a lot to you.QA:
I still keep in touch with her to this day. I was just in a Chicago recently where I met Michael Oher.JN:
You had never met?QA:
We met one time when he was running out on the field but with this recent autograph signing we actually got to talk and chat a bit.JN:
How did you study him then if you hadn't met?QA:
The director didn't want me to study him. He told me that Michael today is nothing like he was at that time and has evolved. They didn't want me to act like him in the movie because it was two totally different characters. The director just wanted me to be myself and put my emotions into the character.JN:
What did he think of the job you did?QA:
He liked it. The only thing he was ticked off about was that in the movie he didn't know how to play football and had to learn. In real life he was a natural athlete.JN:
You worked with Channing Tatum?QA:
I did, in his movie Fighter. After I wrapped my last day of filming the movie they asked me to be security. so I became his security guard.JN:
How was being on Drop Dead Diva?QA:
That was fun. We shot in Atlanta. The cast was amazing. There was a lot of southern hospitality and Josh Berman is a good guy. We were supposed to have drinks but I had to go on this tour.JN:
So there are a lot of dates on the tour. Are you speaking at schools?QA:
Along the way we are speaking at schools. Some are reaching out to us such as New Orleans did the other day to have us speak. We do meet and greets for autograph signings. That helps support the tour and pays for this big bus here.JN:
What do you hope the tour accomplishes?QA:
It is raising awareness of our foundation, our mission and what we want to accomplish in our traveling. It is being more hands on as opposed to being a PSA. It is putting it out there and visiting different states. It is great to meet people, give advice, and listen. I am not a doctor or anything and I don't counsel them but I tell them what I have been through and how I got out of it. I hope it encourages them to work harder.
We hope people will change their ways. We reach out to the bully as well as the person being bullied. Everyone has a story. You never know why people do some of the things they do. I feel like some of the kids that are shooting at schools are actually the victims themselves.
All I know is that it takes a village to stop this.Visit www.quintonaaron.org for more information on The Quinton Aaron Foundation.