Star Power: A six-pack of questions for celebs making a difference.
Craig and Marc Kielburger, founders of Free The Children and Me to We, check in with some of their favourite actors, singers and activists to find out how and why they are changing the world.
Energetic and empathetic and always stylish, Kay Boutilier -- better known by her stage name "My Name is Kay" or MNIK for short -- rocked the We Day stage in Vancouver last week.
A Cape Breton native, after high school she headed to Vancouver to try to make a name for herself. It was a struggle, so she turned to YouTube to release her first video for the song My Name is Kay. It got the attention of the right people, and gained her many fans. She signed major deals with record labels in Canada and the U.S. Kay now lives in Los Angeles and recently toured with Hedley and LMFAO.
At We Day, she got the 20,000 young people, and even some of their teachers, on their feet dancing. We got an opportunity speak with the 25-year-old backstage about the issues that matter most to her.
And by the way, her name is Kay.
On any given day, we know that education for girls, world hunger and global warming are important issues. What's the biggest issue to you?
I think education is extremely important because if you can be educated then that can lead to a lot of other positive things, like lead to ways of stopping hunger. If you know better, you can possibly do better. And not everyone knows better, and not everybody has the education to know they deserve better.
You've got fans that look to you as a role model; who is your hero?
I have a lot of heroes but someone like Ellen DeGeneres comes to mind because she is just wow. She is so kind and so empathetic and she could just stand in the corner of a room and probably light it up. You can tell that she doesn't have a bad bone in her body and she is just always trying to reach people, and teach them to love one another.
I love watching her show, with the dancing and everything, it is just so silly. Life is short and she gets that, so why not just have fun? She does it at the level where a lot of people get that, whether they are five years old or 60.
She's actually a pretty good dancer, but that's not why she dances. She dances because she loves to. There is nothing more beautiful than a person who is happy and smiling.
If you could have a socially conscious superpower and change one thing about the world, what would it be?
If I had a superpower I believe it would be to be able to just touch somebody and create unwavering faith inside of them. No matter what the situation is, if you have faith -- I don't mean religious faith, but that little something inside of you that no matter how bad it gets, says "you can do this" -- that is an extremely powerful thing.
I think sometimes people lose that faith and that is a very sad and dangerous thing. You can be very educated and have a full stomach but if you've lost faith it doesn't matter.
We're all about living me to we: making choices that positively impact the world, instead of just ourselves. Describe the moment you decided you wanted to give back.
There have definitely been a few moments in my life where I realized that it's bigger than just me. In the music industry, the kind of work I do, it can be very self-serving. But a big moment for me was when I found out my mother had Huntington's disease.
It just made me realize that life is short and we need to appreciate the people around us. And also, be as empathetic as we can to people.
My mother's situation made me realize that you never know what is going on in somebody's life. They might seem cold or depressed or distant or something and we just have no idea what is going on. It might be their health or whatever is going on at home. We have to reach out instead of react against them.
I am so close to my mom and I think, "Oh my God, I just love this person, and people don't understand what she is going through."
Her diagnosis made me realize that it's just very important to spend your time on earth trying to brighten other people's days. Sure, it's important to do things for yourself, but be aware of other people and what is going on with them. I can road rage a little bit. But I remind myself to ask, "What is going on with that person?"
If people from the future were talking about you, what would you want them to say? What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
That I was just a very positive person and I made them laugh. That's typically my solution to everything, to try to make people laugh.
We work with so many young people. Looking back, what advice would you give your high school self?
Looking back, wow I would give myself so much advice. I would tell me to stand up for myself and for others, be a good friend, to others and to yourself. And I think I would say to be really proud of who you are. In high school everyone is always trying to fit in -- that happens after high school, too -- growing up being made fun of because I had freckles, it's such a silly thing, but as a kid it was traumatic.
But I was also very fortunate. I went to an all-girls school. I was very dramatic and artistic and it was a place where I was around a lot of other girls. That probably sounds crazy to anybody in high school right now, it's important as a woman to create good relationships with other women. Guys will always be there.
What was the greatest lesson you learned from a parent or mentor?
One of my favourite pieces of advice came from Kathy Griffin, who I think was quoting someone else. But she said, "Never say no to an opportunity." And she said to never think that you're above something, because you're not.
I really try to keep that in mind. I think it's important to stay humble and whenever I'm asked to do something I go for it. I have done interviews that are with seven-year-olds and they don't have a clue what they are doing and they are putting it up on YouTube and I just say "yes, yes, yes" to everything because who cares. Everybody is human and we're all important. It feels good to say "yes."
Craig and Marc Kielburger are founders of international charity and educational partner, Free The Children. Its youth empowerment event, We Day, is in eight cities across Canada this year, inspiring more than 100,000 attendees. For more information, visit www.weday.com
Follow Craig and Marc Kielburger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/craigkielburger