Star Power: A series 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 they are changing the world.
Don't call Victoria Duffield a triple threat; she's closer to quintuple or septuple in her numbered talents.
The recording artist from Abbotsford, B.C., recently joined forces with Aussie teen heartthrob Cody Simpson for the single "They Don't Know About Us". Duffield co-writes most of her tracks, some in collaboration with songwriters from Justin Bieber's camp. She is also a classically trained pianist, professionally trained dancer in the styles of jazz, hip-hop, tap and ballet, as well as an accomplished actor with more than 30 movie and television appearances to her name.
Don't call her an overnight sensation, either, since she's been performing for 16 years.
Serenading her family with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" at age two turned to Broadway tunes onstage in local competitions by age seven. Today, Duffield is an 18-year-old high school student -- with a 99 per cent average.
Despite the pressures that come with fame, Duffield is known for her strong work ethic, positive attitude, and for devoting some of what little free time she has to perform at charity events. She strives to be a positive role model.
We spent a few minutes with Duffield backstage before her performance at We Day recently. She told us why she'd like to push the continents back together, Pangea style, to help build a more compassionate world.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the world today?
World hunger is a big issue that everyone needs to be aware of. It's something that so many people are struggling with. Food is so abundant in some places and not in others and it's something that people in developed countries can so easily help with.
There are great organizations that send animals rather than baskets of food to developing communities, helping establish sustainability [through animal husbandry and selling milk or eggs, for instance] and enabling people to feed themselves.
You have legions of fans. Who is your hero?
Oprah is a woman who shows her strength and power -- a female icon and someone who has proven herself by standing up to make a difference in the world.
If you could have a socially conscious superpower, what would it be?
I think it would be cool if we could bring all of the continents together. If we were closer, no one could rely on the excuse that it's too difficult to ship supplies, or to simply say, "I'd love to go help people in Africa, but it's too far and I can't afford the flight." We would all benefit from being more connected. It could mean more economic equality -- we could share more easily if there wasn't so much distance between everyone.
We believe in living me to we, helping others instead of just ourselves. What made you decide to give back?
There are so many times I've seen something and then wanted to act. I'm still in high school, and we'll see presentations at school, or commercials on TV, about people who have so little. Yet there's so much food on our tables and we don't even need it. We take it for granted.
There are so many people who don't have clean water, who travel miles for a bucket of water that's not even clean to bring back to their family. And yet how much food and water is wasted every day here in North America? It upsets me how things aren't equal.
What's the greatest lesson you have learned from a parent or mentor?
My mom, when I was younger, whenever I finished something like homework, for instance, she'd say, "Okay great. Are you truly happy with it?" She wanted to make sure that when I completed something -- anything -- that I knew I'd done something to the fullest.
So the lesson: Put all of yourself into whatever you do, so you feel you've represented yourself and put 120 per cent into it.
What kind of legacy would you like to create?
As a performer I have the opportunity to be a positive role model. Hopefully my views are positive and I show that dreams can come true if you work hard. I'd like to be remembered as -- once I'm really able to, once I'm more established -- someone who really helped out with world hunger, helped out children to keep them protected and safe.
What advice would you give others your age?
If you have a dream it can be achieved. You can do something today, you can help out. You don't have to wait until you are an adult to have your dreams come true and to make a difference.
Craig and Marc Kielburger are founders of international charity and educational partner, Free The Children. Its youth empowerment event, We Day, is in 11 cities across North America this year, inspiring more than 160,000 attendees from over 4,000 schools. For more information, visit www.weday.com