BullyVille in the Press
Actor Becca Tobin finds it’s not easy being mean
Article by: Julie Beun, Ottawa Citizen
January 03, 2013

Actor Becca Tobin finds it’s not easy being mean

Becca Tobin says it’s been a challenge playing the mean girl on Glee, as she was the target of nasty bullying while in high school.

Becca Tobin started preparing for her first big role as an actress in her senior year of high school. She just didn’t know it at the time.

Blond, pretty and a success at her performing arts high school in Marietta, Georgia, Tobin transferred to another school half way through her final year.

Almost immediately, she was singled out by other girls as the “theatre nerd” and “freak” and ostracized by the one girlfriend she had over threats she, too, would be targeted. By the time a male classmate started sending instant messages that he wanted to “slit her throat,” she was so miserable, she’d already started skipping school events.

Then came her big break in early 2012 while working on Broadway in New York: she landed a coveted — if deeply ironic — role as Kitty, the resident “mean girl” in the “next generation” of the TV series, Glee.

“It was a challenge at first to play the mean girl, because I had to say some really horrible lines,” she says, laughing.

“I have had to think about times that I felt insecure and lashed out in this way to help me play this character. I also have some ‘mean girls’ from my high school that I sometimes channel when Kitty gets really feisty.”

And as is often the case with those who have been bullied, working through the trauma has a sort of back-handed benefit. Although the Glee role is her first major job — she was a cheerleader in Grade 7 and 8, had minor understudy roles and toured with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 2011 — her personal experience has given her unique insight.

“After some time with Kitty, I’m realizing more and more that she’s just an insecure high schoolgirl, and I actually feel for her. She doesn’t have the best way of coping with her insecurities, but I have faith in her.”

Not to mention the faith she now has in herself. Despite working in an industry that doesn’t always make you feel great about yourself, she’s learned to “surround myself with people that make me feel good and cut the toxic ones out of my life.”

It’s a trick she learned from her parents and older sister, who, during the worst of her experiences, advised her to “rise above it and be the better person,” and in the case of the threats by her classmate, interceded and called his parents.

“I wasn’t always great at coping with bullying, but I learned over the years. I would sometimes get so sick of being bullied that I would gain courage to strike back at my antagonists, which rarely made me feel better. I definitely had to learn to rise above the animosity or I would have crumbled into a million pieces.”

Even so, with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook — virtually ubiquitous tools for celebrities — she is still the target of cyberbullying. And as an official spokesperson for Bullyville.com, a U.S.-based website dedicated to supporting victims, she admits it’s increasingly difficult to hold back the tide.

“The Internet has drastically changed the way people interact and has made people more callous,” she observes.

“People say things they would never have the courage to say in person, and it gets really cruel sometimes. Even now, being on the show, I deal with a lot of people saying really mean things to me on Twitter, but I know if I ever met these people that they would never be able to say these things to my face. Or I hope they wouldn’t,” she says, wryly. “When I read these things, I just wish so badly that people could be more sensitive and know how much words can hurt.”

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