|‘Blind Side’ actor talks about bullying|
|October 21, 2016 Jerry Purvis|
Hollywood actor Quinton Aaron is hard to miss – he stands six feet, eight inches tall and wears shoes that are size 22. This week, he’s speaking in Gering and Scottsbluff Public Schools to talk about his life as an actor, and more importantly, the problem of bullying.
Most people will know Aaron for portraying real-life National Football League player Michael Oher in the movie “The Blind Side,” playing opposite Sandra Bullock.
Speaking to a packed Gering High School auditorium the morning of Oct. 18, Aaron said he wasn’t always an imposing figure. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, he was often a target for bullies in elementary school because he was skinny and wore big glasses. He dealt with it by making jokes, which seemed to deescalate the problem.
Aaron told students he never knew his father, so his mother Laura became mother, father and best friend to him. She encouraged him to tell her about what was going on in school, which led to her becoming aware of the bullying problem. So she went to the school principal.
“Mom was my militia back then,” he said. “I thought I’d get bullied more for snitching, but it didn’t happen. I think everyone was afraid of her.”
Laura Aaron, now deceased, wrote the book “Leave Me Alone” based on what her son experienced. It also became a catalyst for Quinton to begin the healing process. So later in life, he established the Quinton Aaron Foundation, with the mission of providing hope, encouragement, confidence and resources to children on the brink of suicide or battling the damaging effects of bullying.
Aaron’s appearance was arranged locally by the ECD (Educate, Communicate and Dedicate) Foundation, which was formed last year to work with the schools to educate the community about the devastating effects of bullying. In addition to speaking to students at Gering, Scottsbluff and Leyton schools, Aaron made several appearances in the community. On October 22, Aaron will be at the Valley Bowl Fun Center at 1702 17th Ave. in Scottsbluff from 6-9 p.m. It’s open to the public and tickets are $15.
Aaron became an actor right out of high school. In addition to “The Blind Side,” he’s appeared in television shows like Land and Order SVU, Harry’s Law, and One Tree Hill. He also has three new films coming out in 2016.
“There’s always an adult around you that went through something similar to what you’re going through,” he told Gering students. “No matter how hard things are in your life, there’s always someone you can talk to. There’s never a time when you’re alone.”