This past week, singing sensation Rihanna spoke with ABC’s Diane Sawyer about what happened between her and ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. The pop star wishes she would’ve never seen Brown after being assaulted by him prior to the 2009 Grammys. The singer expressed regret and disappointment, since she views herself as a role model.
That incident caused the cancellation of Rihanna’s appearance at the awards ceremony and raised questions about her judgment.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Shontelle Layne, an increasingly popular singer from Rihanna’s island homeland of Barbados and a childhood acquaintance of Riri’s. As Shontelle – a friend of CYInterview.com – sees it, celebrities influence society, whether it reflects in the behavior of a million people or just one individual.
The phrase “role model” is one Shontelle believes is something, for better or for worse, that a person in the public eye is tied to; they have a responsibility to live up to that concept. She says Rihanna, who is a few years younger than her, is a very smart girl who is, no doubt, learning and growing from suffering domestic abuse – something that unfortunately touches the lives of many women, each and every day.
Ms. Layne believes, that in the grand scheme of things, there is no denying a person can influence someone else, be it for a brief moment, or even a lifetime; it doesn’t mean, however, they have to be a celebrity.
How many young people will change their views or learn something from what Rihanna said this week? Whatever the case, Shontelle wants to spread positive messages.
Listen to the Shontelle interview:
Chris Yandek: In March of 2009, you said to ABC News regarding what happened with Rihanna and how she handled everything, “Sometimes people say, ‘I’m not trying to be a role model,’ but it comes with the territory,” she said. “Once you’re in the spotlight, people look up to you. If you’re in a position where you can set a good example, that’s what you should try to do.” We now look at this Diane Sawyer interview and it seems like Rihanna now realizes that everything she does will impact girls and even boys everywhere. How does that realization, conclusion for herself make you feel looking back on what you said in March?
Shontelle Layne: “I am so proud of her. I really am. I’m very, very proud. Despite what, people are going to try to make their judgments, but she’s a very smart girl. She’s very intelligent and she’s a young woman. She’s growing. She’s learning. I’m so proud of her. I’m so, so proud to see her stepping forward and opening and exposing herself in this way because that really is what she’s doing. I’m really glad too. I’m very proud of her.”
CY: I like to use the word role model with you because it’s something you’ve tried to emphasize through your entire young music career. When you say the world role model and you look at society and you look at how much is effected on society, how much do you think someone like you someone like her effects the general public when something happens?
SL: “I really do believe that people in the spotlight for lack of a better word – like you mentioned I said, they do. People do look up to them. Young people. Old people. People who aspire to be just like them. What they say is usually taken very seriously. What they do is usually taken very seriously. I feel like role model in that respect, what that just really means is that you are in a position where rather you like it or not or whether it’s your intention or not, there are going to be people who are watching you and paying close attention to your every move and that are going to be influenced by your actions and the things that you say.
It’s up to the individual whether that means anything to them or not. Personally, I would like to try, I would hope that I can use the fact that I am in the spotlight or there is a focus, there is attention on me to just be positive, spread positivity however I can, give inspiration and motivate people. That’s just personally for me what I prefer to do because at the end of the day as I said to you before, I am the eldest of three sisters.
And naturally I am in a position where I have two younger females looking up to me. Just naturally even from that perspective I try my best to always present myself in a way people can gain something positive from or I can inspire and influence someone in a positive way.”
CY: You’re a celebrity. You have your base of people. They know where to find you online. You reach out to them and they’re impacted by you in a certain way. So you’re giving them something to look forward to. How far, deep do you think this influence goes? When we get back to the word of the role model, how deep does this truly go you think? Is it truly something that could impact millions of girls or hundreds of thousands girls whether something negative or positive happens? Do you really believe that?
SL: “I think there are number of factors that could be involved and truthfully it really does come down to the individual because personally, I’ve seen so many things in my life but you get to a certain point of your life where you make your own decisions and you have to learn, you pay attention to the world. Each individual has a different response to every action. In that regard, I feel like it’s still a personal thing, but at the same time circumstances make me who I am. We live in this world together.
It’s almost impossible not to be effected by the things that happen around us and it has a lot to do with conditioning in my opinion so that it all comes down to what you pay attention to because so much things could be going around the world, but if you pay attention to Beyonce or you are obsessed with a particular person. And I just used Beyonce as an example.
You could be affected by their actions and be conditioned by their behavior and so on because you have made that reality. That’s what you have chose to pay attention to. And there are other times where you don’t choose what you’re exposed to and you are effected I think psychologically by the things that go on around you. I feel like that effects your mentality and there are different, many, factors that can be involved.
I do still feel that as long as you’re in the spotlight and many people are focusing their attention on you it does lie that potential for you to actually, literally affect someone’s decisions. It could be thousands. It could be millions. It could be a couple hundred. It could be one, but somebody’s going to be affected.”
You can find Shontelle on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/shontelle_layne
Shontelle’s official website is http://www.shontellemusic.com