Peer pressure is no joke, and high school senior Geena Ciambelli knows the importance of being true to yourself. She used this theme when she pitched to the “Made By Me” high school challenge being put on by Above the Influence — and she won!
As the winner, she went to New York and made her very own Above the Influence PSA. Check out the awesome spot:
+ Watch “Above the Influence: Made by Geena.”
+ Watch a behind the scenes look of Geena’s PSA.
MTV Act spoke with 17-year-old Geena to learn more about making the PSA, why this issue matters to her, and how she stays above the influence.
ACT: How did you first hear about the contest and why did you decide to apply?
GEENA: I heard about it at the end of my school year last year in the media club. I decided to apply because I’m interested in film and making videos with my friends. I thought this would be an awesome opportunity to make a commercial.
ACT: Tell us about making the PSA. Sounds like it was a fun process. What did you learn from it?
GEENA: I went to New York. We’d already done web chats over the summer with the director, Tommy. We talked about ideas and we did animatics, which is what you do before you do animation. I learned that it takes so many people to make a real commercial. Even though it’s 30 seconds long, it takes hard work. All different people from different companies came together to make this work.
Photo: Geena doing voice overs for the PSA that she helped to create. (Above The Influence)
ACT: You mentioned in a video that some family members battled with substance abuse. You realized that you wanted to stay away from drugs after seeing what they went through. Can you talk about your experience a bit more?
GEENA: Two of my family members have been doing drugs on and off. They both can’t keep jobs. Their mothers and dads have a really hard time seeing them, because it’s their child, going through that. They’ve been in and out of rehab, both of them, and in jail and stuff. One of them has a baby she really can’t take care of it. Her mom has to take care of it. My other family member got arrested recently for selling heroin. So it’s always kind of been around me and I don’t want to get into that kind of stuff.
ACT: Peer pressure is everywhere. So is the sense of feeling FOMO. How do you stay above the influence?
GEENA: Basically, I try to stay true to myself. I don’t let people influence me. I know who I am and if I feel uncomfortable with something, I’m not going to do it. I think a big part of it is having the right group of friends. If I had a group of friends I didn’t feel comfortable saying, “No” to, that wouldn’t be good. My friends understand and they don’t pressure me to do things I don’t want to do.
Photo: Geena, on the left, with her friends. (Above The Influence)
ACT: Do you have advice for friends and peers on how they can stay above the influence too?
GEENA: Make decisions based on whether you’re going to be proud of it. Don’t do things because other people want you to do something. Do what you feel is right at the end of the day.
If you or a friend is worried about drinking or drug use please check out Half Of Us for resources and tips on getting help.