Video empowerment

Chad Kopal of Chad's Media videos local youth as part of a music video created to increase awareness about bullying and various types of abuse. Featured is Beth Crowley's “I Am Not Nothing,” a song she said was inspired by C.J. Davidson's book, “A Daughter's Curse.” The video is now live on Davidson's Facebook page.

Filming has wrapped and the music video for “I Are Not Nothing, ” Beth Crowley’s song inspired by C.J. Davidson’s debut “A Daughter’s Curse,” is officially live. 

“For now, it's only on my official Facebook page and I will be uploading it to my website later,” Davidson said. 

And, it was filmed and completed Oct. 29. Davidson had hoped to be able to host a big release event, but when that didn’t work out. However, she was very pleased to post it Oct. 29, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The video, like the book that inspired the song, is dedicated to those affected by domestic violence.

“A Daughter’s Curse, ” Davidson said, comes from the tales she envisioned to mentally if not physically distance her from a difficult childhood. Davidson’s imagination was the thing that got here through, until someone interceded to change her situation.

She wrote out her imaginings and published the book, in the hope that it was inspire others experiencing tough life situations to be brave like the main character, Brisnay, to be a survivor, to realize it’s OK to seek help, that people do care and can provide assistance, even in the most dire of circumstance.

“A Daughter’s Curse” inspired Crowley to write “I Am Not Nothing,” featuring that message from the book. The song encourages people who may be experiencing any form of abuse to realize it’s not OK, they don’t have to remain in that situation, that they can choose to act and survive.

Davidson decided to make the video in an effort to show that abuse comes in many forms, but is never acceptable. She said she wants to make others aware that abuse knows no bounds; it affects people of all shapes and sizes, and walks of life; abuse can and does affect people of all ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds and other differences, male and female. 

“The unfortunate reality is that someone you are friends with, could be struggling with situations of abuse, domestic violence or bullying. Lives can be changed when we share that there is a way out,” Davidson said.

Thus, the music video features a diverse cast and various acts of abuse, set to Beth Crowley’s song. 

The video was shot in a way that provides scenarios involving domestic abusers, a student being bullied at school and a woman surviving sexual assault after being roofied at a bar — without being too explicit. All of these instances end with help offered for those affect, with those affect as survivors, not victims.

If you look you just might see a few faces or places you recognize. 

“The talent used for the video was all local — from the videographer to the cast. Even the places we filmed at were local. But what's most important is the positive message the video will give. I hope more lives are touched. That is the goal,” Davidson said.

The cast donated their time to share the message that “Abuse of any kind is NOT okay,” that there is help available and, no matter what an abuser says, everyone has worth.

“It is a wonderful message that I think everyone should relate to in their own way,” said Grace Mansfield, a North Hopkins ISD student who has acted with Main Street Theatre for five years, portrays the daughter of a woman abused by her husband.

John Mooney portrays Mansfield’s father, a domestic abuser in the video. The Sulphur Springs resident, whose prior acting experience was playing several rolls in a trailer for a family member’s book, learned about the audition on social media. Not a reader and a radio listener, he said he’d never even heard of “A Daughter’s Curse.” Mooney said he listened to “You Are Not Nothing” once and knew he wanted “the chance to be part of a strong message,” particularly “for people struggling with bad things in life.”

Zachariah Goodson, a Sulphur Springs High School student who says he loves the song and it’s message, in the video plays the part of a student being bullied by classmates, being knocked down in the hall and having things tossed at him including a paper that says “you are nothing.”

Having seen seeing similar experiences at school, Goodson saw being in the video as a means to help spread the word about what to do to stop such behaviors.

“This is what I have to say to those going through this: Don’t Ever let someone make you feel less of a person that you are, you have greatness in you. It’s not your fault that other people don’t realize that. So never walk with head down, always walk with your head up like you have a purpose because you do, and be confident in what you do,” Goodson said, noting that 

That message is emphasized throughout the song, like Davidson’s book, which has a girl overcoming situations, and growing into her own power and worth. “I survived tonight, I am taking back my life and I will show you, I am not nothing.”

Sulphur Springs Middle School student Zachariah Walker, who plays a student who wants to help his bullied friend and classmate in the video, said he’d heard the song and found it very inspiring. So, when a friend told him about the cast call for the video, he knew it was a project he wanted to be involved in. 

“I wanted to be a part of the video because I like to stand up for what's right. My mom taught me that. I believe that nobody deserves to be bullied,” Walker said.

Emily Armstrong portrays one of the bullies to Goodson’s character. The 13-year-old Sulphur Springs resident, trained competitive dancer, said her mom learned of the video cast call from author Davidson, and told her about it. That prompted Armstrong to check out to do a little research.

“I listened to Beth’s song a lot after I heard about the casting audition. It’s giving a strong message out to everyone and it’s just really powerful,” Armstrong said.

The teen was excited at the prospect of auditioning for the video, but hadn’t really considered portraying that type of role

“I am proud to be in the video because it’s giving out a really good message to the world, and I wanted to be apart of something meaningful. At first, I was hesitant to play the ‘bully,’ but realized that’s part of acting and the story needed that person to make the message strong.”

Sulphur Springs resident Carson McIllwain was roped into what he believed to be a small part in a music video by his former high school theater pal Sydnee Hawkins, who portrays a sexual assault survivor in the video.

McIllwain hadn’t read Davidson’s book or listened to “You Are Not Nothing,” and had already “kinda agreed to participate” before he realized what the video was about or that he’d been dubbed to play the “attacker” of Hawkins’ character, a guy who roofied a young woman in a bar. But, he decided, “this video is an important thing to a lot of folks and it deserves some attention.”

“The song has a good message and should be heard by more people. And, filling a position in the music video will help make that possible. Somebody had to play that part, and I guess she [Hawkins] thought of me because she assumed I could play whatever was thrown at me. ... I think the song has lyrics that will resonate with a lot of people who have been hurt. If you don’t believe me read the comments on the official lyric video for the song,” McIllwain said.

Sydnee Lynn Hawkins, know locally for her many vocal and theater performances (including auditioning and making it several rounds of competition for American Idol and The Voice), said she saw a local news broadcast about the cast call. She also was unfamiliar with the book or song, so she “looked up a summary of the book for a better understanding.”

“I thought it would be interesting to be apart of this music video project to bring awareness to sexual assault, domestic violence and bullying because so many people deal with these hardships on a daily basis. I had not participated in any film work before, so I was intrigued by the whole process. I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to share the hope of the song/book by being apart of this music video,” Hawkins said.

In order to prepare for her role as sexual assault victim, Hawkins said she listened to Crowley’s song numerous times.

“I think the song ‘I Am Not Nothing’ is a beautifully written song that really captures the story of many that have experienced such tragedies and the hope of overcoming that self doubt and fear. ... I want this video to touch many lives. I know this may seem small but I think the impact will be huge. I hope our audience can appreciate all of the hard work and long hours all of the cast, crew and others have put into making this happen!” said Hawkins, who is also the daughter of cast members John Mooney and Susan Hawkins-Mooney, who portrays the “piano lady” in the video.

Teresa Andrade Wood, a native of Edinburg whose called Sulphur Springs home since 1994, portrays the mother of Hawkins character in the video, however. Wood said she became acquainted with Davidson when the author introduced herself at the SAFE-T office, where Wood serves as a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate. Wood said the author described her book, the song and pending video, then asked her be in the video.

“I consider it an honor to be part of something that more awareness needs to be done.  As a victim of DV, there is a special place in my heart for those who are going through this, or have been through this, and think there is no one that understands or there is no help for them,” Wood said. 

Ultimately, Davidson said, she hopes that those affected by domestic violence might see the video and realize “there is help, no matter how dire your situation may seem.”

Anyone affected, who doesn’t have someone to confide in for help, Davidson encourages to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to seek help. 

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