Student-actor asks 'What Have We Done'
By Paul Mayne
January 10, 2013
Fourth-year Western student Gucio Jim-Poweski knows all about bullying. He recalls, as a child in elementary school, being teased by fellow students.
“I was bulled mainly for my language barrier,” said Jim-Poweski, a Science/Social Science student. “My family is Polish and when we came to Canada our language wasn’t on par with other folks. They would teach me swear words and say they were nice words to say to the teacher.”
Bullying would continue during high school, but Jim-Poweski emersed himself in school committees and advocacy work, where he would end up becoming friends with London-area motivational singer and speaker Saidat. He would invite her positive message of change and inspiration to his school.
The pair would keep in touch and, just this past year, would meet again, this time to collaborate on a movie project around bullying.
What Have We Done is a 20-minute short film which turns the mirror toward its audience, forcing viewers to look at themselves and recognize how they treat others has a large impact on society.
The movie will premiere Jan. 25 at the Wolf Performance Hall at the downtown London Public Library, with admission being a donation to the London Anti-Bullying Coalition.
Saidat invited Jim-Poweski to read for the lead role of Brandon, a tormented teenager at the end of his rope. While having done some minor roles at school, this was the first time he had auditioned for a movie of any kind.
“She put out an open call and I remember her saying to me that she was working on a movie and that I should audition,” said the 21-year-old. “I went in figuring that at least I’d try and give it a shot, and perhaps I could get an extra role, which would be great.”
Saidat loved what she saw and immediately gave Jim-Poweksi the lead.
“She really loved my work. I remember they called me later and told me they really liked my audition, and that I made them cry.”
The movie, filmed in Toronto, is based on a real-life bullying situation. While there is no full dialogue, a few lines are tossed in throughout the performance.
“Part of the reason for this is because bullying has become very intersectional, it involves homophobic bullying, ethnic bullying and other forms,” said Jim-Poweski, a member of Social Science Student Council and Campus Issues chair for the University Students’ Council. “One of the main things we wanted to try to do was make it accessible in all language styles, for any culture.”
He quickly came to the realization it does not matter what role you play in a bullying situation, every person has an impact on the result. He and the other actors brought their own personal experiences to their characters.
“I have been bullied and I have been a bully,” Jim-Poweski said. “Nowadays there are a lot more venues to bully folks, especially with social media and the after-effects that has. As a bystander, you need to be empowered to intervene in the situation. You hold a lot of power. You can intervene. If you can’t, like if you don’t feel safe, you need to consult the victim and ask if they need help.”
He added talking to a teacher or parent can also go a long way to get the dialogue started.
“There are plenty of folks out there who are willing to support you and help you take a stand,” Jim-Poweski said. “We live in a world with seven billion people, and there are so many individuals, each with their own lives, but together we make up this giant collectivity called life. If one person can make a difference, together we can change the world, and I firmly believe that. There is strength in numbers.”
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