MANATEE — “American Idol” and “Dreamgirls” star Syesha Mercado recalls being called “outcast” to her face because she had “weird, crazy, curly, Afro puff hair,” many of her male friends were gay and she was a total theater “geek.”
It’s because of those memories of bullying that the 23-year-old former Bradenton resident and Booker High School graduate wanted to tell her story at “Dreaming for Tomorrow,” a community anti-bullying forum held before 175 adults and children Monday at Bradenton Boys & Girls Club.
“I’m here today because every time I turn around, I hear about bullying, and because in high school I had weird curly hair and my friends wore leotards and dance pants and we all got picked on,” said Mercado, who opens today before hundreds of her friends and family as the fictional pop star Deena Jones in the touring Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.
Mercado’s message to the students was that bullying will never stop, even getting more pronounced and taking different forms the more success you have. The secret is to let someone you trust know it is happening and then achieve peace in yourself by accepting the bullying is the bully’s problem, not yours.
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