You may know her as the “The Singing Waitress” from “American Idol,” but there’s a lot more to Devyn Rush that we didn’t learn from the show. She’s also passionate about child advocacy, and works with students on bully prevention. Take a look at one of her videos about bullying and you see raw emotion; she’s been through the tough times and now helps youths who are being bullied see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I talked with Devyn about how “American Idol” changed her life, her new music projects, and her involvement with the Hey U.G.L.Y. organization. If someone is bullying you, be sure to read how you can get help from Devyn today.
Let’s first dive into your music career and then learn more about your mission to stop bullying.
How did appearing on the show change your life?
Devyn: Wow. Being on “American Idol” definitely changed my life in so many positive ways. It opened a lot of doors and allowed me to meet some of the most incredible people I have ever known. Being on the show also allowed me to explore my own music and boost my confidence in what I am doing now.
Any plans to audition again?
Devyn: Since the show, life has become crazy busy! Thankfully, there are so many exciting projects in the works, so as of now, I am sticking with these projects and making them my main focus. My debut EP is being released in May, and I am working with a wonderful production team for the next one. I am also a national spokesperson for a few children’s organizations, including Hey U.G.L.Y. – Unique. Gifted. Lovable. You. – a bully prevention organization.
Can you share a behind-the-scenes story from “American Idol”?
Devyn: It was a very, very cool experience. At one point, I was sitting with Carson Higgins — now a good friend of mine, who was in my group during Round 2 in Hollywood. We were looking at the set in awe… It was like the best IMAX ever– just being surrounded by everything that we had always seen on TV was amazing. Also in my group was Caleb Hawley — a good friend of mine who also lives in New York.
If you could perform with any artist, who would it be?
Devyn: I love this question! I have always wanted to perform with Stevie Wonder and Bette Midler. There are TONS of people I want to work with. They are two of my all-time favorites.
Are you working on any new projects? Any tour dates coming up?
Devyn: There are tons of new projects! I am the featured artist on tour with Stereo Crowd; dates will be announced very soon, so stay tuned. You can always find out about my shows and projects at my website. I am also being nominated for Big of the Year through Big Brothers Big Sisters and have been working on a bunch of events with the organization. And my debut EP is being released in May. I don’t really sleep anymore, but that’s ok for now…just as long as I have my yoga.
You’re passionate about child advocacy, and work with students on bully prevention. What inspired you to help children understand the importance of building trusting relationships?
Devyn: I’m glad you asked. Looking back on my experience of being bullied in middle school, I now realize that I didn’t have a lot of the tools that could have helped me — two of them being awareness of my emotions and self-love. I didn’t have the foundation I needed, because those are tools that take time to develop and don’t typically come until much later in life. But that can change. If we educate and instill this infrastructure in children at an early age, they will grow up to be aware, loving adults. This is my goal.
Bullying doesn’t seem to be limited to the younger generation. Adults bully each other on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. What can be done to stop this type of bullying?
Devyn: You can’t give somebody something you don’t have. We are sponges, and we wring out whatever we absorb (a good friend of mine, drummer Patrick Maley, gave me that analogy). If we absorb love, it’s all we will have to give. I visited a public school in New York recently, and one of the 5th graders told me that “hurt people hurt people.” Children and adults will stop bullying each other by showing compassion and love to each other, and to themselves.
Tell us about the Hey U.G.L.Y. organization.
Devyn: Hey U.G.L.Y. is an incredible organization, founded by Betty Hoeffner. UGLY stands for “Unique. Gifted. Lovable. You.” Betty wanted to take an ugly word and make it positive and beautiful. I speak at schools through the organization and bullying is the head-fake. The underlying lesson is in bully prevention, but I want the kids to walk away with new-found knowledge of ways to figure out how they’re feeling, what to do about it, and how to unconditionally love themselves.
If there are any kids reading this right now who are being bullied at school, what would you like to tell them and where can they find help?
Devyn: You are not alone. Being bullied makes us feel alone, like we are the only ones. But I guarantee you, my loves, that the kids that are being mean to you…they are hurting from something. Don’t you get down on yourself about it, and don’t you give up. You ARE good enough. Also, you might want to fight back. But I can promise you that it isn’t the solution. I’ve tried everything…and what I have found to be the most effective is sending some love. This might mean walking away when you can, and it definitely takes strength. You are strong. No matter what, fire doesn’t put out fire. Send an email to email@example.com if you need advice or help.
Check out Devyn’s official website for the latest news and more information on bully prevention.