Actor Trevor Donovan may be best known as the leading man in romantic comedies, but the California native believes there is value in looking at things from another perspective — whether that means exploring challenging onscreen characters, being a positive influence on social media, or driving a political conversation that fosters cooperation rather than simply taking sides.
Onscreen, Donovan has often chosen roles that force him to expand his own personal horizons and perspectives. Early on in his acting career, that meant exploring the emotional journey of Teddy Montgomery (“90210”) — a teenager struggling to come to terms with his own sexuality. More recently in “Wolf Hound,” that means playing an ace Nazi fighter pilot in a World War II drama — despite the fact that Donovan is the grandson of an American World War II veteran.
Donovan said that becoming someone else — even just for a short time — was the nature of the job. He noted that an industry move toward pigeonholing actors — by saying that only certain people could play certain roles — was frustrating. “This is by definition … that’s our job — to step out of who we are and take on a role that isn’t who we are. That’s the job. If everybody just goes in and plays who they are then that takes the creativity out of the process.”
But Donovan also told The Daily Wire in an exclusive interview that it’s even more important to explore other perspectives and thought processes off-screen — especially in the often volatile arenas of social media and politics.
When he first joined social media, Donovan said that he was disappointed to find it something of a “cesspool,” with people often arguing and getting angry — and not really listening or bothering to understand where others were coming from.
“People are very easily offended. I have friends who we don’t see eye to eye politically but we can still be friends. I think that’s definitely missing from the political world and the world in general,” he explained.
“It’s easy to have an emotional opinion and look for the headline that agrees with you and stick with that, but then you never learn anything about other people and the thought process they go through,” he said, adding that he believed people who had a larger platform — and sometimes hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers — had a responsibility to help bring people together rather than simply throwing out opinions that may not be any better informed.
“I feel like it’s pretty irresponsible to just throw my political opinions out there because I’m not really any more informed than anyone else. I feel like a lot of people, especially on social media, might be willing to follow the opinion of someone who has a lot of influence and a lot of followers, and I think it’s irresponsible to have this kind of platform and use it to throw my opinion out there and just allow people to follow or be manipulated,” he said.
For that reason, Donovan said, his presence on social media has been carefully crafted around the kind of “influencer” he wants to be: one who encourages people to have conversations, even the difficult ones, without immediately retreating to their political corners and lashing out in attempts to draw blood.
“How do you encourage people to have adult conversation when everyone has an agenda and a narrative?” he asked. “And that’s why I don’t use my platform to do anything other than learn how other people process information.”
Donovan’s Twitter feed, in between photos of his beloved dogs and dad-joke-worthy puns, is littered with questions — and not the kind designed to trap political opponents in a “gotcha” moment, but rather the kind that encourages people to look past the politics and engage on a human level.
“I love the idea of people just having conversations — everyone is so quick to get so offended and angry. No one has a conversation any more, they just get defensive,” he said. “I like to present the facts and then see if people can just have a conversation and come to their own conclusions.”
And when it comes to his own involvement in politics, Donovan has pursued similar goals. He regularly speaks with political leaders on both sides of the aisle, saying that the issues and the causes should be more important than partisanship.
Recently Donovan, an ambassador for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization, appeared alongside Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris during 2021’s Ripple of Hope awards.
Donovan has also partnered with Republican North Carolina Senator — and fellow dog lover — Thom Tillis to raise awareness for Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), the disease that ultimately claimed the life of Donovan’s German Shepherd Dogbert.
“DM can be prevented if greedy breeders tested all their dogs before breeding them,” Donovan’s agent explained in an email to The Daily Wire. “Trevor’s goal is to raise awareness. You can’t stop people from buying from breeders but you can inform them before they buy. Demand a DM gene test from both parents. DM dogs end up in shelters and usually die there.”
As the pandemic is hopefully coming to an end, Donovan said that he plans to get back to one more cause that impacts people regardless of political party — bullying in schools. Prior to the pandemic, he visited Deer Lakes Middle school in Pennsylvania, where he shared his own experience with bullies and talked with students about what they were going through.
“When I was a kid, even if you were maybe getting bullied at achool, there was an escape,” Donovan explained. “At the end of he day you could go home and the bully didn’t go with you, you had that kind of sanctuary. Now with social media and the internet, you can be bullied anywhere at any time.”
He has partnered in his anti-bullying campaign with GAC (Great American Country) Family, with whom he has also made a couple of romantic comedies, to do more events in the months to come. And after the toll pandemic-related school closures have had on kids — teens in particular — he says it’s not a minute too soon.
“I couldn’t imagine going through this as a kid,” he said of the pandemic. “The complete loss of social interaction, especially for kids who are only children or who live where they don’t have other kids really close by …”
Through interactive events, Donovan hopes to encourage more kids to be what he calls “upstanders” rather than “bystanders.”
“It’s so important to inspire integrity and passion, remind kids that they have value and should stand up and defend that — and remind kids that it’s worth defending the other kids who maybe can’t stand up for themselves,” he said.
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