Lauren Paul Helps Stop Bullying Through Her Documentary Finding Kind

“Bitch,” “slut,” “fake,” “drama queen”: callous words thrown out casually about women by women. Girl-on-girl drama, especially among school-age gals, is often portrayed by films such as Mean Girls as a rite of passage. But long before Lauren Parsekian of Laguna Niguel met and married actor Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and became a de facto part of Hollywood herself, female bullying was an issue that weighed heavy on her heart.

Paul’s family moved to Laguna Niguel when she was 4 years old. It was her tumultuous years at Niguel Hills Middle School that set the path for the rest of her life. “I went through a really traumatic couple of years with a group of girls,” she says. “It was rumors that turned into more rumors and basically turned into a full campaign against me, but it’s really the effect of those experiences that not only put this issue on my heart at that age, but [it’s also] really a testament to why . . . I feel this is such an important conversation to have.”

She developed severe depression and subsequently developed an eating disorder. “I completely lost my self-worth and self-confidence and got to this point where I just didn’t want to wake up in the morning,” Paul recalls. “Since that experience, I knew that no matter what I did with my life, I wanted it to be centered on this conversation [of anti-bullying].”

After graduating from high school, Paul studied film at Pepperdine University. There, she met Molly Mae Thompson, who had similar experiences in high school. Working on a documentary in college inspired Paul to spread her message, and she invited Thompson to join the fight.

The close friends hit the road in 2008 with a camera and some questions, interviewing for the film that would eventually become Finding Kind. “We had no idea if people would respond,” Paul says. “It was in the initial interviews [that] we started to see how vulnerable women and girls were. It was obvious to us women had been waiting to shed light on this issue.”

After a year of filming, Paul and Thompson looked at each other and realized this was bigger than their film, so the Kind Campaign movement began. “We, of course, had no idea at the time it would snowball into the international nonprofit it is today,” Paul says.

The Kind Campaign now travels across North America, screening Finding Kind and hosting two-hour assemblies in schools during which Paul and Thompson participate in talks and Q&A sessions for young students. They’re about to embark on their 11th tour, reaching out to schools in Chicago, Toronto and London—their first in Europe. Paul estimates Finding Kind is also shown on a daily basis in schools worldwide.

Feedback for their efforts has been astounding. Rachel, a girl from a town just outside Salt Lake City, reached out to Paul and Thompson to say “she woke up that morning knowing there was a Kind Campaign assembly, and she thought about not going to school that day,” Paul says. Rachel had decided earlier that morning she was going to go home and end her life. But after attending the assembly, she told Thompson and Paul, she realized the things some girls at school were doing to her were not worth ending her life over.

“We connected with [Rachel] and sent her a care package and have kept in touch with her,” Paul says. “She’s doing so much better now.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *