The Diary: Facebook trolls target Shortland Street teen

Fellow actors jump to Evison's defence after cruel comments.

Robbie Evison is wary about being the new kid and doesn't want to comment.
Robbie Evison is wary about being the new kid and doesn't want to comment.

He's the newest member of the Shortland Street family, but 16-year-old actor Robbie Evison is learning the hard way about the downside of fame. The teenager, who debuted on the show this week as Toby Reynolds, has been the victim of vicious online trolling attacks - ironically on the show's fan page. Cast mates have rallied in support.

The cruel and nasty comments appeared on the Shortland Street Facebook page under a post that gave information about Evison. Many have been deleted, including aggressive abuse about the teen's appearance and gender, with one user writing: "That girl should kill herself."

Shortland Street producer Simon Bennett told The Diary new actors in particular are targets of bullying because fans are often averse to change. "This can be particularly crushing for actors who may be teenagers in their first adult employment," he said.

Evison didn't want to comment. He's wary about being the new kid and doesn't want to rock the boat.

He started work at South Pacific Pictures, maker of Shortland Street, two months ago. He's done some commercial work, but this is his first acting gig on a television show.

Bennett said cyber bullying had become more prevalent and SPP had had to be more vigilant in moderating comments online. Many repeat offenders were banned from the forum this week.

"We now have a team of people monitoring the page around the clock and we are being vocal in order to make sure that people on the page are aware that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated ... it concerns us that an increasing number of people are going on there to make cruel and personal attacks," he said.

Actress Teuila Blakely.
Actress Teuila Blakely.

Fellow actors Kerry-Lee Dewing and Teuila Blakely have jumped to Evison's defence. They told The Diary they've been targeted online, and said attacks on their appearance can be hard to take.

"It's incredibly frustrating to read things about yourself that can't be changed," Dewing says. "You can become quite paranoid about your appearance and what you can change in order to avoid copping the brunt of this bullying."

Actress Kerry-Lee Dewing.
Actress Kerry-Lee Dewing.

Blakely says trolls may feel invulnerable, but they forget they're attacking real people with real feelings. "The sense of anonymity that these people imagine they have by commenting via social media gives them a false sense of bravado. I'm almost certain that none of them would have the balls to personally attack me in the street, but being online gives them the right to be as vicious as they want because they don't feel there will be repercussions."

Bedingfield a no-show

Sony Music's album launch party last night for X Factor New Zealand winner Jackie Thomas at an inner-city bar had comrade support. Dom Bowden, Stan Walker, Ruby Frost and boyfriend Tom Batchelor were all expected to attend, at the time of writing.

However, mentor Daniel Bedingfield was a no-show. He jetted to Los Angeles yesterday for a gig on Tuesday. It follows his cancelled concert in Wellington due, organisers said, "to a change in market conditions". It seems when it comes to ticket sales, Bedingfield lacks the X Factor.

Alas, he has chutzpah in spades. His full frontal nudity in the music video Secret Fear has been the subject of much mirth in MediaWorks circles, makers of X Factor New Zealand. Seeing Bedingfield in plaid is one thing, in the buff quite something else.

From Russia with love

The joke going round this week that Russia had taken Edward Snowden but not our dairy products may have been wearing thin on the Government and Fonterra flacks, but a Soviet with warmer salutations was raising eyebrows (and heartbeats) in other circles.

Buxom blonde Belarusian Katya Nosova made quite a stir when she appeared in TV interviews this week as the translator for heavyweight boxer Alexander Ustinov.

Wearing a bustier and blazer, Nosova played Bond girl to Ustinov's Bond villain. But boxing promoter Duco says she's more than a bombshell fluent in Russki.

"Katya is a gymnastics champion and she's studying for a business degree," David Higgins told The Diary. "In fact, we have plans to get her in the ring in an amateur fight." Sans the bikini top and reality TV show cameras, we hope.

Fishing for Labour luvvies Keen fisherwoman Paula Bennett (she once hooked a shark) makes a sport of reeling in Labour luvvies. She once slapped down Jacinda Ardern with a curt "zip it, sweetie". This week in the House she told Andrew Little to "calm down young man".

"I was just answering questions on welfare reforms. It was all quite unremarkable until Andrew completely lost the plot!" Bennett told The Diary.

"I said, 'Calm down young man.' And then, the bit the microphone didn't pick up, was I said, 'Comparing political careers, I'd say mine has been far more successful than yours'."

Ouch. That's sure to dent an ego. Meanwhile, many happy returns to Prime Minister John Key, 52 years old today. But what to get the poll-leader on his birthday? Some competition, no?

Back to school for Sara

Aussie-based Sara Wiseman is coming home. She will welcome aspiring thesps to The Actors' Program, an independent and privately run 12-month acting course, which is holding an information day on Sunday at the Western Springs school for future students.

Sara Wiseman.
Sara Wiseman.

Wiseman sits on the artistic board, alongside Michael Hurst, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Michele Hine, Cameron Rhodes, John Callen and Charlie McDermott. She says the drama school, with a maximum of 16 pupils, is vital because it provides practical teaching (not academic) to hone skills. There is no government funding.

Moore Kiwi fashion in LA

Andrea Moore will take part in next month's Fashion Week, but this week the Kiwi fashion designer made her US debut in front of Los Angeles fashionistas.

She presented her autumn 2014 collection at a Beverly Hills hotel, the Hollywood Reporter noted.

The fashion show, hosted by Stylehaus boutique owner Marina Monroe, had all the necessary fashion requisites: skinny models, skinny cocktails and skinny on the celebs. The Tequila Sisters from the TV Guide Network were in attendance, as was Kym Johnson of Dancing with the Stars fame.

Moore and Monroe will team up again at NZFW.

- NZ Herald

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