Interview: Benni Cinkle, “That Girl in Pink” from Rebecca Black Video

Though most commonly known as “the girl in pink” from the viral YouTube video that is Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” this 14-year-old is making it clear that she has much more to offer than just a couple awkward dance moves.

“For me I grew up in a household where we all make jokes about each other and laugh about ourselves,” Benni Cinkle, a.k.a. “That Girl in Pink,” explains to andPOP. “So it wasn’t that hard for me to be able to joke [about people] saying mean things or making fun of me…I know that I didn’t dance the best in that video and so I know that when they’re saying I’m a bad dancer, they can judge that based on the dancing. And if I had to judge myself just based on that dancing I would say I’m a bad dancer too, so I’m not going to get mad at them for judging just what they saw of me.”

Benni Cinkle

Soon after, Cinkle went on to start her own not-for-profit organization, and named it none other than “That Girl in Pink Foundation,” because she recognized that is how she was known to the public from the very beginning. “The biggest fan page that I had on Facebook [not run by myself] was that girl in pink who danced awkwardly,” says Cinkle. “So I was like well why don’t we just call my non-profit that, since people seem to know the name already!”

With the help of her mother, a professional in business with knowledge of non-profit organizations, Cinkle launched her organization two months ago with the purpose of raising money and awareness for issues that teenagers face daily, including teen depression, child violence, sexual abuse, bullying, and cyber-bulling. On September 1, Cinkle released her first single and music video, entitled, “Can You See Me Now,” whereby 20 per cent of the profits will go towards her organization.

“In the music video there are stories of these kids who are going through so much,” says Cinkle, “and I just felt like I can’t tell people about these and not be part of the solution. So I was thinking, ‘how can I be part of the solution?’ and it was pretty obvious to me that if we donate profits from ‘Can You See Me Now,’ to thatgirlinpink.org and help the charities, then that’s the easiest way to do it.”

Although Cinkle is not referenced to in the song or portrayed in the video, it does not discourage her from being able to relate to the teenagers in the video and help raise awareness. “There are people who are too scared to say it themselves because they are going through it,” says Cinkle. “So I feel like although those people in the video aren’t me, I can still show it and I can still say these are kids my age that are experiencing this and people need to know.”

One thing Cinkle can relate to is cyber-bullying, which she experienced greatly in March, upon the release of “Friday” – eventually leading her to the release of her own e-book, “That Girl In Pink’s Internet Survival Guide” on cyber-bullying – and more recently, following the release of her new single.

“The immediate response on YouTube was a bunch of negative comments,” says Cinkle. “It was surprising…I expected people to be saying they liked the message. Personally I really believe in the message so it was unexpected, but it wasn’t something I didn’t think I could handle.”

The underlying message of the song and its background are inspiring despite the initial negative feedback Cinkle received from the public. Over a year ago, Cinkle was reading posts on www.sixbillionsecrets.com, a site where teenagers can post their own stories, or “secrets” anonymously in what is set up to be a non-judgemental and supportive community. “It hit my heart. I was heartbroken, and I felt like I needed to get my emotions out and I needed to express it in some form and so I was writing. I thought it would just come out as a journal but it kind of came out as a song,” says Cinkle. “I was surprised, but after that I just put it away and I never told anybody about it.

The next time Cinkle took out her song was when she showed it to her mom, who was the first person to hear it. Despite having fears about releasing her song to her fans, Cinkle admits that it was more terrifying showing it to her mother. “It’s hard for me to sing in front of my mom, but there was no other way to get it to her,” says Cinkle. “It was the only way I could show her how it went and what it was about, so I just had to sing it and it was probably one of the scariest parts of this whole experience.”

After that, facing the critical comments of her fans did not seem to faze Cinkle. When asked about one piece of advice that she would share with people just starting out, she says it would be to understand that there are two responses people can have to your work. “They could say something that’s true and they could say something that’s not true. If it’s true, own it and love who you are and say yes, that is true,” says Cinkle, adding that if it’s not true, then what they say should not matter. “Whether it was a mistake or not, that’s what I did and that’s who I am.”

With all her charity work, it’s easy to forget that Cinkle is just a regular teenager, who recently began high school and loves Justin Bieber as much as any other teen. Yet that doesn’t stop her from knowing what she wants to achieve in life and understanding that she is becoming a role model to many along the way. “My goal with this video was just to help one kid and I would consider my video a success,” says Cinkle. “But thinking that it could have affected more than a hundred people, and knowing that some people look up to me because of it, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Visit Benni Cinkle’s organization homepage at www.thatgirlinpink.org, and follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/benni_cinkle. Source: http://www.andpop.com/2011/09/13/interview-benni-cinkle-that-girl-in-pink-from-rebecca-black-video/