After all the eating, sleeping, and shopping that we all got up to over Thanksgiving, it's officially time for Giving Tuesday, a day that really reminds us how important it is to give back. Pretty Little Liars actress Ashley Benson has partnered up with PayPal to show others just how easy it is to support charitable causes they care about. TWIST asked the star for her advice on how kids and teens can speak up for what they believe in to really make a difference, and create the change they wish to see in their communities. Check out our exclusive Q&A below.
TWIST: What's your best advice for kids and teens who want to give back to their communities but don't know where to start?
Ashley Benson: I think it's so easy now with technology and stuff. I think most people will be able to understand how to start a GoFundMe page, so I urge them to get involved with a charity or organization they love that way. It's so simple and to raise money for all the different charities. Also just going to a soup kitchen, or a hospital, a homeless shelter, just give your time, especially if you don't have money to give.
Your presence is enough and just being there, and I feel it makes an even bigger difference since you're right here, changing people's lives and you can see it for yourself. When I was younger, 16, 17 years old, I used to go to homeless shelters all the time, and bring toys, clothes food and just taking one day out of your week to help other people's needs.
TWIST: How do you think young people can make their voices heard on issues that matter to them most?
AB: Social media has changed the way people interact with their fans and with each other. I think it's really cool to have this platform and know I can reach millions of people on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, whatever it may be, to spread the word about something you believe in. Whether it's to go out and vote, to talking about charities you're involved in. [Fans] really do pay attention and I've been working with a lot of organizations lately that are social media based and fans have been really responsive and being vocal. It teaches them to see beyond posting on Instagram and Snapchat and all that fun stuff and seeing their idols make a difference, and makes fans think differently and hopefully want to get involved.
TWIST: What's the best advice you've ever been given, and was it hard to follow it?
AB: For me, I've been in this industry since I was really young and working a lot and there have been a lot of No's and letdowns and you have to have a really strong backbone in this industry. So just to never give up is one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten along the way. There have been so many times when I just wanted to quit and I didn't want to do it anymore and you just have to get over it, and build yourself back up. You're going to hear "no" way more times than you're going to hear "yes," and I've heard it millions of times. It's such a letdown in that moment, but you use it to grow and learn, see what you can do better. So just not giving up has been something that's always stuck with me.
As told to Jennifer Maldonado