Tendal Mann, 17, is an artist. A professional actor from the age of 7 as Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol,” Tendal soon branched out from the stage to the screen. Through film, he’s found his place as a triple threat of acting, producing and directing. He’s a teen who isn’t afraid to express his creative side and stand up for what he believes in at the same time.
This is most noticeably seen in his latest acting project, “Bullied to Death,” a film by Italian director Giovanni Coda. The film revolves around Jamie, a boy who commits suicide as a result of bullying.
“Bullied to Death” is the second film in a trilogy about bullying and the rights of marginalized populations. The first was based on the letters of a gay man during the Holocaust, and the third one will focus on women’s rights.
This fall, the film will be screened Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema as part of Atlanta’s Out on Film festival. And last summer, it was featured in the 2016 Macon Film Festival, an independent film festival that screens films from around the world.
Tendal said this role was different from the ones he’s had in the past.
“The film is about a kid named Jamie who committed suicide after being bullied a lot for being openly bisexual,” he explains. “The film tries to tackle the issue of bullying people, especially if they’re gay but really just bullying in general.”
According to the Atlanta-based Centers For Disease Control (CDC), about 20 percent of high school students have been bullied at some point during their academic career. The problem is even worse among LGBT students. In 2011, 55.2 percent of LGBT students reported experiencing cyberbullying.
Says Tendal: “This film has such an overall message and overall goal within it that most things I work in don’t have. Most jobs I do are acting … but this film … it felt like I was living the life of someone else. It felt like there was a lot more to it than reading lines from a script.”
He also offered some advice to teen filmmakers who have a vision but run into problems with adults because of their age: “Don’t let it get you down when [people] don’t take you seriously based on your age. That’s really their loss.”
When asked about advice for budding filmmakers Mann said, “Stay motivated and keep doing what you love.”
Tendal’s latest project is “#DigitalLivesMatter,” a comedy about a celebrity who loses his followers on Instagram.
Arlena, 19, is a sophomore at Barnard College who loves writing, reading and spending a shameful amount of money on milkshakes. Say hi on Twitter @lenamcclenton.