During the convention I moderated a panel for Ian Somerhalder, who plays Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries. Yes, I'm talking about this Ian:
Playing it cool in a fedora and ISF t-shirt, Ian wasn't intimidated by the audience of three thousand screaming fans - not to mention those streaming the panel live on CONtv. Not only is Ian genuinely one of the most kind people I've ever met, he is a philanthropist, immensely appreciative of his fans, and - most importantly - an advocate of #fiercewomen.
During the panel, Ian touched on his character Damon and what we can expect in the upcoming seventh season. He discussed how the creators and writers of the show have had his character's journey mapped out from the beginning of the series, saying that Damon can't just be the, "one-trick pony and villain" for seven years.
Elaborating on how grateful he was that he's been able to play this staple character on television, he gave most of his thanks to one of the show creators, Julie Plec. He raved about her success as a female show runner in a male-dominated industry, calling out her achievements of launching not one, not two, but three shows on The CW Network (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and formerly The Tomorrow People.) Rumor has it she has another new pilot coming to the network as well, a series titled Condon.
For those that aren't aware of the lack of women leadership in the entertainment industry, Julie's feats are impressive and something all of us aspiring #fiercefemales should look up to. Ian encouraged the audience to take Julie's accomplishments and apply them to their own dreams:
"Empowered, educated women will change the f**cking world. Period. Let's focus on them."
When one of Ian's fans from the audience asked him a question and stated she was a teacher for middle school students, Ian made a point to praise her focus on education and empowering young students to achieve their dreams and change the world, "You're a teacher? Thank you. You give so much and you get so little. Really, thank you."
Could this guy be any more encouraging? He was humble when talking about his efforts to empower the world's youth through the ISF, his foundation that aims to "empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures", but it's worth acknowledging that he uses his platform as a super-celeb to empower the world's young generation to make a difference. Take note, Damon lovers: The real-life Damon wants you to set goals and be the most badass version of yourself.
Let me know, #fiercefemales: What inspires you to change the world? Tweet me @ekpochop!
*If you want to donate $10 to the ISF, text THURSDAY to 80077!