In 2007, Chris went so far as to tell host James Lipton of Bravo’s Inside the Actors Studio that bullying was “the defining moment of my life … it made me who I am.” He even thanked the pack of boys who regularly “kicked my a–, spit in my face, and kicked me down the stairs,” because the experiences not only helped him to think quick on his feet, but also fueled his drive to succeed.
But Chris is the first to say all that bad has to be tempered with the good, or no good can come out of it.
“Either somebody whose dad or mom owns the place, or someone who’s put up with a lot of adversity and overcome it. But you need love, too,” Chris says. “Bullying without love? You can be destroyed. But you know, I was bullied and I had love at home, so that was kind of the perfect storm for me, you know? I just read the Steve Jobs book. There’s no way you can tell me that guy wasn’t beat up in school! And what happened? He used that pain to make sure he’d be in a position where he would never be bullied again.”
Catherine Bradshaw, PhD, MEd, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, says of Rock’s “perfect storm” position: “It’s good he can frame his experiences in a positive way and use them as a motivator, and he’s providing insightful commentary,” she says.
“Research shows that 80% of youth have experienced some form of bullying,” Bradshaw adds. “It’s clear Chris was touched profoundly by his experience, because he continues to draw upon it in his work all these years later.”
As Chris reflects on the past and looks to the future at the end of his successful documentary, “Good Hair,” the husband and father of two girls exclaims, “My job as a parent is to help them to understand that what’s on the inside is, if not more, beautiful than as what’s on the outside.”