On January 20th, Miami Springs Senior High journalism students were given the opportunity to attend a movie screening for The Duff. This film, starring Mae Whitman, follows the life a high school senior named Bianca as she faces common high school social issues, such as friendships, crushes, and bullying.
In the movie, Whitman plays the role of none other than the Duff, which is an acronym for the Designated Ugly Fat Friend, or the person in a group that is not as popular or attractive as the rest of his/her friends. When her neighbor and football jock, Wesley, played by Robbie Amell, informs her of her status as the DUFF, Bianca begins to reevaluate her friendship with her best friends and doubt her place in the social hierarchy that high school creates. To make matters worse, she is constantly being bullied both in person and on cyberspace by the mean girl, Madison, played by the young and talented actress/model Bella Thorne.
Based on the novel by Kody Keplinger, The Duff personifies the average teenager and her journey of finding herself within the midst of a difficult and oftentimes cruel high school setting during a very critical period of identity development in life.
Following the movie screening, both Editors-in-Chief for the Spectre and the Zeitgeist were invited to join a conference call with actors Whitman, Amell, and Thorne. All three were present to answer any questions that select high school students from across the United States posed to them. The actors turned out to be very much like normal people, cracking jokes about each other and everyday issues.
During the half hour conference, the actors discussed what they used as inspiration to get into character and mentally prepare themselves for their roles in the movies. Whitman admitted that she was bullied when she was in high school and she drew on this tough experience to help her play the role of the Duff. She talked about how the need for people to judge is “limiting and that the people that try to drag you down and keep you in a box are usually insecure and threatened by you”. She also wanted to provide a bit of a perspective through the actions of her character, Bianca, because, as she sensibly suggested, “you don’t have to participate in anything you feel doesn’t make you the best version of who you are.”
The actors also talked about the bonds that were formed on and off set, the laughs they shared throughout the making of the movie, and the scenes that they most enjoyed shooting. Overall, the conference call proved to be enlightening as the actors shared advice about high school and revealed their personalities as real people in contrast (or comparison) to the characters that they played in the movie.