Anthony Preston is a singer, actor and motivational speaker who has been seen on television shows like Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless, and in commercials for McDonald’s, Lexus, Macy’s and more. Preston’s love for music and entertainment has led him not only to advance in his career, but also in his outreach to the next generation.
Preston is the founder of Elev8, a teen integrity program with the motto, “Get Lifted.” This just so happens to be the name of one of Preston’s songs, which is the soundtrack to the program.
The non-profit and non-religious organization Elev8 seeks to:
Execute an educational, inspirational, and entertaining program for the purpose of helping teens avoid risky behaviors in order to achieve their dreams.
ELEV8 engages its audiences with cutting edge music, creative illusions, and humorous skits in an effort to creatively share truth regarding substance abuse, the pitfalls of promiscuous sex, and the damage caused by bullying (elev8-x.org).
Preston sings, speaks and has partnered with other entertainers, leaders and speakers to share Elev8 with different high schools and in assemblies to thousands of youth. Preston and the Elev8 team communicate about how to avoid harmful choices and follow their goals and dreams as well! Watch the video clip and trailer for Elev8 and listen to the track “Lifted” by Preston.
Here are some Q&As from my interview with Preston:
CG: When and why did you start ELEV8?
AP: After appearing on a number of daytime television series in 2002, I was approached by a woman who worked for a local teen outreach program that was predicated upon encouraging awareness about pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and self-worth. Participating and speaking on behalf of this organization opened doors to a national speaking tour…I began to see that a cultural relevance in addition to an inspiring message was necessary for a generation inundated with mixed messages. I realized that to effectively captivate the attention of today’s youth, to combat what is considered “cool” and “edgy,” one must be willing to be both of the latter.
CG: What are your goals with ELEV8, or your vision for this next generation?
AP: The ELEV8 team and movement has effectively carried out our mission statement of waking kids out of their pop culture-induced coma and has alerted them to the destiny at their fingertips. This realization of self-worth and subsequent dreams has shifted a focus off the self-discovery of risky behavior and onto one’s potential.
ELEV8’s goal is to further diminish the fourth wall between the audience and the artist. Imagine a teen on a Friday night viewing a feature length film…and by Monday morning having those same actors in their gymnasium and classroom speaking about the importance of their identity. Elev8 endeavors to rescue these innocent and impressionable lives, inoculate them with renewal and hope, equip them tools they need for success, and ultimately help them GET LIFTED.
CG: How has ELEV8 changed your life personally?
AP: Hollywood by its nature can become a very “me”-centered lifestyle. For years, philanthropy of this sort was something I did as a “good idea” or because I thought I would get some gold star in Heaven…I remember arrogantly thinking how special I was to be in the entertainment industry and simultaneously being asked to speak all over the country.
I’ll never forget one fateful day in the fall of 2007; I was asked to speak at rehabilitation home in Chatsworth, California…I cried myself to sleep that night knowing that there was nothing in my clever and sheltered PowerPoint presentation on STDs that could possibly help these lost young men without fathers or healthy role models. I knew that in my tenure as a speaker I hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of the level of needs our young people have…[It] changed my life personally because I finally understood what I was fighting for.
Girls, what do you think of Elev8’s message? Are you an Anthony Preston fan?