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Jenny McCarthy
Jenny McCarthy at the Candie's
Foundation press conference
West Side High School, NYC, 5/2/01
Photo © 2001 NY Rock

   

Jenny McCarthy on Teenage Pregnancy and the Newly Established Candie's Foundation, by Alice Hammond

Jenny McCarthy, Destiny's Child, 'NSNYC, Macy Gray and other celebrities have joined forces with Candie's Inc. in a campaign to educate youth about teenage pregnancy. Because of the celebrities' unique ability to touch today's teens, Neil Cole, one of the directors of the Candie's Foundation, chose them as role models and spokespersons for the company's massive public awareness campaign.

Surprisingly, the U.S. has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. The statistics, some of which are highlighted within Candie's empowering messages below, are startling:

  • Be independent – don't depend on him. Nearly 80% of fathers of babies born to teen mothers do not marry their babies' mothers.
  • Be sexy – it doesn't mean you have to have sex. One million teenage girls will become pregnant this year.
  • Be productive – not reproductive. If you have unprotected sex, you have an 85% chance of getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant within one year.
  • Be vocal – say no way. Four in ten girls will experience at least one pregnancy before reaching age 20.
  • Be smart – don't give up your education. Less than one-third of teen mothers receive a high school diploma.

NY Rock spoke with Jenny at a local high school on New York City's Upper West Side where she and Destiny's Child introduced the campaign to school kids and press alike.

NYROCK:

How did you get involved with the Candie's Foundation?

JENNY:

Neil [Cole] first gave me a call and asked if I'd be a part of it and I jumped at the opportunity because, as weird as it may seem,
Jenny McCarthy
Jenny McCarthy at the
Candie's Foundation press conference,
West Side High School, NYC, 5/2/01
Photo © 2001 NY Rock
   
the people who come up to me on the street are young girls – always looking up at me with these big eyes. And I feel like I should have something great to say to them, and it's always just, "Hey, how are ya? Rock on! Girls rule!" Instead, this is a great way that I can actually give something back, where they might listen to me. And to go beyond that, I sat down with Neil and said, "I don't want to just be today's spokesperson for this event. I want to be on the board. Let me do something."

So, I'm producing and writing and directing a couple of PSAs for them that we'll be shooting in the next couple of weeks, because I didn't want to do anything in a way that's boring with statistics and numbers. That goes over my head. I forget about it. I said, "Let's shoot some stuff where it shows real conflict. It shows kids at a prom and having to go home and get their baby. Visual stimulation that kids will remember."

NYROCK:

Did you have any experiences as a young girl that piqued your interest in the campaign?

JENNY:

   Destiny's Child
Destiny's Child at the Candie's Foundation press
conference, West Side High School, NYC, 5/2/01
Photo © 2001 NY Rock
Well, I was never pregnant as a teenager but I went to an all-girls Catholic school. And all the nuns just breathed down our necks "abstinence." And that's not the right thing to do. It does not work. Kids will not listen to that. They're going to experiment no matter what, so you have to be honest. You have to say, "You know what, if you're gonna do it, at least think about the consequences and get protection. Or, be firm, and say no, I'm not gonna do it. Make a choice."

NYROCK:

Did President Bush's current pro-life initiatives have any impact on your decision?

JENNY:

God, when it comes to Bush I can't even comment. I just can't stand him.

NYROCK:

So, if you were stranded on a desert island with one other person and had to choose among Bush, Bill Gates or Jerry Springer, who would it be?

JENNY:

Oh God, at least Jerry Springer would tell me some good stories.

NYROCK:

What else is going on in your life?

JENNY:

I'm doing a television show with Fox. It's for mid-season. We start shooting it in June. It's a summer sixties spy series. It's called "Honey Vicarro" and I'm Honey Vicarro, honey, darling, sweetie. It's a real theme, back-in-the-day shot, sixties-style show.

NYROCK:

One last question: How do you feel about the internet infatuation with you?

JENNY:

   Destiny's Child and Jenny McCarthy
Destiny's Child and Jenny McCarthy,
Candie's Foundation press conference,
West Side High School, NYC, 5/2/01
Photo © 2001 NY Rock
In the beginning, I was freaked. The first time I punched in my name and saw how many sites there were, I thought, that's scary. I got too involved where I got worried and panicked and tried to stop it. But you know what, if I just let it go and not worry about it, then it will be fine. Because it's all about how it makes me feel and I was letting it get to me. So this way, I pushed it away in my mind and I don't have to worry about it.

June 2001

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