Eric Martinez says he was bullied while growing up

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FARMINGTON — Albuquerque-based actor Eric Martinez is sharing his message about bullying and its impact on families and communities in presentations this week.

"Bullying has no prejudice. I hear the same stories everywhere I go, and the kids that are being bullied, almost every single time, are being bullied because of the same issues that ... are across the board," he said.

Martinez hears those stories from students across the country and shares his own through his campaign, "I Got Your Back," which he started in 2011 to bring attention to bullying and to empower communities to address the issue.

He also talks about the importance of confidence, overcoming adversity and developing communication between parents and children.

"When you're confident in yourself, you're not trying to pick on anybody else or when you're confident in yourself, you won't allow yourself to be a victim. For me, it's about building confidence and giving hope," he said.

Martinez, who appeared in the television show "Better Call Saul" and the movie "Love Lies Bleeding," said he had a rough childhood in Albuquerque, including being bullied in elementary, middle and high school.

"I was an easy target," he said.

He stopped the harassment by addressing his insecurities, by talking to those who were causing the bullying and by following his dream of becoming an actor.

"I tell the kids today that communication is key. Talk to your parents, talk to your teachers, talk to a counselor (or) talk to your friends," he said.

Melissa Meechan, a commissioner for the city of Farmington's Community Relations Commission, met Martinez in January when he was working on the independent movie "Aurora's Law" in Farmington.

She learned about his anti-bullying campaign and worked with the commission, San Juan College, the San Juan County Rotary Club and others to arrange his visit.

"The commission just agreed. They felt like this was the time and this was the message that our kids needed to hear," Meechan said.

Meechan accompanied Martinez as he made presentations Tuesday morning at Kirtland Middle School in Kirtland and Career Prep High School in Shiprock.

Martinez will continue to visit schools and programs in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington today and Thursday.

He will speak at a free public presentation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Little Theatre at San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington.

An opening presentation will be by Jamie Lattin, mother of Aztec High School shooting victim Casey J. Marquez, and by Debbie Johnson, who coached Marquez on the Aztec cheer team.

For more information about the presentation, contact Meechan at jmcmeechan@msn.com or visit iamericmartinez.com.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.
 

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