#CantDoNothing: Milana Vayntrub on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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  • You probably know her as “the AT&T girl” or one half of the LivePrudeGirls YouTube channel – and actor/influencer Milana Vayntrub doesn’t hesitate to use her internet fame to promote the causes she believes in.

    Milana has created a powerful and thought-provoking documentary video, “Can’t Do Nothing,” after a vacation with her father in Greece opened her eyes to the plight of Syrian refugees risking their lives to cross the sea and find safety for their families. She writes in a personal essay for Pop Sugar:

    ”As Warsan Shire, a 27-year-old Somali-British poet writes: ‘you have to understand/no one puts their children in a boat /unless the water is safer than the land.’ It’s very easy to paint the word ‘refugees’ with a broad stoke, as so many politicians have lately, or dismiss their plight as another world disaster we have no control over. But when you meet them, laugh with them, hold their kids, and hear about their pasts or dreams for a future, it’s a lot harder to.”

    Milana is an old friend of Shira Lazar and What’s Trending, so she stopped by to be on the What’s Trending Podcast and talk about how her experiences inspired the #CantDoNothing campaign.

  • In a long discussion about what one person can do to change the world for the better, Milana talked about what it was like to stand on the shore in Greece and watch boats of refugees arrive.

    “I couldn’t have imagined it to be that way. I did see it in the news, but then when you see people so grateful to just see land, and the fact that they’ve made it across the sea – they’re celebrating and they’re singing, and some people are crying. And the boats are these tiny dinghies – they’re supposed to fit 12 people and they have 40, 50 people on them, and they are tight. And people are just passing their kids off as soon as they can to volunteers, to people they don’t know.”

    The refugees’ struggle is more personal to her than you might think – as her documentary shows, Milana and her family were themselves refugees from the Soviet Union when she was a small child. “I remember being not American. I remember being an outsider, and the transition that my parents had to go through, learning the language and trying to get work. So I definitely feel close to the plight of an immigrant, let alone the plight of a refugee.”

    A large part of her campaign is not only encouraging people to do what they can to help, but also urging them to talk about the good that they do, instead of remaining anonymous or worrying about coming across as boasting or self-indulgent.

    “I think part of the great thing about being an influencer is that you can have a message and spread it to a lot of people. And the cool thing about being alive these days is that everyone is an influencer because everyone has a following. If you tweet something and you have 85 people, that’s 85 more people that know about something that you’ve contributed to that maybe they didn’t know about before.”

    Visit CantDoNothing.org to find out how you can help, whether it’s donating money, signing on with volunteer groups or simply spreading the word online with the #CantDoNothing hashtag.

    You can listen to the entire podcast with Milana on Soundcloud, or download it on iTunes.

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