I first met Bill Russo, aka Retro Bill, at a movie premiere that spotlighted the impact family and school emotional abuse and bullying have on an entire town. The movie, White Rabbit, seemed to truly resonate with Retro Bill on more than a professional level. After reading and learning more about him, I realized that his background perhaps was similar to that of many, many people. So, without further adieu I share you my interview with actor, spokesperson, speaker and now my friend, Retro Bill!
Q1: Hi Bill – Been almost two years or so since we met via a mutual friend, tell me are you native to California?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Boy Scouts, a Tree Fort, Cornfield Mazes, Little League Games and then many trips to the BIG CITY – Chicago!
Q2: How would you describe your experience as a student? What were your challenges? What did you enjoy about learning or school?
In some respects, school was GREAT! In other respects…TRAMATIC. I seemed to get bullied a lot: “You’re TOO nice! You’re a WIMP! You’re too skinny! You have buck teeth! You have pimples that look like Volcanoes.” I did my best to let the put downs roll off my back (“Like Water on a Duck” my Grandma said). I always had a soft spot in my heart for the other Boys and Girls being bullied, and I would talk to them (Cheer ’em up) and or just let them know “You’re Special Just the Way You Are” (very Billy Joel) and “You’ve got a Friend in Me” (very Toy Story).
WATCH RETRO BILL MEDIA CLIPS
Q3: You are gaining quite a reputation for bringing educationally sound programs against bullying to schools and other organizations. Tell us more!
I have had the HONOR of being the International D.A.R.E. Program’s “Safety & Self-Esteem Buddy” for 20 years. This PRIVILEGE has given me the chance to work with Police Officers throughout North America. I have delivered my Motivational Good Character based/Anti-Bullying/Healthy Life Choices Presentations to Elementary, Middle and High School Students in all 50 States, and throughout all of the Provinces of Canada. Which has put me currently in a position of being one of the most in-demand. Motivational Speakers for Youth (K-12th Grade) in North America. And, my friend Leeza Gibbons has Publicly declared on national television that she feels, “Retro Bill is primed to be the 21st Century’s Mr. Rogers!” An HONOR to be sure!
Q4: Where would you like to be with these programs in one year, 2, 5?
I have such a HUGE FAN BASE! And I’ve been doing this so long, my FANS are ow at an age
where THEY’RE HAVING KIDS! I am ready (and the demand is high) for more DVDS,
a National Television Show (maybe as a Host dealing with issues Kids K-12th Grade are
dealing with… Sort of a Dr. Drew for Kids!) I also see a SeriusXM Radio show in the
future that would play “Retro” (50’s, 60s, 70s and 80’s music) in between Interviews and
my providing Advice and Motivation. It would be loads of fun to tie-in some of the music
with the advice… EXAMPLE: Let’s say I answer a call or email that asks, “Why does my
Mom ask SO MANY questions!? Why won’t she let me go to a party that is unSupervised
by adults. Does she not trust me!?” My advice (pro-Mom of course) would then lead
to, “She LOVES You!” And, cue the Beatles “She Loves You! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
Q6: How can we help?
Putting the word out! Schedule RETRO BILL for assemblies at your schools!
Rural. Urban. Public. Private. Christian Schools. Catholic Schools. Jewish Synagogues
(for Children’s Studies), Charter Schools, Kindergarten through 12th Grade… I have
Messages for ALL Ages! And my Messages RESONATE and make a POSITIVE
IMPACT! Additionally, I am primed and ready for a “Hollywood Agent” who can
help me capitalize on ALL that I’ve done and built! I have over 100 Letters of
Recommendation on my website from Teachers, Principals, Superintendents,
Government Dignitaries and News Agencies touting my appeal and connection
with my fan base. I’ve got two Award-Winning Children’s dvds already successfully
in the market place. I have a media reel (viewable at my website) with Celebrities
and News Agencies across America singing “Retro Bill’s” praises! I just need
that “contact” that can put Retro Bill in mee
tings with Media Decision Makers!
I’ve spent 20 years of my Life doing the leg-work to build the Brand (including
over 37,000 Likes on Facebook).
Q7: Must ask – If you could design your “favorite kind of day” it would be….?
Waking up to sunshine. Being able to get out of bed of my own ability.
A fresh cup of coffee. Tasty breakfast. Perfectly blown dry pompadour.
At least ONE Retro Bill Show in the day, connecting with Kids and hearing
from them that I “Made a Positive Difference!” The day would end in casual
clothes, hair spray and gel washed out (ala, “hair down”), a walk on the beach
as the sun sets… A quiet dinner with friends. A quick soak in the jacuzzi
and fall asleep by a crackling fireplace while listening to easy listening
jazz and sufring the web via my laptop. AMEN.
Retro Bill and Louise
Q8: Social media – Your favorite platform and why?
So far, one of my FAV Social Media platforms is Facebook (as I’ve got over 37,000
Likes and it’s kind of cool to be “Verified!”) I didn’t even start my Facebook Fan Page
until a few years after Facebook had been on-line. For a while I refused to have Facebook
or Twitter because I wanted my young Fans to know they didn’t need to be involved with
Social Media to be Cool or have their Own unique identity. POPULAR and HIGH
DEMAND from my Fans (AND their Parents) finally inspired me to post a Twitter
and Facebook page. I also love Twitter (although I got my Twitter page up years
after Twitter had been around, and so, I’ve been behind the curve on Twitter as
far as Followers are concerned. Having said that, I LOVE TWITTER (as in a quick
glance I can easily check what’s going on with the People, Places and Things I’m
interested in…or FOLLOWING.
Q9: What ELSE do you want yor audience to know?
It’s probably no surprise to many that (unfortunately) many States, Cities, Schools,
Law Enforcement Agencies, etc are hurting financially. I mention this because
over the last year (in particular) I have daily received emails or calls from
Law Enforcement Officers, Principals, PTA Presidents, Teachers, etc who say,
“RETRO BILL our Kids LOVE YOU! YOU are their FAVORITE Speaker! UNfortunately
we don’t have ANY funds to bring you back this year to speak to our Kids.”
EVERY SINGLE call or email stating this breaks my heart : ( So, I would
ask your Audience to consider helping me find an Angel Investor, Corporate
Sponsors, and (as previously mentioned) Hollywood Representation to help
me keep “RETRO BILL out there making a Retro-riffic Positive Impact!”
Here is Retro Bill’s “About Me” – How clever is this introduction! To meet and greet this amazing edu-tainer in person and even better to bring him to your organization – click here!
In closing, it would be my hope that Retro Bill gets to fulfill his dreams all while helping to keep your kids safe, organizations and school educated and continue to sprinkle #SocialGood wherever he goes!
Thanks my friend!