Singer, songwriter, and actress Lisa Heller is using her voice to change the world — online and offline.
Only 21 years old, Lisa is already making waves. She’s released three successful singles, was named Ambassador for the first annual #Digital4Good event held at Twitter HQ this summer and is poised to release a new video “Light the Fire” to support the non-profit #ICANHELP in their newest campaign to support positivity in social media.
As a teenager, Lisa suffered from anxiety and low self-esteem. She turned to songwriting for strength.
“I found my purpose by writing music,” she says. “I’m able to inspire other people. Now I know why I’m experiencing anxiety — it’s for a reason. So that I can inspire others, so they know there is something else out there who is going through the same thing. That’s why I think this happened to me — so that I can be strong for other people, and talk about my experiences.”
Lisa took time out of her busy schedule (in addition to writing, performing, and recording music, she’s in her senior year at university) to talk to us about #ICANHELP and “Light the Fire.”
How did you get involved with #ICANHELP?
There’s a guy named Charlie Peake, who’s from Simsbury Connecticut, where I’m from and who went to Colgate University where I go. He read an article about me and reached out to me about SCORE, a free nationwide mentorship program. He helped connect me with David Ryan Polgar, who is a board member for #ICANHELP, who connected me with Matt Soeth, co-founder of #ICANHELP. Everything clicked from there.
How did you become Ambassador for the #Digital4Good event at Twitter HQ?
Matt and I started talking about how it would be cool if I had a song that would fit well with the next online #ICANHELP campaign. I mentioned that I had this song “Light the Fire” that has a similar message as #ICANHELP. He asked me to talk at the #Digital4Good event in San Francisco and said we could also film a video for the song while I was there to tie it into #ICANHELP.
The students in the video are all worldwide winners who were nominated by their peers for the #Digital4Good program.
What was your experience at #Digital4Good?
It was pretty cool. The first half of the day students talked about their experiences having a positive impact online, and shared their accomplishments in middle school and high school.
I spoke about my “Hope” video and I got to announce that I was doing “Light the Fire” with the #ICANHELP campaign.
I stuck around for the rest of the day where we had all of these different panels, and I was able to talk with the students and people in tech. We all met in small groups and had some pretty cool conversations.
You’re active and popular on social media, with a combined 26k followers on Instagram and Facebook. Have you experienced harassment and abuse online?
The reason I started doing music was because I felt a sense of alienation growing up before I even posted anything online. Part of the reason I wanted to make music was to be a strong person who could stand up to people and show that it’s okay to be criticized because you can be the stronger, bigger person.
When I started posting videos, it was hard. Sometimes I would get negative feedback. When I released my “Hope” video, which is about kids with terminal illnesses, some people made some really horrible comments, like they wished these kids would pass away. But the amazing thing is that my fans would all stand up to those people, and it created this online community where the people who had made negative comments ended up being won over and even apologizing. They ended up supporting the song and the video.
As hard as it was at the beginning to read those negative comments, I’ve also become a stronger person. I’ve learned that often people make comments because they might be insecure themselves. And I’ve learned to handle it because I want to be that strong person for other people who might be experiencing harassment every day.
Let’s talk about “Light The Fire.” What is the message of the song?
I started writing “Light the Fire” a year and a half ago. The point of the song was to inspire others to get involved with whatever cause they believe in and to stand up for their beliefs.
The line “If we light the fire, build our own heat, we’ll brothers and sisters march the streets,” is about peacefully standing up for what you believe in, in order to spread a positive message. The line “Strike one match, that’s all we need,” expresses the idea that only one person needs to stand up, but if you work hard enough then other people will join in with that positive message, and you can spread it and build something really great. “Light the Fire” is about spreading positive messages and having a positive impact online and offline.
Formed by educators Matt Soeth and Kim Karr, #ICANHELP is a non-profit organization that educates and empowers students to use social media positively. To date, #ICANHELP has worked with students to take down over 800 pages dealing with harassment, impersonation, bullying, and more. They work closely with schools in training students on how to respond to cyber issues.
About #ICANHELP to Light the Fire
#ICANHELP is excited to partner with Lisa Heller on “Light the Fire.” Lisa collaborated with #ICANHELP and our students to plan, record, and edit this video. #Digital4Good is about students inspiring students and “Light the Fire” is a perfect way to promote that message. Together we are powerful, together we can make a difference.
About Lisa Heller
21-year-old alternative pop singer Lisa Heller started writing music when she was only fourteen. Songs helped her work through her tough adolescent years battling anxiety and low self-esteem.
Her debut single “Hope” set the foundation for her career when the music video reached over 1.6 million views on YouTube and Trended to #1 in 5 countries (top 10 in 7). Heller’s original songs share inspirational messages such as her commentary on college hookup culture in “Midnight” and her experiences in overcoming anxiety with old school “Things You Never Said”. The Edit, a clothing line by Seventeen Magazine, has featured Heller as an Influencer on social media.