While some celebrities attempt to increase voter turnout by flaunting $ 700 ‘Vote’ boots or displaying thirst traps and selfies on ballots, Noah Centineo, the 24-year-old ‘To all the boys I’ve loved before, ”is taking a different approach.
In a last ditch effort to get Gen Z to the polls, Mr. Centineo and his friend Josh Heller, 33, created a voting-focused pop-up gallery in Los Angeles and invited top influencers to visit the space. The idea is that the pop-up’s social media posts – which features galvanizing neon slogans like “use your voice” – could encourage their followers to vote. The gallery is not just a photo opportunity; it’s also a way to educate and inspire influencers to vote and speak out on big issues.
“Until everyone in America votes, or a critical mass majority votes, we’re not going to have a good understanding of who we are and our total values and desires,” Mr. Centineo said.
The gallery, located across from the BOA Steakhouse influencer hotspot on Sunset Boulevard, has become a place to see and be seen. Visitors like TikTok star Larray, Kylie Jenner, and Anastasia Karanikolaou (aka Stassiebaby) posted content from the pop-up to social media. Mr. Centineo runs tours by appointment (sometimes barefoot but always masked) until Thursday, October 29. People without millions of subscribers can visit space virtually.
Mr. Centineo understands first-hand the apathy many young people feel towards the political system since he did not run in the 2016 election. “I thought to myself that because I was not an educated voter , it would be more dangerous for me to vote ”. he said. “I told myself that I shouldn’t vote if I don’t know what I was doing. He also felt disenfranchised by the electoral college system.
Now, after learning about the political process, he is trying to make up for his inaction. In March, Mr. Centineo, Mr. Heller, an entrepreneur, and Paul Leighton, a business leader, launched Favored Nations, a non-profit that directs funds to organizations focused on climate change, rights LGBTQ, mental health awareness and coronavirus relief. The organization hopes to motivate and empower Generation Z to effect change in the world. “A lot of the younger generation are very passionate about making an impact, they just don’t know where to start,” Heller said.
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Young people are already showing up in record numbers for this year’s presidential election. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University has tracked early voting behavior among people aged 18 to 29; according to his tally, more than five million young voters have already voted. In several key states, including Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the number of early and absent young voters has already exceeded President Trump’s margin of victory in those states in 2016.
Yet there are many young people who have not yet voted and Mr Centineo hopes his efforts, which are deliberately non-partisan, will energize some of them.
The pop-up includes several photo opportunities, like a mirrored room filled with tiny Yayoi Kusama lights; the words “when we all shine our light then we shine the way” are written on the outside of the door.
One room contains a voting booth with a scannable QR code that shows an explanation of what is on the California ballot. During the tour, Mr. Centineo discusses the different proposals and how they affect different communities. Two large works of art by Jonni Cheatwood, a local artist, hang on the doorway.
“The purpose of this space is to inspire top influencers and talent to use their platform to get the vote and be more socially responsible,” said Sher Chaudhary, 23, special projects manager at Flighthouse, a brand leading TikTok media. which supports the pop-up. “We want to inspire teenage confidence in American democracy, because many teenagers feel that politics has failed them.” The gallery was co-produced by Castle, a members-only designer club that opened in 2021.
The last stop in the gallery is a dark room with large screens on the walls and a box covered with buttons. As the ambient music explodes, guests are encouraged to press buttons that bombard them with clips from politicians like Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Ted Cruz on political participation. Other buttons fill the screens with images intended to highlight pressing issues facing the country. Pressing them plays noisy videos of fires, floods, and footage of rubbish on a beach.
Mr. Centineo and Mr. Heller worked with Production Club, a creative studio, to make the final room a memorable and moving experience for visitors. “We wanted to make sure it was bipartisan, but the overall feeling you left was that you felt inspired to vote and blew you away visually and emotionally,” Heller said.
If only one person registers to vote because of the gallery, Mr. Centineo believes it will be worth it. “The intuition behind the engagement of young people with large platforms is to destigmatize the vote,” he said. “I don’t know why there is hesitation. Voting is something you can do whether you are a Conservative or a Liberal. This is something we should be proud of.