THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS' Lauralee Bell (Christine) is hoping to use the power of the Internet to make people especially teens think before they text while driving. With her new six-part web series, MI PROMISE, debuting today on www.mipromise.com (with subsequent episodes to be launched through December 13), Bell explores the world of Riley (played by Cassidy Ann Shaffer of Disney's AUSTIN AND ALLY) on her ill-fated sixteenth birthday. "I'm trying not to be Miss Preachy about any of this," insists the actress-turned-producer/director. "I'm just trying to show them that there's more to life than being on your phone, texting.
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"You can't fault the kids," adds Bell. "They are in this time when they really don't know any better. This is how they're growing up, with a phone in their hand!" While Bell believes there is a bigger issue regarding how absorbed kids can be by texting their lives away, MI PROMISE shows the horrific results of a texting while driving. "I wanted to give a face to a person that could be their real-life friend one day," she shares. "I don't want them to have to lose a friend for them to get it. There's no reason why a kid, who just turned 16 and is driving in L.A. or anywhere should be texting, 'I'm 4 away, I'm 2 away...' You'll get there when you get there!"
Bell not only plays the grief-stricken mom in the series, but she took on the additional duty of being the director. "That was something I went back and forth on," she admits. "I didn't want someone asking me about what shots I wanted when I was sitting at the bedside, crying! But I could visually see how everything should be, how I wanted it to go. My dad [Y&R's co-creator, the late Bill Bell] taught me how important family dynamics are. And as soon as you have interest in a character, you care. Because of that, I knew how important it was to be bubble-gummy at the beginning you have to get that she's a teenager and you have to see that she's so psyched about her life."
As important as it was to address the brutal and sometimes irreversible consequence of texting while driving, Bell says she didn't want to get too graphic. "We've softened it as much as possible, because I don't want parents to go, 'Oh, my God. I don't want my kids to see that!' We wanted to make the point, 'When you get in that car, you need to be totally focused. Don't blow it. Don't add an element that can up your chances of anything happening. Be present in your life!'"
Once the entire web series is available online, Bell hopes people will share it with the teens in their life. "This is really a way to get the point across without making the teen feel like their being lectured to or scolded!"