Movies

Pitbull takes on UglyDolls, bullying and self-acceptance

LOS ANGELES An animated film about misfit toys seems an unlikely fit for a smooth reggaeton rapper, but Pitbull is front and centre in UglyDolls and he loves the message it sends.

The film, which opens here on June 6, tells the story of toys discarded for not being perfect - and the resolve of one doll, Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), to be loved by a child.

"Perfection doesn't exist and what I want for young people, for kids, is for them to appreciate what it is to be different, that it's something good," said Pitbull, who voices the one-eyed UglyDog, Moxy's best friend.

Pitbull, 38, is joined in the cast by a host of other musicians, including country star Blake Shelton, pop futurist Janelle Monae and pop singers Nick Jonas, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX.

It's not his first foray on the big screen though. The Cuban-American also did voice work for the 2013 animated film Epic, and his music has been featured on soundtracks of major films such as Aquaman.

But UglyDolls dovetails nicely with his work to fight bullying and support educational initiatives in Miami's Little Havana, where he grew up.

"If what people are saying about you (online) is affecting you, put down the phone. Why even read it?" said Pitbull, who has 7.5 million Instagram followers but is against what he sees as an obsession with social media, especially among young people.

"With social media, we're only seeing followers and likes," he said. "Forget about that, we have to be leaders and be unique - that's the important thing. Between filters and Photoshop, we end up looking like people we aren't."

Pitbull remembered advice from his mother, whom he also credits with setting him on a new path after his rough past, about dealing with kids who were making fun of his "clown nose" when he was six.

"You're going to go to school, you're going to grab your nose and go 'honk, honk' and you're going to tell them that you're a clown - and they won't tease you anymore," he recalled her saying. - AFP

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