Tuesday, November 13, 2018
News Roundup

John Cena's #WeAreAmerica campaign video in Ybor City strikes chord with Tampa Bay (w/video)

TAMPA — In his latest video gone viral, celebrity wrestler John Cena saunters through the streets of Ybor City, speaking directly to the camera.

He isn't promoting the WWE or pitching his latest flick.

Instead, Cena, who built his brand on the words "hustle, loyalty and respect," delivers a different sort of message. He urges Americans to love each other, regardless of sexuality, race or religion.

"To love America is to love all Americans," Cena says. "Because love has no labels."

The video, part of a larger campaign by the Ad Council aimed at celebrating diversity, has taken off. Since its Fourth of July debut on Facebook, it has amassed more than 8 million views.

Cena's message resonated with LGBT activist and former Ybor City business owner Carrie West — particularly after a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando left 49 dead last month.

"We needed it," West said. "Especially right now."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also was touched.

"What makes America great is not when we demonize and divide people based on race, creed, ethnicity, gender, the God you worship or who you love, but when we elevate each other and celebrate the fact that in our differences we are one nation," he said in a statement.

Cena, who has a home in Land O'Lakes, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The 39-year-old Massachusetts native first came onto the wrestling scene in 1999, but has become famous over the last decade. He has won about two dozen wrestling titles, released a rap album and appeared in movies alongside Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

He filmed the public service announcement on June 27, the same day the wrestling TV show WWE Raw filmed at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. In addition to Facebook, the video appeared on YouTube.

Tyler Martinolich, of the Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission, said the campaign's producers had narrowed the list of potential locations to St. Petersburg and Ybor City. The crew ultimately went with Ybor because of the district's distinct architecture and diverse community, he said.

In Ybor, American, Italian, Cuban and gay pride flags are usually flying, not just during public service announcement shoots. The historic district is also known for being home to various immigrant groups.

To many Tampa residents, the choice made sense.

"It speaks so highly of who we are," Visit Tampa Bay president Santiago Corrada said. "Almost like justification of what we always say: that we're just an accommodating place, a tolerating place."

The video starts with a familiar theme for Cena.

"Patriotism," he says. "There's a word thrown around a lot. It inspires passionate debate and is worn like a badge of honor, and for good reason, because it means love and devotion for one's country … Patriotism is love for a country, not just pride in it."

Cena asks the viewer to visualize the "average" American — and then shatters stereotypes.

"First off, the average American is a woman," Cena says. "Cool huh? Is that what you pictured?"

He goes on to tick off statistics: 54 million U.S. citizens are Latino, 40 million are senior citizens, 27 million are disabled. He adds that 3.5 million are Muslim — triple the number of people serving in the U.S. military.

Almost half the country belongs to minority groups, Cena says. That includes people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, Native American — "and proud of it."

"We know that labels don't devalue us," Cena says. "They help define us, keeping us dialed into our cultures and our beliefs in who we are as Americans."

He pauses.

"After all, what's more American than freedom to celebrate the things that make us, us?"

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

 
Comments
Time running out for officials to reach stadium deal with Rays

Time running out for officials to reach stadium deal with Rays

With elections in the rearview mirror, focus shifts to efforts to move the Tampa Bay Rays to Ybor City.
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Jefferson shakes up coaching staff, finds playoff spark

Jefferson shakes up coaching staff, finds playoff spark

Three weeks ago, Jefferson was upset by Robinson 22-19 in the regular-season finale. It was the fourth time the Dragons lost by five points or fewer this season. Despite being 5-5, first-year Jefferson coach Joe Midulla was confident his team wo...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Ever wondered what your sports cards are worth? This guy can help

Ever wondered what your sports cards are worth? This guy can help

Michael Osacky will be in Tampa on Thursday to appraise items from before 1975.
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Blake Snell wins … the Warren Spahn award as top lefty

Blake Snell wins … the Warren Spahn award as top lefty

With a bigger prize to be presented on Wednesday, Rays top starter Blake Snell on Tuesday was named the winner of the Warren Spahn award given to the game's top lefty pitcher.The award, based on wins, ERA and strikeouts, is given in the name of the H...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Allegiant Air opening nine new routes from Sarasota, Bradenton

Allegiant Air opening nine new routes from Sarasota, Bradenton

Allegiant Air is opening nine new nonstop routes from the Sarasota area to destinations such as Baltimore.
Updated: 1 hour ago
FanSided: No NFL seat is hotter than the one underneath the Bucs’ Dirk Koetter

FanSided: No NFL seat is hotter than the one underneath the Bucs’ Dirk Koetter

Dirk Koetter tops FanSided's ranking of eight NFL head coaches on the hot seat, among the top headlines today on Sports Illustrated's website.
Updated: 1 hour ago
'We just keep asking why,' says family of man shot dead by Lakeland store owner

'We just keep asking why,' says family of man shot dead by Lakeland store owner

Christobal Lopez's family describe him as a peaceful man and criticize a judge's decision to let his killer, now-former Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn, go on an out-of-state vacation.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Losing Hudson and Mittye P. Locke elementaries? Pasco parents, students and teachers push back against proposed school closings

Losing Hudson and Mittye P. Locke elementaries? Pasco parents, students and teachers push back against proposed school closings

Two west Pasco schools are recommended for closure as officials seek to consolidate students and programs. Reaction to the idea hasn't been overly positive.
Updated: 1 hour ago
A wrong-way driver slammed into her on the Howard Frankland Bridge. She's alive and grateful.

A wrong-way driver slammed into her on the Howard Frankland Bridge. She's alive and grateful.

Andrea Rusch, a 24-year-old bartender at Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill in St. Petersburg, has undergone three surgeries but is expected to be discharged from St. Joseph's Hospital this week.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Port Tampa Bay raises CEO Paul Anderson's salary 4.5 percent to $436,720

Port Tampa Bay raises CEO Paul Anderson's salary 4.5 percent to $436,720

Tuesday's vote to give Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson a 4.5 percent raise was unanimous. The vote to extend his contract two years? Not so much.
Updated: 2 hours ago