You might recognize Shaun Robinson as a co-host of the entertainment news show “Access Hollywood” or have heard about her many accolades from her career in television news, including an Emmy and a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. But that work is just at the tip of her personal iceberg. What really drives Robinson is her passionate commitment to helping young women who struggle with self-esteem issues. Her S.H.A.U.N. Foundation for Girls supports grassroots charities that focus on the empowerment of girls, including health initiatives in communities of color.
By Stacy Moser
What first inspired you to achieve such a high level of activism in your career?
My parents always taught me, from a young age, that if God gives you a platform, use it to help others. That became my foundation for wanting to give back. Also, I attended Spelman College. The experience of an all-girls school taught me about the importance of sisterhood. When women band together and support each other, we make extraordinary things happen.
Did the experience of living in Atlanta during college motivate you to speak out about health issues in communities of color?
As students, we would regularly walk to the local fast-food restaurants because those were the places that were close. That’s often the case in communities of color—not having an abundance of healthy choices. We created the HEALTH division of my foundation to teach girls about healthy lifestyle habits and the importance of taking care of your body starting at a young age. We recently gave a grant to an amazing organization—Healthy Girls Save the World. They go into underserved school districts and help educate girls on leading healthy lives. We want to find and support more organizations like this.
Tell us more about being on the advisory board of Girl Up, the United Nations’ campaign working to empower adolescent girls around the globe.
Being a part of Girl Up has been extraordinary. These “rock star” girls travel around the world to advocate for girls who don’t have a voice—whether it’s speaking out against child marriage, lack of access to education, genital mutilation and other issues girls in other countries have to deal with. They have direct contact with girls overseas. It works because they are relating to someone their own age.
On Feb. 20, you’ll be at Spelman College to speak about human trafficking. In the past, you’ve said that trafficking is happening under our very noses in our own homes.
Every young lady living in Atlanta is at risk for having her life touched by human trafficking—either directly, through someone she knows, or in her immediate community. That is a fact. Traffickers are getting bolder and smarter about how they approach young women, using tactics that are very hard to detect. Did you know there are girls who live with their parents, go to school, come home, do their homework, and then engage in sex trafficking? I speak at these events to educate girls about those dangers and tell them how they can help someone who they think may be in this lifestyle. We can all help by being a part of the discussion and work to find solutions.
Who helps you be your best self?
My mom is the one who encourages me to do my best. She has always been my cheerleader. She has such great compassion for others and has taught me to reach back and help the less fortunate. God blessed me with an amazing mom!
To find out how you can help, go to www.shaunfoundationforgirls.org.