Both as Supernatural’s Sam Winchester and in real life, Jared Padalecki hopes to save lives. The actor, 32, has recently taken part in a campaign for To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit organization which aims to help those struggling with depression, addiction and suicidal ideation.
“Always Keep Fighting” is the slogan for his T-shirt campaign which has far exceeded its goal of 1,000 sold thanks to the cause’s message and thanks to his passionate fanbase (his face emblazoned on the front of the shirt probably hasn’t hurt). In an exclusive chat with PEOPLE, Padalecki revealed why the campaign is so important to him as well as what’s coming up for his character on Supernatural, how he and costar Jensen Ackles mess with each other on set and whether you can expect to see him take part in a Gilmore Girls reunion.
I Tweeted that I was going to talk to you and somebody reached out to me and wanted you to know that, as someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, they appreciate everything that you’re doing. What’s it like to have that kind of positive effect on your fanbase?
It’s really hard to put into words. It’s been amazing. Hopefully it’s helping to destigmatize these issues, because it’s all around us. It’s ubiquitous, and people hide it. If somebody has cancer, they’re not embarrassed to have cancer – they know it’s no their fault. They know it’s a struggle. But, for some reason, if someone says they’re depressed, they assume that people are going to look at them like they have three heads. Hopefully, this is helping to start a conversation.
Why did you decide to start the “Always Keep Fighting” campaign?
All of the cards fell in the right place. Specifically, [Arrow star] Stephen Amell did a few fundraisers through F— Cancer, and he approached me and told me that it’s remarkable how supportive the fans are and how much money and awareness they’re able to raise for these great causes. A month or so after we started talking about it, I received a phone call on New Year’s Day and I learned that my friend of 10 years had lost his battle with depression. I’m not alone, here, and there are so many people out there who have experienced the same thing. I have friends and a life and people I work with and I get a lot of love and support – this campaign is more about those who don’t have as much of a support system as I do.
And why did you choose that slogan?
I used to work with somebody who had been sober for 20 years, and he told me that it’s a daily struggle – that he wakes up every morning knowing it’s going to be a battle. We were talking about maybe going with “Never Give Up,” but that just puts somebody on defense, like their only options are to get beaten down or to quit. It’s a proactive approach, and that’s what was important to me – if you think it’s just going to go away, it’s not going to. We need to take these things head-on and treat it like a fight. People who are dealing with depression or addition or suicidal thoughts or mental illness … they’re strong. You’re strong because you’ve been in this fight and you wake up thinking you’re going to beat it again today. Continue reading