Photo Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald Charity Day 2012; YouTube
Ron Livingston has no problem sharing the spotlight with his newly famous sister Jennifer. A Wisconsin news anchor, Jennifer Livingston became a viral video sensation this week when she responded on-air to a letter criticizing her weight. Meanwhile, Ron, who starred in the film Office Space and played Jack Berger on Sex in the City, has watched proudly from the sidelines.
"My sister Jennifer is an Emmy-winning journalist and mother of three amazing girls," Ron said Thursday in a statement. "She brings an exceptional dedication to her job, her family, and her community, and has been a role model of mine for many, many years. I'm extremely proud of her."
While Jennifer usually only speaks to her viewers in La Crosse, Wisc., she won fans around the world with her on-air editorial against bullying. (Watch below!) The segment was inspired by a particularly hurtful letter from a viewer, accusing Jennifer of being a poor role model to the community because of her weight. The news anchor responded to her critic on air, saying, "You know nothing about me besides what you see on the outside -- and I am much more than a number on a scale." She then turned the letter into a wider lesson about bullying -- a lesson that hit home with both ordinary people and celebrities.
"What a powerful message against bullying. @News8Jennifer, I would love to meet you in person," Ellen DeGeneres tweeted on Tuesday. (Ellen has also invited Jennifer to appear on her chat show next week.)
"Jennifer Livingston the anchor who fought back against comments made about her, is my new hero!" actress Jennifer Love Hewitt tweeted in response to the viral video. "Way to go! She's a beautiful woman!"
During an appearance on Good Morning America (watch below), Livingston explained why this particular letter inspired her to speak up.
"I think, in his mind, [the letter writer] views himself as being helpful which is what I think a little bit of the problem is," said the news woman. "He doesn’t see that the way that he approached it was clearly hurtful to me. He’s trying to shame me into losing weight. That’s not being helpful. That’s being a bully."
“What really angered me more so than his attack on her not being a role model for the community is that he doesn’t know Jennifer," her husband Mike Thompson added. "He doesn’t know that Jennifer has ran triathlons....She works out two or three times a week. She is going to run in a race this weekend. He doesn’t know that. He doesn’t know that she has a condition, a thyroid condition, that makes it harder for her to lose weight...He just decided to attack her for no reason."
So far, the letter writer has been unapologetic. But even if he hasn't learned a lesson from Jennifer Livingston, it seems that lots of other people have.