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article imageEnnis Esmer of The Listener challenges you to Live Below The Line Special

By Earl Dittman     Apr 29, 2013 in Entertainment
Ennis Esmer, the star of the CTV hit series, 'The Listener,' is the Canadian ambassador for Live Below The Line, an organization established to raise awareness and funds to eradicate poverty across the planet.
Live Below The Line is a five day charitable challenge – taking place from April 29 to May 3, 2013 – that will be running simultaneously throughout the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, New Zealand and Canada. To generate interest and to encourage people to pledge their time and funds to fight hunger the world over, Live Below The Line is asking its Canadian participants to eat on only $1.75 a day ($1.50 in the U.S.) for five days.
Live Below The Line
In the United States, such celebrities as award-winning actor and director Ben Affleck (Argo), musician Josh Groban, actress Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill) and a host of other big name stars are encouraging Americans to participate in this campaign against poverty. The U.K. also has some of its biggest stars promoting the event, including actor Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World), and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) is the spokesman for Australia. Canada is being represented by some of the country's most talented and popular performers – Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl), Aaron Abrams (Hannibal), Carrie-Lynn Neals (SEED) and Ennis Esmer, Canadian actor, comedian, former late night host (The Toronto Show) and Osman "Oz" Bey on the hit series The Listener.
Ennis Esmer
Ennis Esmer
Ennis Esmer, who just wrapped up the fourth season of The Listener, explains that he first became aware of the work Live Below The Line was doing through a close acquaintance associated with the charitable organization. "My friend, Erin Daviney, is the campaign manager for the Canadian branch of Live Below The Line,” he says. “Erin works for the Global Poverty Project, and I've know n her for a few years. She is also married to my good friend Liam's cousin, so that's how I got involved. She came to me and asked me if I could help raise the profile a bit. To me, I felt like it was a good chance to get people involved. It's a great cause that I really wanted to lend my assistance to. I mean, how good I not want to be a part of something this globally important?”
Live Below The Line
To enact real social and cultural change, Live Below the Line is encouraging everyday people and communities, especially from the participating countries, to participate, so that they can enact this change by simply trying to survive on a daily allowance of $1.75. By using less than $2 each of the five days to nourish their bodies, Live Below The Line is convinced that the people who pledge their support by spending no more than $1.75 for food and beverages, will undergo a surprising experience of self-awareness and come away with a much clearer understanding of what 1.4 billion poverty-stricken men, women and children endure every single moment of their often short and tragic lives.
Funny man Ennis Esmer busts a move on  The Listener
Funny man Ennis Esmer busts a move on 'The Listener'
Known in the entertainment industry as an incredibly hilarious comedian, when it comes to a subject as serious as the hungry, Esmer is extremely serious and passionate about his personal participation and the joint effort from his fellow Canadians in eradicating hunger and deaths from malnutrition.
“I think if each and everyone one of us tries to see what it’s like to survive on almost nothing – for five whole days and nights, which is a heck of a long time to nearly starve – we all will understand, in a very real way, what some of the people just down the block are living through,” Ennis fervently confesses. “If nothing else, I like the way that Live Below The Line is using the premise of living like someone in poverty to spur conversation between us – as Canadians and as members of this global village we call Earth. I think that's the whole point of this entire five day commitment,” Esmer offers. “Once you get to a point you really don't think about what you spend on food, you just sort of accept it, whether a meal cost five bucks or $20.”
Currently starring on a long-running hit Canadian television series (Americans were able to experience the phenomenal first season of the finely-written and superbly-acted The Listener), Esmer admits going without a meal is probably the last thing he worries about on a daily basis. But, the importance of Live Below The Line is not lost on this humble celebrity. “It is something that I am in a fortunate situation where I am able to do not have to worry about getting food, but there are so many people in the world that can't,” Ennis avidly admits. "In the world of film and television, there's a lot of perks. For me, as a cast member on a popular series, I always know that there is a crafts table with food and snacks. The production company (behind The Listener) are feeding you all day. I have to be honest, it is a pretty fortunate situation to be in. I just didn't want to take that for granted. I try not to take it for granted as much as possible. So, being a part of Living Below The Line is a very tangible way to not only do something personally, but also raise money and spread the word. If I could expand my own world by realizing how other people live, then I think that will be personally enriching.
Ennis Esmer and Craig Oljenik star in  The Listener
Ennis Esmer and Craig Oljenik star in 'The Listener'
“If I can help and raise money and raise awareness than that's great,“ Esmer continues. “I know every single person can make a difference, because I am starting to witness it. As Live Below The Line has expedientially become bigger and bigger, more people are getting involved, especially as we’ve gotten closer to today – the start of this incredible global experiment. Because of so many millions of people getting involved it seems more like a community thing than anything else. To everyone involved, it has spurred the conversation of ‘How do you eat well for so little.’ This talk, within the populations of every country involved, can only help bring about the change each and everyone of us desires."
The organizers behind Living Below The Line are not only interested in raising consciousness about poverty, but LBTL is also enacting an innovative fundraising campaign to fight the war on hunger. In Canada and the U.S. (as well as our cousins across the Pond and Down Under) LBTL is enlisting some of their most popular celebrities to film public service announcements to spread the word awareness about the campaign and the plight of the starving. Esmer is one of Canada’s Living Below The Line ambassadors who has taped a number of these televised messages.
"We shot a bunch of videos to raise awareness and I think they are great,” Ennis proudly declares. “More importantly, the ‘Braintrust’ videos were fun and an artistically satisfying thing for me to do. When we started thinking about what we should do, we (Capital C, Zoie Palmer, Aaron Abrams, Naomi Snieckus, Matt Baram, Colin Doyle and Jordan Johnson-Hinds) all knew we had to talk about global poverty, but we had to find a way to raise awareness about it which wasn’t depressing to people. I mean, if you think about it, we are lecturing people, but, at the same time, we’re trying to get them involved in the conversation. I think we came up with several messages that worked.”
More than anything, Esmer is hoping the PSAs will not only get his fellow countrymen (and women) to participate in the five-day $1.75 commitment, but to also offer as much money to the cause as they can afford. “Maybe, after seeing the videos and reading articles like this, people will take the challenge and maybe do some donating. Just the other day, I had a donation of $500 hundred dollars and another one for five dollars. It doesn't really matter. If what we have done can spur a good will in someone else's heart, then that's a good thing.”
Esmer may be a recognizable face, but he realizes he is just a small bit of the solution in ending world hunger. As Ennis sees it, being a television star doesn’t make him anymore important than the tailor down the street or a cashier in a fast food establishment. “People have the perception that actors are always too busy or above it all to lend their support and time to a grassroots cause like Live Below The Line. I can't speak for others, but I am in a decent position. I've had a steadily growing career, but I'm a movie star or anything. I'm sure movie stars don't have time, but they have people they can hire,” Ennis says jokingly. “With me, I'm a business of one. Honestly, if you have the type of ego where you don't think you have time to help with a charity – especially in country like Canada – then there is something seriously wrong with you.
“In this business, you are constantly worried about what your next job is going to be, you are thinking about auditions, you're always running around or you’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to get new photos,” he adds. “There are all these trivial things that go on in our lives. You are always trying to get ahead in your career, but it's great when you do something like this, because it keeps it all in perspective about what is going on in the rest of the world. Being just a tiny part of Live Below The Line has changed my own personal view of the world. Imagine what it could do for yours.”
Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, an charitable organization with one mission in mind – to increase the number of people involved and their effectiveness of their actions in battling extreme poverty. Live Below The Line has joined forces with several of the most honored and dynamic charities in Canada. All these organization are working to aid people in lifting themselves out of extreme poverty – not only in North America, but in some of the planet’s poorest countries. According to Erin Daviney, in the mission statement issued by Live Below The Line, she states:
“We run Live Below the Line because we think that to really fight poverty, we've got to try and understand it – and what better way than by spending just a few days below the poverty line. Poverty is about a lack of opportunity and a lack of choices, Live Below the Line gives participants a glimpse into how the way in which we make our daily decisions changes when we are living below the line.”
It’s these very words that convinced Esmer to get involved. “You never know what it’s like to be someone else – excuse the cliché, but it really applies here – until you walk a mile in their shoes, or in this case, go hungry for several days,” Ennis remarks. “We all get it. Canadians understand, as do the folks in the United Kingdom and Down Under. Even the Americans understand the importance. I mean, they are getting folks like Ben Affleck and Josh Grobin to help get the word out.”
While actors, singers and big name celebrities have donated their time and effort to Live Below The Line, why should everyday people – who have mortgages, car payments and electric bills to worry about – take part in this revolutionary act of defiance against poverty? For Esmer, the answer is easy. “I think that anything that makes you consider that there is a world around you – and make you realize that there are people in a worse situation than you – is something you have to become involved in,” Ennis insists. “World hunger is all of our problem. I think that everybody is everyday people. You have to be aware that there is something connecting all of us. Anyone can help, there is no donation too small. You might think, ‘Ten dollars is not a good enough donation,' but it is – it's what you are able to give.
“I think the whole thing about charity is that you can't guilt people into donating or giving their time,” he candidly admits. “What is great thing about Live Below The Line is that it is making an impact on poverty all over the world, because the number of people who have to live in squalor is dropping. I think it speaks to the legacy of this movement. It's in the UK, Australia, America, Canada and so many other countries. It's amazing to watch it grow, especially since I've been on the ground floor and watching it happening the whole time. It's amazing, and it’s not just actors or celebrities that are making it happen, it's people from all walks of life. I think that is incredible. It has certainly brought us together as human beings. That's a miraculous feat. It makes me proud, not only to be a Canadian, but a member of the human race."
Live Below The Line
If you are anxious to participate in the five-day stance to end hunger or would like to make a donation to the Live Below the Line Canada campaign, visit Citizens of the United States can go online at
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