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'Felt like an outsider': Arnold Schwarzenegger's son Joseph Baena was bullied in school for being overweight

Joseph Baena, who plays a class president in new movie 'Bully High', drew from his harrowing experience as an overweight student
UPDATED NOV 12, 2022
Arnold Schwarzenegger's son Joseph Baena plays a class president in new movie Bully High.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's son Joseph Baena plays a class president in new movie Bully High.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Arnold Schwarzenegger's son Joseph Baena, 25, has revealed he was bullied in school for being overweight. In elementary and high school, Joseph was shocked to learn that even his closest friends were bullying him over his weight. "That was really a big struggle for me," he told People. According to Baena, who plays Eddie, a class president and baseball player, in Bill McAdams Jr's new feature film 'Bully High', bullying is a topic he has some personal experience with.

The 'Dancing with the Stars' contestant revealed that 'Bully High' follows a Pakistani high school exchange student, Maryam (Aneesha Madhok), who is harassed and bullied because she proudly wears a hijab at a new school. He added the story was something close to his heart as he was a victim of bullying as well.


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"I was bullied when I was a kid, elementary, middle school, and not really in high school, but I just felt like an outsider in high school at the beginning," Baena said, explaining he was "really overweight from the end of elementary school into the beginning of high school."

"And so, from my closest friends, it wasn't like outside people or people that I didn't know, or popular kids or whatever," Baena continued. "It was my closest friends that were the ones that bullied me the most and made fun of me for being overweight and all these kind of things. So, that was really a big struggle for me in finding myself and figuring out and creating that ambition to change my weight and my physique and all these kind of things," Joseph, eho is the son of Arnold from an affair with his housemaid Mildred Patricia Baena, added.
Similiar to the movie, he became a school leader by the time he was a senior in high school. He described his character as "the studly guy on the baseball team" and best friend to star athlete Zack (Cedric Begley), whose government teacher and baseball coach father Bob Walker (McAdams Jr) bullies Maryam.

"It wasn't too hard to get into the character," Baena said of drawing on real-life experience for the role. "And doing that and being the president, I feel like I curated a good community within the school where everyone was very inclusive, all the clubs were running really smoothly, all the dances ran really smoothly. So, for the bullying for this film, I just thought about the bullying that I received for being overweight, which is very different [to what happens in Bully High], but that was the most similar thing that I could personally compare it to," he added.

The film centers on Maryam, a high school exchange student who wears a hijab and is bullied by peers and teachers. In another plotline, Pakistani exchange student Michelle and Christian lesbian Nicole fight stereotypes in order to live peacefully together. Another character, Scarlet Smith, the class bully, has reasons for her mean attitude as her dark past is revealed in the plot. 'Bully High' is streaming on Tubi now.