NEW YORK — Patrick J. Adams, star of USA Network's legal drama, "Suits," says he was teased when he was a teenager for being interested in theater.
"When you're the guy doing the school plays, that's not necessarily as cool as some of the other people," Adams said in a recent interview. "I got bullied a ton. I got pushed around a lot."
But things changed for Adams.
"By the end of high school, the same guy who was beating me up in the ninth grade and causing me so much strife, by the end of high school was the guy who was asking me how to write a play," Adams said. "Now he's my friend on Facebook and he's always sort of asking me questions about how he can break into the business and (for) my suggestions to become a better actor and writer."
Adams recently visited a high school in St Louis, Mo., and talked with students about their experiences with bullying. The visit was part of USA Network's Characters Unite program, which is designed to stop intolerance.
The network has named February as its second Characters Unite Month. As part of the campaign, various stars from its prime-time shows like "Suits" and "Covert Affairs" have taped public service announcements and are interacting with the public to start a dialogue about discrimination.
USA will air an original, one-hour documentary "NFL Characters Unite," profiling pro football players who share their personal stories of overcoming prejudice and discrimination on Feb. 10.
"White Collar" and "Royal Pains" will each air a special episode that deals with discrimination.
Chris McCumber, co-president of USA Network, said the campaign is a passion project.
"Characters Unite is one of the most important things we do," he said. "It was a single PSA a few years ago and ... it has grown into this big, multiplatform effort."
Viewers can log on to the Characters Unite website and pledge to take a stand against intolerance and watch the public service announcements.
"I really do believe when you raise awareness on these issues it does engage people and get people to act," said McCumber, who hopes spreading awareness during Characters Unite Month will lead to a year-round effort of promoting tolerance and acceptance.
Alicia Rancilio covers entertainment for The Associated Press.
Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/aliciar .