He played a bad guy in the 2014 hit Maze Runner, but in real life actor Will Poulter is helping to fight bullies – and he has a powerful ally on his side: Prince William.
Poulter, 22, met with William during an anti-bullying workshop at Hammersmith Academy in west London on Monday. A proud ambassador of the day’s organizers, the Diana Award, since 2011, Poulter tweeted about the “amazing vibes and positive energy” during William’s visit.
Prince William “seems genuinely invested in wanting to cause a change to the way in which we approach bullying at our schools and ensure schools are a happy and safe place for people to be,” Poulter tells PEOPLE.
The Diana Award, set up in the name of William’s late mother, supports ambassadors in schools who can help identify and tackle bullying and support victims.
The prince, who took part in workshops and met school kids, “said he’d learned a lot from being here and is particularly interested in the cyberbullying work that’s being done,” says Poulter, who also stars with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in the Oscar-season epic The Revenant in December.
“By him being here, it is a stamp of legitimacy on the hard work and the things that have been put in place already by this campaign,” says the English actor.
Growing up at his west London school, Poulter says he was fortunate he didn’t experience any “severe bullying, but I experienced a little bit. I was lucky that the school was very proactive.”
Tessy Ojo, CEO of the Diana Award, says it is clear that William, like his mother, was not happy to be a simple “bystander” to problems.
“He talked about how much he had learned from the young people,” she says. “We know young people are ahead of the game, and that’s why our ethos is about empowering young people in tackling it.”
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