Cameron Boyce was proud of his family background.
In what was reportedly his last interview, the 20-year-old talked to Haute Living about his diverse heritage which included a Jewish mother, an African-American father and grandmother who became one of the symbols of the civil rights movement.
The actor’s grandmother, Jo Ann Allen Boyce, was one of the “Clinton 12,” a group of black students who made history after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which ordered Clinton High School in Clinton, Tennessee, to desegregate.
She recently co-authored a book titled, “This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality.”
“Her story doesn’t just inspire me … It hits home with everyone who stops to listen to it,” her grandson told the publication.
“She and the other 11 students set the stage for our generation to come together. We have to ensure — especially with some of the controversy plaguing us now — that we continue to push towards dreams that have yet to be realized. Equality in its truest sense.”
Boyce also said of his grandmother, “She’s a huge part of who I am.”
“Being African American and Jewish, I have plenty of ancestors and family members that I can look to for strength, and more importantly, for a grateful outlook on life,” he said. “Every one of them clawed and scratched for my sister and I to be in the position we’re in today.”
The Disney Channel star died in his sleep after a seizure resulting from an ongoing medical condition, a spokesperson for his family told CNN Sunday.
“I’m overwhelmed with the love and support our family has received. It really does help to ease the pain of this nightmare I can’t wake up from,” Victor Boyce, the late actor’s father, wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “I can’t thank you guys enough.”
During his life Cameron Boyce was involved in several philanthropic endeavors, including the Thirst Project, a nonprofit that provides communities with safe drinking water.
He told Haute Living he was merely carrying on the legacy given that “there’s a long line of difference makers in my family.”
“I’m following in the footsteps of some really strong men and women who have showed me what it means to give back; it’s the greatest way to fulfill yourself,” he said. “Every time I talk to someone who shares that similar passion, we talk about how there aren’t many feelings more euphoric. Changing someone else’s life positively changes yours for the better as well.”
The young actor wanted to inspire others, he said.
“Many people have the heart to give back, but a lot don’t know how to,” he said. “I try to be the bridge for those people — whether that means getting them involved in one of my campaigns or inspiring them by showing them a blueprint of how to get others engaged.”