Spotlight on Los Angeles!
THE NEWSLETTER OF THE ACTORS FUND
FALL 2012 ISSUE: VOLUME 15, NUMBER 2
vieWs from Shonda Rhimes
Award Winning Creator, Producer and Writer of TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and the hit show Scandal.
Please consider giving money
to The Actors Fund.
The reason why is simple. The reason why is basic.
The reason why is fundamental. You like movies.
You like TV. You like theatre. You like concerts.
You like dance. You like the arts. Maybe you’re like
me—maybe you even love the arts, maybe you can’t
imagine your life without the arts, can’t imagine
how you’d have survived high school without the
soundtrack of a certain Broadway show or the dialogue from a certain movie. Maybe at some point,
exposure to the arts changed the course of your life in
a profound way. Maybe you’re an artist now. Or maybe you just like to escape reality every once in a while
and be entertained. Either way, you like the arts.
Here’s where The Actors Fund comes in.
The Actors Fund provides assistance to the artists
that create the movies and theatre and TV shows
and dance and concerts that you enjoy. Simply put,
The Actors Fund supports the artists who make
the stuff you like to watch. And by “support”,
I mean SUPPORT. No. Wait. I mean SUPPORT.
With underlines and italics.
If a dancer breaks her leg and can’t work,
The Actors Fund pays her mortgage. If a grip gets
cancer, The Actors Fund covers the gap left by his
health insurance. If a costume designer needs a
rehab program, The Actors Fund provides a place to
go. If an out of work actor can’t afford shoes to wear
to audition, The Actors Fund buys him shoes. If a
writer has lost his benefits and finds out he has HIV,
The Actors Fund gives him free medical care. If a
studio musician finds himself homeless, The Actors
Fund gives him a place to live. If a wonderful unsung character actor dies and there is no one to bury
her, The Actors Fund pays for her funeral.
I want to take a moment to say that, when I found
out about The Actors Fund and what the organization does, I got a little bit choked up. They give out
shoes. They provide housing. They provide medical
care. They provide funding. They pay for funerals.
No wait. THEY PAY FOR FUNERALS.
In providing these services, The Actors Fund has
decided that the importance of an artist’s contribution to show business is not determined by the level
of his paycheck. It’s determined by his creativity.
That the least famous among us deserve the same
respect as the most famous. That every artist who
commits to this
business we all playfully
call “show business”
deserves the dignity and
respect and support of
like-minded people. So
they give out shoes. And
they provide a place to
lay one’s head. And they
pay for funerals.
To me, that’s the
definition of a community. The Actors Fund is a
community of people who support artists.
Which—simply, basically, fundamentally—is why
you should consider giving money to The Actors
Fund. Because if you support The Actors Fund, you
support the arts. You support art. You support music
and dance and writing and acting. You support
creativity and imagination and the spinning of
dreams into gold. And, most importantly, you
support a community. You help move a community
forward. You join the community. Join us.
Please consider giving to The Actors Fund.
729 S E V E NT H AV E N UE , 10 T H F LO O R
NEW Y OR K , NY 1 0 0 1 9
IN THIS ISSUE
Views from Shonda Rhimes..............................1
Community & Collaboration in LA................... 2
The LA Ofﬁce and Western Council................... 2
Spolight on Los Angeles................................... 3
Special Performances and Events.................... 4
Our LA Clients Share Their Stories............. 5 – 6
Young Performers Grow,
Give Back & Have Fun...................................... 6
WGAW Donates Nearly $1 Million
to Aid Entertainment Industry Workers............6
Responding to Unique Economic
Challenges in LA............................................... 6
Spotlight on Los Angeles!
Community & Collaboration in Los Angeles
Los Angeles has been called the “entertainment capital of the world.”
According to the 2011 OTIS Report on the Creative Economy, the LA
entertainment business accounts for an estimated $71.1 billion in economic
impact, and more than a quarter-million jobs in the area. That’s big money,
but it also means big talent, as Southern California’s creative community is
responsible for producing the movies, documentaries, TV shows, music and
so much more that drive a considerable portion of that economy.
But like everywhere, the current recession has had a negative impact on
this community, and in the sprawling Los Angeles region, finding help when
you need it can seem daunting. With a metropolitan area spread over 300
square miles, 88 municipalities and a network of more than 500 miles of freeways, Los Angeles has been described as 100 communities in search of a city.
Where do you turn when you need help?
Thanks to your support, the creative community turns to The Actors Fund.
We serve as home-base to thousands of people in entertainment, whether it’s
through our support groups, youth programs, health insurance counseling,
social services, emergency financial aid, or employment and training services,
The Fund is there to lend support, guidance and give a “leg up” to people in
Hollywood has always been there for The Fund—just as The Fund has
been there from Hollywood’s beginnings—to help our compatriots in need.
From the early days of the industry, when people like Douglas Fairbanks
performed in a 1916 “Roman Spectacle” benefit production of Julius Caesar
in the Beachwood natural amphitheatre (today’s Hollywood Bowl), to this past
March, when the cast of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy donated a one-night-only
benefit at UCLA’s Royce Hall (see p. 1 for a special message from Grey’s
executive producer Shonda Rhimes), the tradition of caring for everyone in
entertainment continues to this day.
To better serve the region, 40 years ago we opened our Los Angeles office,
and our presence and programs have grown exponentially since then. Today,
22 LA staff members ensure our myriad programs and services are available to
the wide variety of people working in entertainment. From Texas to Washington, our LA office helps people in 14 states (including Alaska and Hawaii). We
are there for writers, actors, musicians, gaffers, electricians, camera operators,
production assistants, editors, and hundreds of others both “behind the scenes”
and “below the line”—everyone who makes the magic happen.
Together, we’re creating a unique and much-needed community of
entertainment professionals in the area (see p. 3 for an overview of who and
how we serve). The Fund provides a vital link, and—most importantly—brings
people together so they can help each other.
The Los Angeles office—like our New York and Chicago offices—
continues to respond to the essential and evolving needs that arise due to
national and regional challenges. For example, during the AIDS crisis in the
early 1980s, The Fund was there to help people in the industry cope with the
marQuee FALL 2012
volume 15, number 2
The Actors Fund is a national
human services organization
that helps all professionals
in performing arts and
entertainment. The Fund is a
safety net, providing programs
and services for those who are
in need, crisis or transition.
729 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Grey’s Anatomy raised $100,000 for The Fund at their March 18 one-night-only event!
(l-r): Western Region Director Keith McNutt, Sarah Drew, Trustee Jomarie Ward,
Kevin McKidd, Western Council Chair & Vice Chair John Holly & Ilene Graff,
Shonda Rhimes, President Joe Benincasa, Kim Raver and James Pickens, Jr.
8 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
disease, and established a community committed to extending support
with dignity and respect for all. In 1998, The Fund opened the Palm View
residence, which today provides 40 units for low income people living with
The Fund also quickly responded to the industry strike and labor disputes
in 2007–08, serving five times the usual number of people helped by the office
and distributing more than $1.5 million in emergency grants. More recently,
our clients have sought support due to a new wave of regional job losses
(see Responding to Unique Economic Challenges in LA on p. 6).
5757 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
All told, The Actors Fund has provided more than $10.7 million
in emergency ﬁnancial aid to nearly 13,000 entertainment
professionals across Southern California in the last decade.
“There are huge challenges to remaining healthy and creative in this
industry,” says Fund Western Council Chair John Holly. “That’s why it’s
essential that we build awareness that we’re here for everyone. This
community relies on The Fund to overcome issues like lack of work, aging in
the industry, and adjusting to quickly evolving trends. We’ve almost doubled
the number of people we serve in the last five years alone. That speaks to a
real need out there, and it’s a challenge we’re prepared to meet.”
In this issue of Marquee, we turn the spotlight on our Los Angeles office.
In addition to our front page piece by Shonda Rhimes, you’ll also hear from
the clients we serve (pgs. 5 and 6), get a visual snapshot who and how we help
(p. 3) and more. Whether it’s through collaboration with other organizations or
through our direct services, our goal is always the same—ensuring people in
entertainment stay safe, healthy, employed and creative. Here’s to Hollywood!
Our Los Angeles Ofﬁce!
The Western Council
Our LA staff comprises professional social workers, career counselors,
youth specialists and education counselors who specialize in helping our
community deal with the unique challenges of a career in entertainment.
For a list of our entire team, visit actorsfund.org/staff.
Our Western Council works tirelessly to raise awareness about and
support for our programs and services for the LA community. They
joined Jason Alexander, Scott Bakula and Annie Potts for our June
10 Tony Party at the Skirball Center, where we presented Jason
with the Julie Harris Award.
The Al Hirschfeld Free
475 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
The Dorothy Ross
(formerly The Aurora)
New York, NY
The Palm View
West Hollywood, CA
The Lillian Booth
212.221.7300 ext. 176
Actors Fund Programs:
Senior and Disabled Care
Phyllis Newman Women’s
The Dancers’ Resource
American Comedy Fund
Conrad Cantzen Shoe Fund
Funerals and Burials
Artists Health Insurance
Al Hirschfeld Free
The Actors Fund Work
Back row (l-r): Meg Thomas, Robin LaBorwit, Mallory Morehead, Amanda Steele,
Amy Hammond, Tina Hookom, Ze’Ev Korn, Joanne Webb, Louie Anchondo,
Angelique Prahalis, Frank Salamone. Seated (l–r): Dan Kitowski, Karen Hanen,
Gregory Polcyn, Annie Keating-Scherer, Joey Shanley, John Mattson. Not pictured:
Jan-Kees Van Der Gaag, TaNisha Harris, Keith McNutt, Caitlin Sorenson.
Fund Western Region Director Keith McNutt, William Thomas, Ilyanne Morden
Kichaven, Michael Medico, Jomarie Ward, Richard Herd, Vice Chair David Rambo,
Jason Alexander, Vice Chair Ilene Graff, Scott Bakula, James Karen, John Acosta,
Danny Goldman, B. Harlan Boll, Fund Events Manager Meg Thomas. Seated (l–r):
Charlotte Rae, Annie Potts. Not pictured: Barbara Allyne Bennet, Joni Berry,
Theodore Bikel, John Bowab, Pam Dixon, Budd Friedman, Katherine Fugate, Dan
Guerrero, Bridget Hanley, Daniel Henning, John Holly, Scott Roth, Joseph Ruskin,
Bryan Unger, Ken Werther, Mary Lou Westerﬁeld, Martin Wiviott, David Young.
We mourn the passing of our devoted Trustees Celeste Holm,
Dale Olson and A.J. Pocock. Each played leading roles for
The Fund, and we will miss them. Celeste and Dale served as chairs
of the committee overseeing The Lillian Booth Actors Home, and both
helped create the best possible quality of life for our residents.
When the HIV/AIDS crisis devastated the entertainment community,
Dale was among the first to speak out for those in need. In 1990, A.J. led
the merger of The Percy Williams Home into The Actors Fund, creating a
$3.2 million endowment. He also succeeded Colleen Dewhurst as
Chair of the Human Services Committee, and led our Budget and
Finance Committee. We applaud their commitment to making the world
a better place—especially their dedication to bringing comfort and relief
to thousands of our colleagues in the performing arts community.
The Lillian Booth
The Dorothy Ross
(formerly The Aurora)
The Palm View
For more information on Actors
Fund programs, please call
800.221.7303 or visit our
website at www.actorsfund.org.
Scott Appel, Robert Ascroft,
Lyn Hughes, Dexter Kim/
Writers Guild of America,
West, Eric Richardson,
Magen Senen, Jordan Strauss
Design: Holly Wheeler
Copy: David Engelman,
Karissa Krenz, Jeff Potter,
Programs & Services
STAYING HEALTHY + GETTING INSURED
4 533 12 800 33 + 85
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
DIGNITY, RESPECT AND
million in emergency financial aid to nearly
13,000 entertainment professionals across
Southern California in the last decade.
$2.5 million nationally in 2011.
CLASSES AND CAREER PANELS
“Our partnership with The Actors Fund has led to
prestigious grants from the NEA and ArtPlace
and fresh exploration of affordable housing
opportunities in Downtown Los Angeles. It’s a
win for our creative community and a win for our
city.” —Olga Garay, Executive Director of the City
of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
Learn more at actorsfund.org/AFHDC
...to West Hollywood
“Actor” is part of our name, but did you catch
our tag line? Your support helps everyone in the
LA performing arts and entertainment community!
...to Downtown LA
AND HAVING FUN
JOB CLUBS AND JOB SEARCH
ENCORE SENIOR GROUP
Helping people & Welcoming everyone
With Dignity, Respect & Confidentiality
Our LA clients—and anyone in our community—can reach
out for assistance via our Programs & Services when faced
with challenges (including mental health issues, chemical
dependency, aging or disability), or if they want to develop
strategies for financial wellness. We also target groups, such as
comedians, women, dancers and people living with HIV/AIDS,
to ensure no one is without the care they need.
Staying healthy & Getting insured
Our Artists Health Insurance Resource Center educates the
community on health insurance and health care resources,
and explains how health care reform offers new and affordable
options for coverage. In collaboration with MusiCares and
Venice Family Clinic, The Performing Artists Clinic provides
free medical care to those in need in the Los Angeles area.
Providing a safety net
In unforeseen times of need, like the 2007–08 Writers’ Strike,
Emergency Financial Assistance keeps our clients safe and
healthy by preventing foreclosures or evictions, ensuring
ongoing transportation, helping secure medical insurance or
paying to keep the lights on—all without the added burden
of having to pay back new loans and incur more debt.
Help During Tax Season
51 low and moderate income union individuals and families
took advantage of the 2012 pilot season of the Entertainment
Industry Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) for
free tax preparation, sponsored in collaboration with Actors’
Equity, SAG Foundation, SAG-AFTRA and IATSE. We filed
105 federal and state returns combined!
Groups offer unique opportunities for the LA community
to gather in a safe environment to share challenges, expand
networks and receive encouragement and support around
• Financial Wellness
• Women’s health, HIV+ groups & peer support
• Aging in the industry
• Fighting depression & anxiety
As gas prices increase, it’s often too expensive to drive long
distances for help. By partnering with Local 80 IATSE, Motion
Picture Studio Grips/Crafts Service in Burbank for Valley Days,
we bring our services closer to hundreds of people in a different part of town, with guest speakers at forums like “Getting
Unstuck, Using Your Creativity to Unlock Open Doors” or
“Manage Your Stress = Manage Your Life.” Special thanks to IA
friends Russell Nordstedt and Thom Davis for this tremendous
Our Job Clubs give members a supportive place to network,
learn job search technologies, conduct informational interviews
and share contacts and resources.
Many in the arts can’t afford safe housing near their
workplace. We’re committed to expanding Affordable
Housing opportunities throughout our community.
Our Palm View residence provides a home to 40 low-income
people with HIV/AIDS in West Hollywood.
With our partners (ArtPlace in Minneapolis, the City of
Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and the California
Institute of the Arts and Bringing Back Broadway), the National
Endowment for the Arts funded our exploration of the
Broadway Arts Center, which would offer affordable artists’
housing, performance and exhibition space, an educational
facility and support for Downtown LA’s historic theatres.
Many in the creative community are employed on a project basis,
so are perpetually looking for work, running through savings or
losing benefits. The Actors Fund Work Program (AWP) helps
people build a more stable financial life and increase long-term
career satisfaction by working with them to find better sideline,
parallel and new careers through counseling, job training and job
One-on-one Career Counseling provides invaluable assistance
for people in identifying and finding fulfilling secondary work to
complement their industry work, and can also help in transitions.
Regular orientations welcome new members to the AWP
community, while career panels like our “Educational Opportunities Fest and Fair” in partnership with SAG-AFTRA, the SAG
Foundation, and Career Transition for Dancers, give people a
forum to get inspired and explore alternative career options.
sPecial Performances anD events
Casts, musicians, stage managers and countless others
regularly donate their time & talent for our legendary
Special Performances & Events! Some recent highlights…
Board of Trustees
PHOTOS | actorsfund.org/photos
VIDEOS | youtube.com/actorsfundorg
Grey’s Anatomy—The Songs Beneath the Show
Jerry Stiller, Anne
Meara, Harry Belafonte
and Trustee David
Steiner were honored
at our Annual Gala on
May 21 in New York.
The cast and creator of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy went from Seattle Grace to the stage
at UCLA’s Royce Hall on March 18, performing a live beneﬁt concert that raised
more than $100,000 for The Fund’s programs and services!
Featuring cast members Sara Ramirez, Chandra Wilson, Kevin McKidd, Justin
Chambers, Jessica Capshaw, James Pickens Jr., Sarah Drew, Kim Raver, Sandra Oh
and Eric Dane, the two-hour event featured 11 songs, including tracks from the
March 2011 musical episode “Song Beneath the Song.”
The Book of Mormon
The company raised more than
$200,000 at their Special Performance
at Los Angeles’ Pantages Theatre in
October. Trustee Annette Bening, with
stars Jared Gertner and Gavin Creel,
thanked the company before the show.
Rita Wilson at Geffen Playhouse
Rita performed an electrifying sold out beneﬁt
concert of selections from her AM/FM album
for Geffen’s Community Educational Program
and The Fund. Special thanks to SAG-AFTRA
Co-President and Trustee Ken Howard who
kicked off the show with Geffen Artistic Director
Randall Arney to speak about our fundraising
Brian Stokes Mitchell
Chairman of the Board
“The fans make it possible for us to be the lucky ones,” said the
executive producer Shonda Rhimes to a sold-out crowd, encouraging
concertgoers to support The Actors Fund. “I believe in the joy I get from
watching TV, film and theater, and a $25 donation to The Actors Fund
would be saying you believe in the arts, too.” Thanks to everyone at
Grey’s for their incredible support!
Bravo to the producers of these shows who
recently donated “Producer’s Picks,” so 100% of
your ticket purchase price supports our programs!
Kudos to these casts who donated
shows to raise much-needed funds
for our community!
Billy Elliot Los Angeles
Bring It On
End of the Rainbow
The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess
Nice Work if You Can Get It
Other Desert Cities
Peter and the Starcatcher
Spider Man Turn Off the Dark
A Streetcar Named Desire
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
The Book of Mormon—Los Angeles & NYC
The Lion King, Greenville, SC
One Man, Two Guvnors
Rock of Ages
Brian Stokes Mitchell
on October 31
at Alice Tully Hall.
A Gala Evening to beneﬁt
The Fund and Lincoln Center!
Visit actorsfund.org and join
us for these upcoming events!
Brian Stokes Mitchell Simply Broadway
at Lincoln Center
The Lion King 15th Anniversary
In New York, call 212.221.7300 ext. 133
In Los Angeles, call 323.933.9244 ext. 458
Charlotte gave through a Charitable Gift Annuity
“I’ve enjoyed great success in ﬁlm, television and on Broadway. But not
everyone in show biz is so blessed. I feel good knowing my support assures
there’s a place in our community where people can go for help when they
need it, and be treated with dignity and respect. It’s like a family.”
Charlotte gives back to the arts community by including The Fund in her estate plans as
part of the Edwin Forrest Society. Her career in show business includes Tony-nominated
turns in Pickwick (1966) and Morning, Noon and Night (1969), and her Emmy-nominated
portrayal of Edna Garrett in TV’s The Facts of Life.
Marc Grodman, M.D.
John A. Duncan, Jr.
Philip S. Birsh
Philip J. Smith
Joseph P. Benincasa
President and CEO
Jed W. Bernstein
James J. Claffey, Jr.
Janice Reals Ellig
David Henry Hwang
Kate Edelman Johnson
Stewart F. Lane
James L. Nederlander
Lee H. Perlman
Charlotte St. Martin
Edward D. Turen
Joseph H. Wender
Off icial Airline
To learn more, call Wally Munro, Director of Planned Giving, at
212.221.7300 ext. 128, email [email protected] or visit actorsfund.org.
Charlotte Rae with Western Region Director Keith McNutt
Become a Part of tHe legacy
Ofﬁcial NYC Hotel
Programs & Services
Our LA Clients Share Their Stories
Actor / Singer
“[Intake Social Worker] Annie Keating, [Career Counselor]
JoAnne Webb and others at The Fund in LA have been
terrific, and treat everyone with a warm respect as valuable
people—despite the fact they are in a difficult situation.”
“The doctor at Venice Family
Clinic...made it possible to be seen
by someone, and ensured I got the
medical attention I needed. I’m
grateful to The Actors Fund.”
A veteran of the industry, Bill has been a member of IATSE Local 706 Makeup Artists
and Hairdressers for over 25 years, as well as a SAG actor for 9 years and puppeteer for
more than 30.
Bill’s finances have taken a huge hit in the last few years because of the economic
downturn (see “Responding to Unique Economic Challenges in LA”), so he hasn’t had
steady work at which he’s received union rates since 2007. Because crew unions have
taken financial hits from all sides, many of his peers who work below the line are
becoming increasingly desperate, stressed, frustrated and angry because of ongoing
wage decreases—and the feeling that the situation is not going to improve.
“In the California film business, at least for crewmembers, we are back in the Old
West, and it is every man for himself,” says Bill. “People are desperate and will take any
work they can get.”
Bill found out about The Fund through his unions, and has been fortunate enough
to receive financial assistance twice since 2007. He’s also attended the Baby Boomer
Breakfasts organized by Joanne Webb.
“I think it helped alleviate that feeling of desperation that can grab a person,
especially a creative person, and that can cause them to shut off entirely. It was
like a support group.”
Bill believes it’s going to take a long time for the situation in LA to turn around,
but in the meantime, he’s grateful The Fund is there to help everyone.
“I think there can be no question about The Actors Fund’s vital role in what are sure
to be some very rough times yet to come,” says Bill. “During that time, a lot of people
will be hurting financially, and will likely need to transition to other professions, or temporarily get assistance while doing so. I know the program has been life-saving to me,
and when I get to the position that I can support The Fund, I will gladly do so.”
An actor/singer/professional clown, Stephanie was born into a family of Los Angeles
entertainers. Though she works regularly in her various fields, in 2009, unable
to meet the minimum requirements for her union health insurance, Stephanie
turned to The Fund when she realized she needed to be seen by a doctor. She had
received emails about The Fund’s partnership with the Performing Artists Clinic
at the Venice Family Clinic, which offers free medical services to low-income
musicians, dancers, actors and other performing artists, and decided to go.
After Clinic Director Dr. Myles Spar did some preliminary tests, he sent her to
a volunteer doctor for additional testing and it was discovered that she had a growth
that needed to be removed. He referred her to a teaching hospital where the
surgery was performed at no cost.
“Once you lose your insurance…you have to look around,” says Stephanie.
“This was a legitimate doctor who knew a legitimate doctor, and I felt OK about
it…I would never have gotten the surgery, I wouldn’t have known where to go—the
whole thing started with The Actors Fund. I don’t know if I’d even be around
anymore if I hadn’t.”
She’s also happy that, if she needs to, she can go back to the Venice Family
Clinic, as it’s available via the new Healthy Way LA program, which helps people
get seen by doctors—and also covers emergency care.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen to me,” she recalls, “but it ended up
being OK. I’m really grateful to The Actors Fund, I have to tell you. They took
care of all of it.”
Actor / Producer / Political Activist
“[If you wonder why The Actors
Fund is so important,] I would say
that when I look at the way the
entertainment industry feeds the
psyche of our society—because
our society loves entertainment—
The Actors Fund is servicing the people that create that.”
Working in LA since 1981, Susan started in theatre as a costume artist, but quickly
transitioned to the 80s world of music videos and commercials, which catapulted
her into designing the costumes for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. She ended up
primarily doing costume design and styling for commercials, and has been a member
of the Costume Designers Guild IATSE Local 892 for about 20 years. But when the
economy took a nosedive in 2008, she went from doing 3 or 4 commercials a month
to 3 or 4 a year.
In 2009 she reached out to The Actors Fund. “They were just an incredible
resource for just being around people who are having the same experiences.”
She participated in the Baby Boomers group, and worked closely with Career
Counselor Joanne Webb exploring other options for employment. That time with
AWP helped her feel free enough to reclassify herself and try some other things,
including working as a Costume Supervisor. She eventually landed a gig on a film that
enabled her to join the Motion Picture Costumers Union IATSE Local 705, which
allowed her to expand her ability to work. Today she’s a costumer on a TV series.
“The way I’ve adjusted is to reclassify and reinvent,” says Susan, “and The Actors
Fund is the place where someone like myself can come in and explore those possibilities. I think that’s really important for anybody to kind of look at what they’re doing in
their lives and reevaluate and so forth.”
As she’s witnessed the changes in the industry making it more difficult for her and
her peers to find work, Susan has realized just how important organizations like The
Actors Fund are.
“I’ve sat in groups with directors and producers and people from every single
aspect of the industry, above the line and below the line, and we’re all hurting, we’re
all affected by this,” says Susan. “I feel like those people contributing to The Actors
Fund are helping to support an industry that’s really vital to the mental health of our
“The Actors Fund is there for anyone
in the entertainment industry for
emergency help. When it comes to
special programs, such as the HIV/
AIDS Initiative, donors should know
their support really helps people get
back into life.”
In 2005, after a brush with death as a result of his illness, Dori was in dire need of
assistance, and through word of mouth he learned about The Fund. Initially, it was
given through emergency financial aid and ongoing counseling, but later, The Fund
really started to come through for Dori—especially when it came time to apply for
Social Security Disability.
Due to residual effects caused by the virus, Dori had difficulty writing so his
counselor at The Fund spent three days filling out the 100-page application as Dori
dictated his answers. And he credits the government’s rapid approval—less than three
months—to the help he received from that counselor.
“Even some friends...who are in the industry and know about [The Fund] aren’t
aware that it’s open to more than just actors,” says Dori. “They also don’t know how
specific The Fund gets when you have a catastrophic illness, and the work that it does.
So they’re all pretty amazed. And they actually have donated to The Fund because of
the help I’ve received—and continue to receive.”
As time went on and feeling somewhat stronger, Dori was ready to get back into
life. He decided he wanted to use his experience to help raise awareness, especially
as his case as a straight male infected by a woman is not perceived as a usual one.
With this in mind, The Fund encouraged him to take advantage of the Willard
Swire Scholarship, which provides financial support to qualified Actors Fund clients
making a transition to a new career. This opportunity “was a blessing,” and enabled
him to take a certificate program in International Studies with an emphasis on
Middle Eastern Politics at UCLA.
As a result, Dori found a position and worked for two years as Director of
Development/Media for the Safe Haven Project, a Global non-profit dedicated to
HIV-positive youth. He created a promotional film for the organization, and worked
at its site in Ghana.
“This is where The Actors Fund was really instrumental in helping me get
back into living,” he explains. “I decided I really needed to do something with my
experience, and dovetail that with my 30 years in the entertainment industry.
The Actors Fund helped me go back to school, and acquire the knowledge I needed.
I wanted to work in Africa, and I knew it was important to understand the Muslim
culture, because 70% of Africa is Muslim. And this really helped me get back into life
and living again…it’s a simple as that.”
His counselor at the time, Linda Zimmerman (who Dori credits with helping him
“navigate through the murky waters”), presented the idea of moving into the Palm
View. He became a resident in March. Now happily settled in, he’s currently using his
skills in a variety of other projects, including a documentary based on children with
HIV, and becoming a motivational speaker.
Singer / Songwriter
Grow, Give Back & Have Fun
“One thing about the entertainment
business: There’s the work but there’s
the downtime too. When things are
not on and you’re looking for that job,
the unemployment line is very real.”
R&B singer/songwriter Andre “Dre Boogie” Wilson was always keenly aware of the
pitfalls of the music business. His father and uncles were members of the renowned
funk unit The Gap Band, yet Andre witnessed his dad endure financial struggles in
spite of international fame.
Andre’s own talents landed him work with top artists such as Snoop Dogg and
Dr. Dre. Several major labels signed Andre aboard, but projects were shelved at the
last minute, leaving him adrift. He struggled with his own production company and
supplemented his income with manual labor.
“All of a sudden, I was in a position where I wasn’t seeing a return on anything,”
he recalls. “And I was chasing down royalties that I should have received while
residuals got smaller.”
Personal domestic strains added to the fiercely snowballing debt. “I was
double-behind,” he says. A friend at SAG-AFTRA guided Andre to MusiCares,
whose foundation provided financial assistance and subsequently referred him
to The Actors Fund, where Social Work Supervisor Robin LaBorwit arranged
for social work services and secured a grant to cover back utilities and rent.
Andre is now able to continue his musical endeavors. “As artists, we’re here to
give,” he says. “An art form gives and teaches. And it’s great to know that MusiCares
and The Actors Fund are there for you. It keeps the whole industry healthy.”
nearly $1 million to
Writers Guild of America, West’s (WGAW)
recent donation of more than $977,000
will support our emergency ﬁnancial
assistance program. The funds were held
by the WGAW’s Foreign Levies Program,
WGAW Executive Director David Young and
Fund Western Region Director Keith McNutt.
which has successfully distributed over
$121 million to writers and their heirs.
“We became aware of how important The Actors Fund is during the 2007–08 strike,”
said WGAW President Chris Keyser. “Without hesitation, The Fund stepped in and provided
critical services to those in the industry who desperately needed help. We are thrilled that
after years of litigation the court has cleared the way for us to make this contribution to
The Fund’s good work.”
Last year, The Fund distributed $2.5 million in emergency ﬁnancial assistance to nearly
1,600 people, and almost $1 million helped colleagues in Southern California. Read our
press release at actorsfund.org/foreignlevies.
Responding to Unique Economic Challenges in LA
People in entertainment regularly face the fallout from myriad economic challenges, and
LA is no different. The combination of the recession, the housing bubble, and jobs lost to
rival entertainment hubs due to tax breaks in other US locales have made it increasingly
tough for LA entertainment professionals to survive and thrive.
In fact, the Miliken Institute estimates that California’s ﬁlm industry lost around
36,000 jobs between 1990 and 2008 due to factors like cheaper shooting locations and
the relocation of post-production facilities abroad. And the Los Angeles Times reports that
just two of this fall’s 23 new mid-season one-hour dramas are slated to be shot in LA.
Faced with this quickly changing economic reality, where can our community turn?
“The Fund is uniquely positioned to help people facing the cumulative, devastating effects
of all the pressures on the Southern California economy,” says Western Region Director
“Our staff has done a yeoman’s job of
doubling the number of people they are
serving with emergency ﬁnancial aid,
counseling, ﬁnancial training and
connections to sideline work,” he adds.
“We’re also partnering with other agencies
and building support for these dramatic
increases in need.”
See p. 3 for more on how our services
in LA and nationally help meet the needs of
Actors Fund Work Program orientation on
our community with a unique understandMondays introduces clients to services like group
ing of the challenges of a life in the arts.
and individual career counseling, job training
and education, ﬁnancial assistance and more.
Alumni regularly gather to stay connected and continue to mentor kids currently
in the Looking Ahead program. (l-r): Michael Paredes, Amanda Petersen, Sharon
Don, Hannah Pitts, and Zachary Winard.
The life of a young actor can be a challenging one, posing issues that
compound the difficulties facing kids as they transition into adulthood.
To help support the youngest members of our entertainment family, we
partnered with Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA (now SAG-AFTRA) in
2003 to launch Looking Ahead, for professional young performers ages
9–18 in Southern California. The program helps children and their families
to balance work, school and life, make new friends and take breaks from
“the biz” to enjoy being a kid.
“This program nurtures two of the most important aspects of every
child’s life—social interaction and planning for the future,” says Advisory
Committee Chair Fred Savage. At 13, Fred was nominated for an Emmy
Award® for his work on The Wonder Years. After receiving his English
degree from Stanford University in 1999, he’s gone on to develop
a successful second career as a director and producer.
“Young performers are often removed from the social life that they
knew before they started working so finding new friends, particularly those
with similar interests and an equally unusual career, is critical to sustaining the fun and joy of being young,” he added.
“Additionally, the career of a young performer
is, by definition, a short one, and Looking Ahead
provides wonderful resources in planning what
comes next, whether it’s a career in entertainment
or another field entirely.”
Now an alumna of the program, actor and
aspiring producer Aimee Teegarden joined in the
first year. A performer since she was 10, her credits
include NBC’s Emmy Award-winning series Friday Night
Lights. Her Looking Ahead experience instilled a sense
of responsibility, while also creating for her a community
of peers outside her work in the business. “It was nice to
be able to have somewhere to go as a young actor,” says
Teegarden, “and to feel normal and feel like you fit in,
Aimee at a
and to have everyone get you without having to spend the
Bowling event in
whole time talking about work.”
2003, and today.
Looking Ahead helps kids see the bigger picture and
focus on becoming happy, well-rounded adults through five main areas:
“I think, when you’re working on a leadership council or any kind of
council for any type of organization or job or business, you’re making
stronger bonds with the people you’re with,” says Teegarden, who served
on a Looking Ahead kids council. “But at the same time, it was awesome
to have that opportunity to take charge and plan activities that we really
wanted to see and do, and see it from start to finish… That was just a really
cool great hands-on experience.”
Through partnerships, Looking Ahead also creates new learning
opportunities. For example, editors at Variety magazine regularly mentor
kids to improve their interviewing, writing, editing and design skills, and
publish the results in the program’s annual The Next Generation magazine,
and Junior Journos in Variety’s annual Youth Impact Report.
“The LA office is always so open,” says Teegarden. “Heather’s like,
‘If you ever have a problem or if you want to talk or get coffee, I’m always
here for you.’ It’s just so wonderful to know that resource is available.”
Rocking out in the Jack Oakie
Looking Ahead Center, a space
in our LA ofﬁce where kids can
study, relax, play games and
meet. Clockwise from upper left:
Social Worker Heather Vanian,
Director of Social Services
Tina Hookom, Administrative
Freeman, Youth Specialist
Magen Senen and Education
Counselor Laura Campbell.