Friday, May 4, 2012

Brad Pitt, Tyler Perry and Advocacy for Patients

Many of you already know my Brad Pitt story.  But today it took a new and incredibly amazing turn.

About ten years ago, when I first found, I met a wonderful woman named Barbara.  She told me about a young woman named Ellen who had Crohn's disease and gastroparesis.  She was terribly sick, vomiting 30 times a day, not keeping anything down.  We thought she might die.  Barbara -- who has an extraordinary heart -- said we should do something for Ellen's 26th birthday.  All Ellen wanted was to meet Brad Pitt.  "Jennifer, can you try?" she asked?  Sure -- I'm not beyond begging movie stars when it comes to life and death.  So I wrote a letter and then I heard from Ozzie, Brad Pitt's assistant.  Ellen and I spoke to Ozzie for months; of course, he had to make sure we were legit, and he really loved Ellen.  After a time, Ellen and I sort of figured that she'd never hear from Mr. Pitt, but we were so happy to have met Ozzie that it was all good.  Then, one afternoon, Ellen was napping and the phone rang.  "Hi, Ellen?  This is Brad."  They talked for two hours.  And then Ellen ate scrambled eggs and took a walk around the block.  Amazing what the heart can do.

When Ellen got well enough -- which she did -- Ozzie flew her out to LA, put her in a hotel on Rodeo Drive, Mr. Pitt and Ms. Aniston took her to The Ivy, Ozzie took her to a taping of Jay Leno's Tonight Show -- and best of all, Ellen got to hang out in Jennifer Aniston's dressing room during a taping of Friends.  Ozzie had made sure that George Clooney would just sort of drop by.  Ellen was over the moon.

Ellen passed away on December 19, 2011.  She had 10 years that she might not have had without the lift that Ozzie, Mr. Pitt and Ms. Aniston gave her.  At least, that's what I believe.

Anyway, Ozzie went on to be Tyler Perry's assistant -- and climbed the ladder to become President of Tyler Perry Studios.  Go Ozzie!

I have a miraculous client and friend, Crystal Emery.  She has a rare disease that leaves her wheelchair bound, without much use of her arms and legs.  But Crystal runs a nonprofit called URU The Right to Be.  She makes documentary films focusing on racial and ethnic disparities in health care.  How on earth she does this, I do not know.  When she travels, she has to have a hospital bed delivered to her hotel room -- but that doesn't stop her -- she goes!  I'm a complete wimp next to Crystal.

Crystal's dream is to meet Tyler Perry.  Can you guess where this is going now?

I once told Crystal about Ozzie.  In fact, when she asked me to, I forwarded him a script she was working on.  Nothing happened, and that's okay -- Ozzie already did enough to make me love him forever.

But a couple of months ago, Crystal saw a commercial for a play Tyler Perry is touring in called Tyler Perry's Madea Gets a Job.  He was coming to Hartford on May 5.  "Jennifer, could you please ask Ozzie if I can meet Tyler Perry?"  Sure -- why not?

Tomorrow night, Crystal, her husband, her friend and I are going to see Tyler Perry's play, courtesy of Ozzie.  And after the play, we are going backstage where Crystal's dream of meeting Tyler Perry will come true.

And so it goes, good comes from good, as another amazing friend Terry Schaefer taught me years ago.  I hope Ellen is up there smiling, knowing that Ozzie is about to do for Crystal what he did for her years ago.  This time, I actually get to be there and see it happen.  I can't wait.

I am so privileged to have this work -- which leads me to people like Barbara, Ellen, Ozzie, Terry, Brad Pitt, Tyler Perry -- and best of all always, Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and his wife, Ashley O'Connor.  I'm not big on religion, but I think this is what people mean when they say they are blessed.  Jennifer


  1. Thanks J. This is why we love you so much. ~Andy

  2. Keep up the good work Jennifer, karma can do great things, good for those who do good. Ellen Payne's cousin.

  3. Jean Mills AranhaMay 5, 2012 at 5:59 AM

    Thanks, Jennifer. We are blessed to have you doing this amazing things for people.

  4. I loved Ellen and I now love you. Cathy Cole, Ellen's dance teacher and friend

  5. Ellen just has to be smiling at all of this. You just keep lifting people up even though you often feel pretty lousy many days. Please give Ozzie hugs from us. When Ozzie went with Tyler, he sent Ellen a bunch of Tyler's DVDs. Lots of wonderful people in this old world!! You're on the list! Hugs!!! Mom Ruth