*Yolonda Ross, star of the ground-breaking Showtime series The Chi, today announced with Rhonda Feinberg, a special donation of $100,000, funded by The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation, to three grassroots organizations serving women of color who are living with breast cancer.
Based on personal life experiences and in tandem with her performance as “Jada” on The Chi (a single black mother diagnosed with breast cancer), Ross was inspired to get involved in Chicago’s WOC breast cancer survivor community and collaborate with three remarkable Chicago organizations that support women’s health.
On the show, Ross famously shaved her long, beautiful hair on camera, as her character embarks on her breast cancer journey.
Ross conducted extensive research to understand her character’s experience and cancer journey.
As a result, she got involved in the WOC breast cancer survivor community with an introduction to Dr. Melissa Simon, vice-chair of research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University, who connected Yolonda to three Chicago not-for-profit organizations that she chose for the gift – The Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET), Equal Hope, and the Tatisa C. Joiner Foundation.
Rhonda Feinberg, a breast cancer survivor and leading healthcare advocate, was so inspired and moved by Ross’s performance as “Jada” and her work in the community, specifically the focus on healthcare and treatment disparities that WOC experience, that she asked Yolonda how she could help.
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They are providing urgently needed support to transform their immediate experience, particularly individuals lacking the very basic resources needed as they are forced to face a life and death situation with breast cancer.”
“As a breast cancer survivor, I understand first-hand the challenges that are required to undergo the journey through treatment,” said Feinberg.
“Yolonda’s performance on The Chi tells the story powerfully and movingly, but also shows how women of color very often have enormous obstacles accessing vital treatment. I’m so proud to team with Yolonda not only to shine a light on the wonderful organizations helping with this cause, but also to support them with critical funding for the tremendous work they do.”
In celebration of the women in the WOC breast cancer survivor community, the not-for-profit organizations, and the $100,000 donation, an event will be held at Hilton | Asmus Contemporary, 3622 S Morgan St., on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. The event will unveil five large-scale photographs of breast cancer survivors titled Beauty is Me, photographed by Ross herself. In addition, Feinberg and Ross will officially award the $100,000 that will be distributed between the three organizations, and will discuss how the gift came to be.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit – https://beautyisme.eventbrite.com
About Yolonda Ross
Yolonda Ross (actress/writer/director/producer) is a two-time Film Independent Spirit Award nominee and Gotham Award winner for her feature film debut as a leading actress in HBO’s Stranger Inside and John Sayles’s Go For Sisters. Ross, a native of Omaha, Nebraska is recognized from her wide range of work including: Angela Bassett’s Whitney, and Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher Story.
In television, she’s worked on Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet’s, The Unit. The two teamed up again on HBO’s Phil Spector. Ross has recurred as “Claudia” on How to Get Away With Murder, portrayed the memorable Ms. Green in the Baz Luhrmann/ Netflix series, The Get Down, and portrayed a documentary filmmaker in HBO’s Treme which inspired her to step behind the camera for her directorial debut, Breaking Night, which aired on VH1 Classics.
Ross is also a member of New York’s famed Labyrinth Theater Company. She is featured in the PBS American Masters episode How it Feels to Be Free, which spotlights black female trailblazers. Yolonda will be making her feature film directorial debut with her romantic drama, Scenes from Our Marriage, which was chosen for Film Independent’s, Fast Track & Directors’ Lab and Cannes Marche’ du Film Producers Workshop.
She is currently preparing to reprise her role as series regular Jada Washington in the critically acclaimed Lena Waithe Showtime drama The Chi, which is going into its’ fifth season.
About The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation
The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation is a private family foundation committed to effective community and cultural investments through its philanthropy. As a social impact investor, the Feinberg Foundation is dedicated to supporting community-based organizations that improve the lives of the economically underserved population of Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Foundation serves the needs of abused or neglected youth, and supports children in at-risk or economically disadvantaged households. They focus on investment, rather than “charity,” to support programs in the areas of early childhood development, literacy enrichment, homelessness, and hunger, access to health care, medical research, Jewish communal causes and the Chicago and Los Angeles arts communities.
The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation strives to promote positive changes in the lives of people, who in turn can build and enhance the communities in which they live.
They encourage and support collaboration among our donation recipients to maximize resources in sustaining programs and achieving outcomes. The Foundation seeks to learn from its investments, share what it has learned and inspire others in the public and private sectors to make similar and supporting commitments.
About The Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET)
Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET) was founded to “lift health for all.” A leading grass roots, public health initiative in Chicago, CHET’s single focus is to confront health disparities which ravage marginalized populations throughout the city. CHET fights to correct these inequities through community engagement, education programs, workforce development and innovative research. The Center is part of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The passionate and dedicated Director of CHET is Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH. Nationally recognized, Dr. Simon is forthright about leading Feinberg’s effort to have “boots on the ground” to battle health disparities, particularly for medically underserved women across the lifespan. She is intense about her desire to grow CHET and advance its effective programming.
In Dr. Simon’s words, “We find ways to improve health and health care delivery so that all types of people—from all types of backgrounds—have the opportunity to achieve their best possible health.”
About Equal Hope
Equal Hope was started in 2008 after data emerged that revealed Black Women in Chicago diagnosed with breast cancer were 62% more likely to die from the disease than comparable White Women. At the time, Chicago was one of the worst cities in the country when it came to racial health disparities related to breast cancer.
At the same time, New York City had low breast cancer mortality disparities suggesting that Chicago’s disparity was driven by structural racism rather than biology. Startled by this inequity, the community came together and launched the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, which was renamed to Equal Hope in 2019.
Equal Hope developed a unique model to analyze Chicago’s breast health system and how it was failing Black women. With that information, we developed an evidence-based, multipronged approach to address this disparity. Our approach involved improving the quality of breast care, advocacy for system change and navigation to help uninsured and underinsured women overcome the systemic barriers to better health outcomes.
In 2017, Equal Hope published a paper showing that the disparity in survivorship had been reduced from 62% to 39%. Chicago is now #1 in the country in lowering the breast cancer death rate for Black women.
Based on its success with breast cancer, Equal Hope has expanded to address other women’s health inequities. Equal Hope’s mission is to save women’s lives by eliminating health disparities in Illinois, originally through the lens of breast cancer and now expanding to cervical cancer and helping those without a regular source of primary care get one.
We address women’s health holistically with the goal of eliminating inequities in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship for all women.
About Tatisa C. Joiner Foundation
The Tatisa C. Joiner Foundation is an organization that empowers, inspires and encourages survivors to celebrate life after cancer.
From the traumatic loss that a woman experiences from losing a breast, to the delicate balancing of career and family while undergoing treatment, to the myriad of medical choices women must make immediately, to the personal relationships that inevitably come to an end, the Tatisa C. Joiner Foundation addresses and examines all these issues while assisting survivors in their journey to wellness.
TCJF fills the gap by becoming a bridge between pre-breast cancer life and life as a breast cancer survivor.
This is no marathon of tears! Women are heroines and they are celebrating their victories each day from all walks of life. They exemplify that breast cancer has no boundaries. TCJF brings awareness to the urgency of early detection, particularly for women of color.
Tatisa C. Joiner was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 at the young age of 36. She is a devoted wife of 25 years; a loving mother of a 19-year-old son; a community leader & activist.
Source: Ramsey Hoey, Carol Fox and Associates | [email protected]