Actors Fund changes name to reflect everyone it helps in the entertainment industry

While the Actors Foundation has been a lifeline for millions of people working in entertainment for more than 140 years, the organization doesn’t just help those on stage or in front of the camera. It also includes people behind the scenes, which is why it recently changed its name to the Entertainment Community Fund.

The foundation helped actor-singer Javier Muñoz, who said his life was turned upside down 20 years ago after he was diagnosed with HIV.

“I remember thinking about three days of blackout, physical and mental, and really just not, in such shock,” he told CBS News of his reaction to the diagnosis. “And then I just woke up and said, ‘You have to… you have to take care of yourself,’ right? “And what are you going to do?”

It was then that he turned to the Actors Fund for help.

“I didn’t just walk like a number, a statistic, you know,” Muñoz said. “It was about getting health insurance, what I could afford and how to make money: finding a doctor who could handle it, needing advice, who to talk to about the side effects of what it was like.” .

Munoz, who played Lin-Manuel Miranda’s iconic role of Alexander Hamilton on the Broadway show, said he is now forever grateful to the foundation.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Javier Munoz at a photo shoot
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 16: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Javier Munoz, who both play the title characters in the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton at the Richard Rogers Theater on June 16, 2016 in New York City.

Walter McBride/Getty Images

“Today I am living proof that what you do matters so much,” he said during his speech at Hamilton.

Lyricist and composer Amanda Green said she is also forever indebted to the nonprofit after helping her mother, actress Phylliss Newman, as she battled breast cancer in the 1980s.

“She went through it, and at the time it was something that was taboo to talk about,” Greene told CBS News. “And she also didn’t see the safety systems for women in the industry. And she founded the Women’s Health Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative. So it’s a really incredible, incredible hand of the Actors Fund.”

The organization’s new name now better reflects all the people it serves—everyone and everyone in theater, film, television, radio, music, dance, opera, and the circus.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand in show business what you think about show business, you think about famous actors,” said Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, who has been chairman of the foundation for 18 years. “And these famous actors are making billions of dollars per picture. And this is not reality. The reality is that most people work part-time, go from job to job to job. And many people are just a paycheck from poverty.”

Celebrities in New York - April 28, 2020
NEW YORK – APRIL 28: Broadway actor and singer Brian Stokes Mitchell sings from his window in honor of healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic on April 28, 2020 in New York City.

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

He told CBS News that the pandemic has highlighted the need for this lifeline.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have given away more than $26.8 million to nearly 18,000 people,” Mitchell said. “And one of the things I’ve learned is when you feel terrible, when you feel bad, help someone else. It will get you out of it.”


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