How Celebrities are Changing the Conversation and Shining a Spotlight on Real-World Tough Subjects
These multifaceted actresses are sitting down together at #BlogHer20 Health to shine a light on the importance of including weightier health storylines on our screens.
Meet the women who are taking diverse health narratives to our screens in order to bring tough, relatable, and inspiring subjects into the living rooms of their viewers. Kelly McCreary of Grey’s Anatomy, Jade Pettyjohn of Little Fires Everywhere, Lauren Ash of Superstore, Ryan Michelle Bathe of First Wives Club, and Rachel Matthews of Frozen 2 are taking a break from the spotlight to discuss the inclusion of difficult health subjects in the shows and movies that they appear on.
This panel is comprised of a group of women who are not only actresses, but podcast runners, guitar players, dedicated volunteers, dog owners and writers. They are real people, with real-world wellness experiences. They understand the stigma surrounding open discussions of typically taboo topics – such as death, disabilities, or mental and physical health issues – and are actively working both within their industries, and in their personal lives, to normalize those conversations. We’ll hear from Kelly McCreary, Jade Pettyjohn, Rachel Matthews, Ryan Michelle Bathe, and Lauren Ash on the ever-changing relationship between the TV + Film industry and its influence on how we as a society discuss health concerns.
We are so looking forward to a candid, inspiring conversation on the significance of diverse and truthful representations of mental and physical illnesses on our screens, and how those representations (when done well) can serve to validate those who struggle with those challenges.
What better way to wrap up our #BlogHer20 Health programming than with insight from passionate health advocates in LA’s biggest industry? Moderated by Bonnie Fuller of HollywoodLife, we can’t wait to hear what these powerhouses have to share!
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Kelly McCreary is a natural talent with undeniable energy, and continues to evolve her body of work with an array of emotionally searing roles across television, film, and theater.
McCreary stars as ‘Dr. Maggie Pierce’ in the hit ABC medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy. Currently in its 16th season, the series is the longest-running primetime medical drama in history. She also serves as the host for the third season of the female-centric podcast, How It Is, brought to you by Reese Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine.
In addition, she recently produced and starred in two short dramas, A Cohort Of Guests and The Middlegame. This follows her starring role in Anton Corbijn’s indie drama LIFE opposite Robert Pattinson and Dan DeHaan.
Not only is McCreary a star on screen, she has owned the stage on and off Broadway in a number of theatrical productions, including her professional acting debut in the original Broadway musical, Passing Strange. This successful run was followed by a plethora of notable stage credits, including: Dominique Morisseau’s undaunted and poetically shimmering play Skeleton Crew at Geffen Playhouse; Bay Street Theater’s production of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel; Dominique Morisseau’s Follow Me to Nellie’s at Kean Stage; the Off-Broadway run of Perfect Harmony on Theatre Row; and Williamstown Theatre Festival’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Euridyce.
Other notable television appearances include: Shonda Rhimes’s popular ABC drama Scandal; ABC’s long- running drama Castle; the CW medical drama Emily Owens M.D.; USA Network’s popular drama White Collar; and AMC’s Rubicon. Additional film credits include: Brian Klugman’s dramedy BABY, BABY, BABY opposite Adrianne Palicki; Paul Weitz’s drama Being Flynn opposite Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano; and Chioke Nassor’s mystery drama How To Follow Strangers.
McCreary is an alumnus of Barnard College, and trained at the Chautauqua Conservatory Theater Company, British American Drama Academy in London, and The Actors Center in New York. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
Jade Pettyjohn is set to star in the upcoming Hulu limited series, Little Fires Everywhere, based on the best-selling novel from Celeste Ng. She will portray the popular, smart, bossy and driven Lexie Richardson, the oldest daughter of Reese Witherspoon’s character. The highly anticipated series will premiere on March 18, 2020. 2019 was a breakout year for Pettyjohn, who played opposite Nicole Kidman in Annapurna’s gritty crime thriller Destroyer, and alongside Laura Dern and Jack O’Connell in Trial by Fire. Pettyjohn also appeared in HBO’s Deadwood film as the only new cast member.
Originally from Los Angeles, Pettyjohn began acting with a major role on CBS’ The Mentalist. While shooting the series, she landed a recurring role on Showtime’s United States of Tara. Pettyjohn has also worked on CBS’ Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and Pure Genius, TNT’s The Last Ship and NBC’s Revolution and Grimm. She is best known for her starring role as “Summer,” the over-achiever with perfect attendance and a blind ambition for academics on the Emmy-nominated television series School of Rock.
Pettyjohn also completed production on the upcoming political thriller Seberg, alongside Vince Vaughn, Zazie Beetz, Kristen Stewart and Anthony Mackie. Additional film credits include An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars, Dakota’s Summer, and Prodigal. Pettyjohn also starred in the independent feature film Girl Flu with Katee Sackhoff and Jeremy Sisto, which premiered in 2016 at the LA Film Festival.
Outside of acting, Pettyjohn graduated as Valedictorian of her high school class and donates time to perform on stage for various fundraisers. She is passionate about using social media for good and is interested in raising awareness on human trafficking, safeguarding yourself online, environmental issues and anti-drug/healthy living tips. She enjoys playing guitar, writing songs and listening to music.
Rachel Matthews is a natural talent with a striking presence, Rachel Matthews is quickly establishing herself as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after young actresses with notable roles in both film and television.
Matthews most recently lent her voice to the original character ‘Honeymaren’ in FROZEN 2, which was recently named the highest grossing animated film of all time. Her character is described as a true free spirit member of the Northuldra who wants nothing more than to bring peace to the Enchanted Forest.
This success follows her starring role in the Hulu limited series Looking For Alaska, which is based on John Green’s #1 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. In addition, she also appeared in The CW hit series Batwoman opposite Ruby Rose as jewel thief ‘Magpie’, which is a fan favorite villain in the Batwoman canon.
Matthews recently wrapped production on the independent film Tankhouse opposite Richard Kind, and is currently in post-production on the independent drama Ms. White Light directed by Paul Shoulberg.
Matthews was last seen in Blumhouse’s HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U and HAPPY DEATH DAY, where her performance was praised by critics including the New York Times who stated: “But it’s the newcomer Rachel Matthews as Danielle, the snippy sorority president, who’s the natural comedian. Encased in preppy separates and armed with withering put-downs, Danielle is every bit as deadly as any campus killer.”
She currently resides in Los Angeles with her dog Stella.
RYAN MICHELLE BATHE
Ryan Michelle Bathe stars in the BET+ dramedy The First Wives Club, based on the classic 1996 film of the same name. Bathe portrays Ari, a confident, type-A attorney with impeccable style who is reunited with her best friends after a crisis. The series has been renewed for a second season. Bathe recently wrapped production on the upcoming feature film Sylvie’s Love from director Eugene Ashe. The film will premiere at Sundance.
Bathe’s diverse television credits include roles in ABC’s The Rookie, Fox’s Empire, NBC’s This Is Us, Lifetime’s Army Wives and TV Land’s Retired at 35. She has also appeared in Good Fences, ER, Dr. Ken, Medium, Boston Legal, Trauma, Half & Half, How I Met Your Mother, The Education of Max Bickford and Harry’s Law. In film, Bathe co-starred in Lionsgate’s One For The Money, as well as the independent features All About Us, Brother To Brother and Leaving Barstow, for which she received critical acclaim on the festival circuit.
In addition to her on screen appearances, Bathe has performed on stage in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and “Much to do About Nothing” at the Old Guthrie Theatre and Old Globe Theatre. She also starred in the musical “The Hot Mikado” at the Ford Theater in Washington, DC.
Bathe is a firm believer in what Shirley Chisholm says, “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an organization whose members are dedicated sisterhood, scholarship and service. Combining her passion for healthy eating and philanthropy, Bathe is also a passionate member of Alliance of Moms, a membership-based program that supports pregnant and parenting teens in foster care in the Los Angeles county.
Bathe was born in St. Louis and raised in Stamford, CT. She graduated from Stanford University and earned her MFA in Acting from New York University. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Lauren Ash stars as ‘Dina’ in the hit NBC comedy Superstore and as ‘Scorpia’, in the Netflix original animated series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. She recently launched a podcast titled, “Giving It Up For Less”, where she has friends and colleagues join her to overshare real stories about their lives that they probably shouldn’t tell. Ash previously co-starred with Rebel Wilson in ABC’s Super Fun Night, which won the People’s Choice Award for Best New Comedy Series and Comedy Central’s Another Period. On the film side, Ash was in the critically acclaimed and Academy-Award nominated film The Disaster Artist, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, and Lars And The Real Girl. Hailing from Toronto, Ash is an alumnus of the Second City Toronto and Chicago main stages. She was nominated for an ACTRA Award (Canada’s SAG Awards) for her performance in the film Dirty Singles and was the winner of a Canadian Screen Award (Canada’s Emmys) for a guest-starring role on the CTV sitcom Spun Out.
Bonnie Fuller (Moderator) is President & Editor-in-Chief of HollywoodLife.com and a PMC Senior Advisor. Bonnie launched HollywoodLife in 2009 for young women and the brand now has 25 million monthly uniques and 10 million social media followers, including a robust YouTube channel. She is a member of the University of Toronto Alumni Group. Bonnie married architect Michael Fuller in 1983, and the couple has four children together. The Fullers currently reside in Westchester, New York.