Jillian Rose Reed: Why Awkward’s Sassy “Tamara” Is Sweet On Curing Diabetes

Jillian Rose Reed stars on MTV’s offbeat comedy Awkward (which has been picked up for a second season) as the sassy and fun-loving best friend Tamara. Now 19, Jillian was only 9 years old when her older brother developed diabetes. He was away at college, which she notes made it especially frightening for him and the entire family. There was a lot of worry and fear, she told me, until he got diagnosed and got his diabetes under control. Even after that, life didn’t go on an even keel. He nearly slipped into a diabetic coma before seeking medical help once when he was sick, because he didn’t understand the complexities and potential complications of this medical condition.

There are an estimated 25.8 million people in the United States who have diabetes — 7 million of whom are undiagnosed. Complications include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy, and amputation. Type 1 diabetes, the type Jillian’s brother has, where the body does not produce insulin, is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and makes up only 5 percent of all diabetes cases.

Jillian’s advice to others in similar situations is to just be there for your sibling. “It’s such a hard thing,” she said. It’s traumatic and involves an entire lifetime change of diet and routine when you’re insulin-dependent, she explained.

That’s why Jillian is taking action to help raise money to prevent and treat diabetes. She’s joined ranks with the American Diabetes Association for Los Angeles and will be speaking at the Los Angeles Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes on Sunday, October 2, 2011. The fundraiser is a 3-mile walk through movie and television history, complete with a yellow brick road and the opportunity to meet characters, such as Luke Skywalker.

Watch for Jillian’s tweets (@JillianRoseReed) about it and how you can help raise funds to prevent and cure diabetes.

Meanwhile, Jillian is trying to reduce her chances of developing diabetes by exercising and eating healthy, which is especially hard for a teenager. She admits she’s far from perfect, but she’s trying.

And for all you young actors who dream of making it in Hollywood, I asked Jillian what she thinks was the key to her success. She told me that it’s her family (she lives at home). They believe in her, and the fact that they think she can succeed made her want to keep going when she faced rejection. She told me about a time when someone in the business told her that she’s good at acting but not that good. No matter who you are, you’re always going to get that, she pointed out. And so her advice to young actors is, “definitely don’t give up.”

Mark Salling: Glee’s Noah “Puck” Puckerman on His New Puppy, New “Child Hunger Ends Here” Campaign, and New Season

Mark SallingMark Salling, who’s best known for his mean jock character Noah “Puck” Puckerman on Glee, has every reason to be excited. He just got a new puppy, an Australian cattle dog (which he named Noah), and there’s a lot in store for his character on Glee this season. He told me that he’s going to be confronted with some very adult issues, which may include having to deal with his out-of-wedlock daughter, Beth, again (who’s the result of a one-night stand with fellow Glee Club member Quinn Fabray, who was dating his best friend, Finn Hudson, at the time).

But things haven’t always gone so well for Mark. Before hitting it big, Mark spent 7 years pursuing a professional music career in LA. He was just about to throw in the towel and move back to his native Texas when he decided to make one last-ditch effort — sending out resumes and photos to 75 managers and agents. “I was at the very end,” he told me. He received only one response. However, that manager led him to an agent who got him an audition, which turned into five “agonizing auditions” for a pilot show that was billed as a high school musical for primetime TV. As it turns out, Glee is about the will and fortitude of the underdog, and Mark’s perseverance paid off with a role that changed the course of his life.

Now Mark is trying to change the course of the lives of other underdogs: hungry children. He’s a spokesperson for ConAgra Food’s Child Hunger Ends Here campaign. He cites his home state of Texas as second only to Arkansas in the number of children who go hungry, a number nearing 17 million nationwide. The solution is easy, he said. Get your school involved. Each ConAgra Foods UPC code saved buys one meal for a child.

That’s something really worth singing about.

Leeza Gibbons on Remembering Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Anyone who’s had a child sick with the flu knows how stressful it can be to take care of him or her. Now imagine what it’s like to become a caretaker to a chronically sick child, parent, or other family member.

Some 13 years ago, Leeza Gibbons, former co-host of Entertainment Tonight, fell into the role of caregiver, along with her siblings, for her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder characterized by dementia, which is a loss of memory and cognitive (thinking) skills. There are also personality changes in the later stages of the disease where the person with Alzheimer’s may lash out at the caretaker, show fear, and have other distinct changes in personality and behavior. Leeza told me how her mother would get up n the middle of the night and wander and fall.

Leeza went home to South Carolina when her mother first suspected she had the early stages of Alzheimer’s to decode her mother’s symptoms and get a diagnosis. It was a tsunami of shock, Leeza told me. She sees now that she coped with such a life-changing diagnosis of a loved one by immersing herself into trying to find answers via research to fix her mother’s disease. But Leeza developed depression and struggled with sleeplessness. She described it like this: “I was just wound up as tight as I could be [from anxiety].” And her anxiety affected everything in her life. Meanwhile, she says, her mother just needed her.

Over the years, Leeza witnessed her mother progressively degenerating. Ironically, Leeza, like other long-term caregivers, was on a somewhat parallel path. “Caregiver fatigue” placed her at increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and a long list of other medical conditions and already she suffered as a consequence of her role as caregiver from depression, another risk for caregivers.

But Leeza’s mother helped ease some of the burden by accepting the diagnosis, asking for what she needed, and telling Leeza what she wanted, which helped in drawing some of her mother’s friends back. People don’t understand dementia and some withdraw, Leeza said. (That’s true of many long-term medical conditions and diseases.) The earlier you get real with the diagnosis, the sooner you can line up your team, Leeza said. Leeza told me that the team won’t include everyone, because everyone won’t have what it takes to get on their battle gear.

While being a caregiver can take its toll, having a caregiver — advocacy and the demonstration of love — is so important to the person with the medical condition or disease that I wrote about the devastating effects of not having one in Mind Games.

ESPN’s Erin Andrews Helping Small Charity Score Big With Fan Support

After an exciting game between Notre Dame and Michigan, ESPN Sportscaster Erin Andrews got on a plane and headed to New York City where she spent the tenth anniversary of 9-11. She’s not afraid of much, but this was different, and she admits it was frightening to go to New York on September 11th. It was an emotional and nerve-wracking day, she said. Even watching the commercials on TV made her cry.

But the timing couldn’t have been better, because Andrews is working with StubHub.com to raise money for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). This program helps children (and others) who have lost a loved one while they were serving in the military. The waitlist, she found, was 500 people long. Andrews wanted to do what she could to shorten it. What better way than a Girls Night Out, where proceeds from the purchase of tickets to selected sports games would go to TAPS.

Andrews, who’s from the South, said that Southern women know more than many men do about sports. She’s a big college football fan.

Watch the Skypecast of my entire interview with Erin Andrews to find out why her friends call her Mother Theresa, how she got interested in sports when she was just 5 years old, and more about what she’s doing.

“Trapper John” Reveals How He Became a Business Star

Wayne Rogers, best known for his role as Trapper John on the now classic TV series M*A*S*H, is a man with many hats. He’s weaved in and out of acting roles to take such leads as a founding shareholder of six banks, real estate developer, and co-owner of a vineyard, restaurant, convenience store chain, and, not surprisingly, a film distribution company, among other things. He even owns a minority interest in a Major League baseball team, the Oakland A’s. And, it appears, he hasn’t struck out. In fact, he’s helped turn around distressed businesses, including Kleinfeld, the largest bridal retailer in the nation and star of the TLC smash hit, Say Yes to the Dress. What’s his secret? Rogers says that his successes — acting and business — are all thread together by the creative process.

In his book, Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success, Rogers talks about the things that are common to both the arts and entrepreneurship. I spoke to him while he was writing the book.

“[I]t’s not that different,” he says of the two. “There is a creative process that goes on.” Rogers said that when he creates a character, he wants to know everything he can about him — from what style of clothes he wears to how he behaves. And so he must figure that out as actors do. In business, where he had no experience and therefore no preconceived ideas, he takes the same approach of immersing himself in it to learn everything about it.

Rogers has also applied his creative process to fundraising for the Emerald Coast Child Advocacy Center in Niceville, Florida. With so many fledgling, grassroots charities out there, I thought it would be interesting to learn how Rogers gets people to give generously to benefit those in need.

Rogers likes local charities. He thinks that they tend to be more focused. If you’re personally involved in a local charity, “you have a better chance of seeing the results of your charitable work,” he said. Even with a local chapter of a national organization you can see that something is actually happening with your money.

Contrary to the heart-tugging approach many national charities use to get the dollars pouring in, Rogers says donors ante up the big bucks when they’re having fun and when friendly competition is involved.

Once, he auctioned off an autographed jersey of a Heisman trophy winner who played for Florida State’s rival, the University of Alabama, Roger’s home state. Given the location, not too far from Florida State, there was plenty of conversation about that sweaty shirt, and that raised a lot of money.

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The Other Side of the Window by S.Z. Berg


Rated 5 stars at both Goodreads.com and Amazon!

What would you do if you knew the truth, but no one would believe you?

"[Y]ou will be hooked until the last page." William D. Curnutt "Pastor Dan" (Wichita, KS, United States)

"Savannah [will become] that scared, struggling, terrified part of you ... it won't much feel like reading, but like living it yourself, and intensely." L.E.Olteano - Butterfly-o-meter Books

"[H]er story will stay with you and make you look at those around you with a little more compassion and understanding, and maybe even a little more paranoia!" Amanda Alberson

"[T]he story will haunt you long after! " J. Sprague

William Edwards and the Wizardly Glasses


William Edwards was not good at anything, or so he was told. When he doesn’t bring home a soccer trophy (when they’re given out just for showing up), his banker parents (who bought him off the Internet) think he’s an investment that’s just not paying off. Oh, they are a frightful pair, indeed, even throwing mustard parties, with plenty of gluten, when William is allergic to mustard — and has celiac, so he can’t eat wheat!

But everything changes for William when a knowing old lady gives him a pair of big green glasses with rose-colored lenses. His classmates tease him, because he looks like a frog. But they turn out to be wizardly glasses, and William is transported to Winkleberry, a school for children with wizzies (magical powers). There he meets a smart young girl, Bora, and another boy, Zandall, who help William learn about his wizzies and accidentally lead him to a time travel machine. But before William can travel back in time to save his real parents, who are being held captive in 1929 by a zygot (a monster that inhabits the homes of mean people), William must protect the gene pool in his fake parents’ back yard from mutation!