(For your inspiration, the IWGN “Spotlight” feature highlights other entrepreneurs and achievers who are also living with chronic illness and making their mark on the world! Meet these Inspiring Women on our blog or in our newsletter.)
In celebration of Black History Month (in the U.S. and Canada), we are shining the Inspiring Woman spotlight on to celebrities of African–American descent. These women have continued living their dreams in spite of their health issues.
Part 3 Halle Berry, Sherri Shepherd, Patti LaBelle
These Inspiring Women celebrities are living with Diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. (Glucose comes from the foods we eat.) Having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems such as heart disease, stroke and damage to your eyes, kidneys and nerves.
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 1989 after collapsing on the set of a television show and lying in a diabetic coma for a week. She is a fashion model, Revlon spokesman model, producer, activist and one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. In 2002, she became the first (and currently only) winner of African-American descent to receive an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Halle received the NAACP Image Award for Best Actress for her role in the film, Frankie & Alice, which she also produced and won Outstanding Independent Picture of the year in 2011. She is also the recipient of numerous other awards including, but not limited to, the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Primetime Emmy Award and People’s Choice Award. Halle manages her illness with exercise and a healthy diet. She says “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Know when to laugh at yourself, and find a way to laugh at obstacles that inevitably present themselves.”
Comedienne, actress, co-host of TV talk show, The View, host of the game show, Newlywed Game, entrepreneur and author, Sherri Shepherd was formally diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. Sherri and her co-hosts of The View made history when they won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 2009. In addition, they were named among the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time magazine, while Forbes ranked them among the top 30 of the Most Influential Women in Media. Sherri says “I looked at diabetes as my friend instead of looking at it like the enemy.” Her book, Plan D, offers a process for healthy eating and living with the disease. She is mother to a son with special needs and partners with the YAI National Institute to raise awareness for children and adults with disabilities.
With more than 50 years in the music industry, multi Grammy-Award winning singer, Patti LaBelle is one of the original divas of the music world. She has sold over 50 million records worldwide and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Apollo Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. She is also the recipient of the World Music Awards’ prestigious Legend Award, as well as a countless number of other awards too many to list here! Her former singing group, LaBelle, was the first group to play at the Metropolitan Opera House, and the first black vocal group to land the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Patti found out she had diabetes after passing out onstage during a performance. With a family history of diabetes, she cried when the doctor told her she had the illness. Determined to get her diabetes under control, she completely revamped the way she cooked and gave herself an attitude adjustment. At nearly 70 years old, this self-proclaimed “divabetic” keeps her disease in check to by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating all the right foods, a positive attitude and exercising. Patti finds the best exercise for keeping her in shape is dancing onstage. “I love to shake it, honey!” she says! In addition to her success as a singer, Patti enjoys success as an actress and author. She has starred in both stage and screen productions. She has written several books, among them diabetic cookbooks. Patti says, “You preach a better sermon with your life than you do with your lips.”