Entertainment Community Fund’s Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative

Volume 123, No. 9October, 2023

Entertainment Community Fund

Bebe Neuwirth, Marin Mazzie, Phyllis Newman and Donna Murphy at the Fund’s “Nothing Like A Dame” benefit concert, October 24, 2016. Photo credit: Jay Brady

The Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors’ Fund) is a national human services organization that helps address the specific needs of musicians and other entertainment professionals—with a unique understanding of the challenges involved with a life in the arts and the knowledge of what it takes to thrive in an often-unpredictable industry.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Entertainment Community Fund shines a spotlight on the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative.

Founded in 1996 by Fund trustee and cancer survivor Phyllis Newman, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative is a safe place for women to turn to for support when faced with a serious medical diagnosis.

A Tony Award-winning actress whose career included work in theater, television and film, Ms. Newman became an advocate for women’s health after being diagnosed with breast cancer and bravely shared her feelings about her diagnosis and experience.

In her words, “I know from personal experience the fear and pain that can spring from a major medical crisis. In 1983, I was diagnosed with breast cancer which led to a double mastectomy. At the time, you didn’t hear a lot of inspirational stories, and you didn’t know many people who were survivors because everyone was so quiet about it. This is no longer the case. Today, my female colleagues in entertainment have PNWHI: a safe place to go to address serious medical concerns and get confidential and compassionate help.”

Staffed by social workers experienced in helping women manage a range of critical health concerns, PNWHI offers dedicated resources to address the challenges of a serious medical illness or injury and provide the care and support each woman needs to reduce stress and focus on her wellness.

With services ranging from navigating health care systems to connecting women to resources that offer education or financial assistance, PNWHI provides access to an extensive support network that includes health care, diagnostic, preventative and mental health services.

Phyllis Newman’s legacy lives on through the program she founded and the women it continues to help. The services of PNWHI are available to all women working in the performing arts and entertainment, with eligibility for financial assistance determined through an application, interview and documentation of professional earnings.

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