“Empire” star Taraji P. Henson has enjoyed wealth, celebrity, a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination. But behind the scenes, she’s battled anxiety and depression. PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger didn’t spend his unexpected weekend off just hanging around. It’s impossible when you’re the father of three young children. With flexible work-from-home schedules and a need for social connections, Chicagoans are spending more time online with long-distance friends. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
“Empire” star Taraji P. Henson has enjoyed wealth, celebrity, a Golden Globe win and an Academy Award nomination. But behind the scenes, she’s battled anxiety and depression.
On Thursday, the 50-year-old actress and filmmaker — who has spoken publicly and powerfully about her private struggles — was honored by the Boston-based Ruderman Family Foundation for her work to end the stigma around mental illness.
“It’s OK to not be OK,” Henson, the latest recipient of the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion, told The Associated Press via email. “Tell someone. Your vulnerability is actually your strength.”
Henson was nominated for an Oscar for 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” She also won critical acclaim for 2016’s “Hidden Figures,” about three African American mathematicians at NASA who played a key role in the early days of the U.S. space program, and won a 2016 Golden Globe for her role as Cookie Lyon in television’s “Empire” series.
In 2018, the Washington, D.C., native started the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation to stop those with mental illness from being stigmatized — especially Blacks, who she says are less likely to seek treatment.
This year, with the coronavirus pandemic complicating people’s mental health struggles, Henson’s foundation has been helping African Americans — who’ve been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — access free online therapy.
Henson named the foundation for her father, a military veteran whom she said “returned broken” from his service in Vietnam. The organization, she said, is “committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily simply because they are Black.”
Henson also is among several actors participating in a series of virtual panels about inclusion and equity in Hollywood hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that puts on the Oscars.
The Ruderman Family Foundation works for more inclusion and opportunities for the disabled. Previous recipients of its award include filmmaker brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, of Iowa, a driving force behind the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“When role models and influencers like Taraji are so vocal about their own experiences with mental illness, it has the potential to inspire millions of people to accept their own mental health issues and find healthy ways to address them,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the group.
“But it hasn’t just been words with Taraji. She took action,” he said. “We need more people like Taraji to continue to eliminate the stigma around mental health across all our communities in America.”
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Author: WILLIAM J. KOLE Associated Press
Back to work: Unbeaten Steelers welcome improving Eagles
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger didn’t spend his unexpected weekend off just hanging around. It’s impossible when you’re the father of three young children.
So the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback headed outside to play catch with his son Benjamin after the NFL postponed last week’s scheduled trip to Tennessee because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Titans. The 38-year-old Roethlisberger focused on keeping his surgically repaired right elbow loose and trying not to let the outside forces that have disrupted the familiar rhythms of the regular season get to him.
“It’s tough, especially for someone like myself who was just starting to kind of get back in the flow of things,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s not easy, but you have to adjust. You have to adapt and do the best you can.”
For the unbeaten Steelers (3-0) that means trying to hit reset in time for Sunday’s visit from cross-state rival Philadelphia (1-2-1). The erratic Eagles appear to be rounding into form following a sluggish start thanks in large part to a defense that’s nearly Pittsburgh’s equal when it comes to getting after the quarterback.
The Steelers lead the NFL in sacks per game (5.0). Philadelphia is second (4.2). Whichever offensive line does a better job keeping Roethlisberger or Eagles counterpart Carson Wentz upright will likely have the upper hand. Wentz has taken to taking off behind a makeshift offensive line, adding an element Pittsburgh’s front seven hasn’t faced yet this season.
Wentz has struggled in the pocket this season and has thrown a league-worst seven interceptions, matching his total from each of the past three years. But he’s scrambling more, gaining 102 yards on 16 carries in the past two games and has run for a touchdown in each of the past three weeks.
“I love being on the move and extending plays, making things happen,” Wentz said. “I think it puts a lot of stress on the defense. Obviously, I have to be smart and know when to take my chances and know when to throw the ball away. Especially with a team that plays a lot of zone coverage, when plays break down, they’re out of position or guys are coming open down the field. When that happens there’s a lot of big plays to be had when you do escape and move the pocket.”
If Wentz does it effectively, the Eagles could put their ugly start firmly in the rearview mirror. A victory for the Steelers would push them to 4-0 for the first time in 41 years.
Considering the uncertain nature of trying to play a season in the middle of a pandemic, winning becomes an even more valuable commodity because — as Pittsburgh learned last week — you never know what’s around the corner. It could be another opponent. It could be a game of catch with your kid.
The Steelers will allow 5,550 fans into 68,400-seat Heinz Field for the first time this season after Pennsylvania officials eased the restrictions on the size of outdoor gatherings. While that’s less than 10% of capacity, it’s also a marked departure from Pittsburgh’s first two games played in front of a sea of empty yellow seats.
“To go into all this and say, ‘No fans, man that is so weird,’ now saying ‘There’s going to be fans in the stands, man, that is so weird,’” Steelers tight end Vance McDonald said. “It’s probably not going to be that significant but at the same time, it’s a little bit back to normal.”
The Eagles dominated the Steelers 34-3 in their previous meeting in 2016 to improve to 3-0 in their first season under Wentz and then-first-year head coach Doug Pederson. Philadelphia sacked Roethlisberger four times and forced him to commit two turnovers. The faces of Pittsburgh’s offense have largely changed over the past four years, though the Eagles remain wary of the wide variety of playmakers at Roethlisberger’s disposal.
Ten different Steelers have at least four touches through three games. Running back James Conner has topped 100 yards rushing in consecutive games for the first time since the first half of 2018 and wide receivers JuJu Smith-Shuster and Diontae Johnson are part of a young and diverse pass-catching group.
“There’s a lot of things, but it’s one of those teams that I think if you devote too many resources to take any one player or one aspect of their offense away, they certainly have the capability to make you pay in other ways,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “So it’s going to take a good, solid team outing to play well on Sunday.”
ON THE PROWL
The Steelers have recorded a sack in 60 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL and the fourth-longest all time. Outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree are hardly doing it alone. Eight different Steelers have at least half a sack. It’s much the same for the Eagles, who have 17 sacks spread among 13 players, including defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who signed with Philadelphia in the offseason after spending his first four years in Pittsburgh.
“They’re penetrators, they’re disrupters,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of the Eagles’ front seven. “They pick off pullers. They create unblocked linebackers at the point of attack. We have to do a good job of neutralizing that group, covering them up and working to minimize their impact on the game.”
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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Author: WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
Only a Zoom call away: COVID-19 brings long-distance friends closer
As the COVID-19 pandemic tightened its grip on Chicago, Danielle Campbell reached out to seven of her dearest friends. Most had gone to college with her; all had been in her wedding. But now one was in Seattle, and three were living in France.
“You’re my favorite people,” Campbell texted. “I want to make sure that you’re all okay.”
The “Fabulous Babes” group chat that resulted was flooded with messages, and soon there was a weekly Zoom meeting with wine or cocktails. The “Babes” discussed their anxieties and challenges, but they also shared silly photos and joked and laughed.
“It just really became a lifeline for all of us,” said Campbell, 47, of Oak Park.
Chicagoans have reached out to dear friends across the country and the world during the pandemic. And in some cases, they’ve stayed in close contact with multiple conversations, texting sessions or video chats.
In interviews and responses to Tribune queries on Facebook, two dozen area residents said they were spending more time with close friends who live far away than they did before the pandemic.
Nicole McCabe makes a video of herself to send to her friend Erin Baird of Fort Mill, South Carolina. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)
That makes sense to Washington, D.C., psychologist and friendship expert Marisa G. Franco, who said she, herself, is in more frequent contact with her best friend in Chicago, in part because this is a stressful time and in part due to pandemic-related flexibility in her schedule.
“Work life is less rigid,” Franco said.
“We’ve heard a lot about how the boundaries of our work life have changed, but in the same way, I think, the boundaries of our emotional life have changed. For friends, that can be useful because it’s like, ‘Oh, now let’s chat at 1 o’clock, when I don’t have a meeting at work.’”
Others point out that COVID-19 makes proximity less of a factor in friendship.
“When you can’t be close to people physically, it opens up (your options),” said Kryss Miller, 47, of Oak Park.
“If I’m connecting with somebody across the street with Zoom, I can also connect with my friend in Paris.”
River Forest resident Emily Paster, a freelance food writer who grew up in Washington, D.C., touched on a common theme when she talked about connecting with close high school friends on Zoom.
One of her former classmates is living in Rome, she said. Others are in New York and Washington, D.C. But their 30-year bond remains strong.
“When we get together, it’s just the easiest thing in the world, without any of the awkwardness or superficiality of some of our adult relationships,” said Paster, 46.
“It’s so different — it’s such an authentic, honest connection — because we knew each other growing up. We’ve been in each other’s childhood homes, we knew each other’s parents. When my dad passed away in 2011, my friends in River Forest were lovely and supportive, but it was nothing like hearing from my friends from high school who knew my dad.”
In one of the more innovative twists on the trend, Melanie Pivarski, of Oak Park, is taking a Zoom ballet class with an old college friend who lives in England.
Nicole McCabe, of Naperville, is now in daily contact with a close high school friend in South Carolina via the Marco Polo video app.
Nicole McCabe looks over a recent video of her close but long-distance friend Erin Baird of Fort Mill, South Carolina, using the video app Marco Polo. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)
“Those old friendships — there’s such a comfort and an ease. They know you in such a deep way,” said McCabe, 41, who works for an educational nonprofit.
Aurora resident Neeta Pal, who grew up in India, attended a Zoom meetup with a dozen friends from college who are living in India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S., Dubai and Singapore.
The women, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, recalled college crushes and hijinks, including sneaking out of the dorms after the 7:30 p.m. curfew for tea or dinner with friends.
“It was like no time had elapsed,” said Pal, 42, a mechanical engineer. “It felt really, really good.”
Early in the pandemic, Oak Park resident Becky Fuller sent a meme to her next door neighbor and close friend Danielle Campbell: “Check in on your extroverts. They are not okay.”
Campbell, the extrovert in question, said the message hit home.
Campbell started a WhatsApp chat for both women and six friends from Chicago, Seattle and France. France was going into lockdown, and Americans were feeling scared and isolated. Major life events such as high school graduations and weddings were canceled.
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“In retrospect, I think I was mourning, because I did something I did when my dad died,” recalled Fuller, 47, a program manager for a software company. “I was staying up way too late — till 1 or 2 in the morning, alone.”
But because members of the chat group were in different time zones, there was round-the-clock support. Regular Zoom meetings allowed the women to compare COVID-19 experiences in different countries, voice their fears, talk about work and share concerns about remote schooling.
The group met weekly at first, and still comes together every two weeks or so.
Fuller said the popularity of this type of long-distance socializing surprises her a little, but she’s glad to be a part of it.
“I feel like it was necessary,” Campbell said. “Everybody panicked and threw out life preservers — like, ‘Somebody pull me up into your boat.’”
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Author: Nara Schoenberg
Prep football: With first win in hand, Anniston back at work looking for second victory
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Anniston’s football team proved it last season. After a 4-4 start, The Bulldogs hit their stride late in the season, advancing all the way to the Class 4A state semifinals as the No. 3 seed from Region 6.
While an 0-5 start to 2020 may make a similar run seem improbable, Anniston isn’t giving up hope.
Goal No. 1 was to post victory No. 1, and the Bulldogs did just that last week, defeating White Plains 48-42.
“You play to win the game,” Anniston coach Rico White said before Wednesday’s practice. “It was great to get in the win column.”
White said the goal now shifts to making the playoffs. Accomplishing that goal starts Friday when the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2 Class 4A, Region 5) face Munford at Lott-Mosby Memorial Stadium. The Lions enter 1-3 against Region 4 opponents, with their lone victory coming against Cleburne County, but they’ve beaten Talladega, Fultondale and Lincoln in non-region play.
“We got a chance to get in the playoffs. That’s the biggest goal, but it’s one game at a time,” White said. “We’ve got our hands full this Friday with Munford. Munford is a good team. They have, I think, one win in the conference, but they’ve got several wins outside the conference. That lets you know that they are a good team.
“So we’ve got our hands full. We’ve got to go to war.”
For Anniston quarterback Kamron Sandlin, who said it “felt really good” to pick up his first varsity win as a starting quarterback against White Plains, Friday’s game against Munford will be more personal than most.
Sandlin transferred from Munford to Anniston before the school year, a move he said he and his dad had been discussing since he was in middle school. The sophomore still has friends on the team at Munford and said it would mean “a lot” to knock off the Lions.
“They’re still my friends and all that, but once we get on the field, I’ve got no friends,” Sandlin said.
Barring something unforeseen, it appears Handley, Cherokee County and Jacksonville will likely earn the top three seeds in Region 4, as each has already posted three region wins. That means Friday’s contest between Anniston and Munford could go a long way towards determining which school earns the fourth and final spot in the postseason field.
White said a win over the Lions would be “huge.”
“The way we’ve been looking at it, whoever wins between us, will probably get that fourth spot. That’s what makes the game even more important,” he said. “I think we are up for the challenge. We’ve just got to play hard.”
Author: Jared Gravette, Sports Copy Chief, email@example.com