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Superstar Pam Grier Wants You To Eat Out Next Week

Superstar Pam Grier Wants You To Eat Out Next Week


Actress turned horse rancher Pam Grier says food can bring us together and help raise money for people living with HIV.

There’s no doubt that self-professed “hippie rocker” Pam Grier is out to save the world—or at least feed it. The badass star of  ’70s films like Foxy Brown (which made her movies’ first female action hero) and later the TV series The L Word is apparently fascinated by science, environmental sustainability, and philanthropy. But after just a few minutes of speaking with her, you can tell that one of Grier’s longest-standing passions is food. That’s just one reason Grier has paired up with Dining Out for Life, a nationwide event that takes place April 24, when participating restaurants will donate a portion of their proceeds for that day to organizations that help people living with HIV. While you may next see her on television (a series called Black Hawk, in which she’d play a former Homeland Security agent brought out of retirement, is in the works), she won’t let her acting career interfere with her fierce activism. From her home—a horse ranch in rural Colorado—she talks about HIV, giving back, and how food brings people together.

How did you get involved with Dining Out for Life?

I learned about it through Subaru, which has been one of the sponsors on my charitable projects for almost 11 years now. They’re one of the major sponsors of Dining Out for Life, which raises money for Project Angel Heart. So I went down to Project Angel Heart, which provides meals for people here in Colorado. The whole program is fantastic, because not only do you support people living with AIDS and people dealing with cancer, but also the discovery and education you can pick up from them is invaluable. And to have the restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds for one day is just extraordinary. I’d like to see Dining Out for Life every day—and all of those fabulous gourmet food trucks should participate as well.

Who was the first person you knew who had HIV?

The first person was my hairdresser. He was wonderful. I met him on a show I was working on. He just knew how to do my hair, and he could dress hair and style it.

But then I went to see him in Los Angeles, I heard he was ill, and he told me he didn’t want to see me. So I went to get him some food and shopped for him. I went to his apartment, and he was very ill. He said it was something that was going on in his community, and they didn’t know much about it, so he was suffering.

Even if you have a cold and you’re by yourself, maybe someone might bring you a pot of chicken soup. But if people are afraid, they’re not going to bring food. They’re not going to risk it. He lost a lot of friends and family, and I’m sure many people died alone like that.

He gave me something from his apartment, and I still have it in my bedroom. It was a Japanese gold screen. He made me put it in my car as a gift. I look at it every day. His name was Emory. He was just the most talented human being. And I still have that screen, and I will keep it in my family because it’s symbolic.

How do you choose which causes to get involved with philanthropically?

I come from a family of giving and generosity. My grandfather was one of the earliest people in my life who said, “The girls can do everything the boys can do.” He [was] a sugar beet farmer and we always shared food. Food was the elixir of life, the glue to the community. And if you had extra food with your crops, you shared. With that instilled in me, of course you share what you have, and if you have an overabundance, then so many people can benefit from that.

Would you say you have a passion for food?

Oh, definitely. I love to cook. Sometimes during the summers, I let my horses out late at night, and I get on the porch and just cook. People come over after being out at the clubs, late at night, and we just hang out and cook and eat, and sometimes I’ll tweet about it. It’s just really fun. I watch Chopped and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and I love to try new restaurants, especially the ones that Guy [Fieri, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives host] has been to. And now I’m gluten-free. I had some thyroid issues, so I had to get off of gluten-based foods, but you learn through discovery and science.

What do you think people get out of food, aside from basic nourishment?

Food helps people think, and food helps children learn. So, if you can make sure that people are being fed and they’re managing their health, it helps further discovery and enlightenment, and one day someone could figure out how to eradicate some of our worse ailments. I think [curing HIV] is something we’ll see in our lifetime, even with small movements like Dining Out for Life helping contribute to those efforts.


30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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