After launching in New York with a lavish event hosted by heavy-hitting ladies including Barbara Walters, Ivanka Trump and Martha Stewart, Women’s Brain Health Initiative celebrated its West Coast debut at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills on Wednesday night with help from some glamorous supporters like Anne Heche, Camilla Belle and Molly Sims.
“My mom had a stroke 10 years ago,” said Sims, currently a correspondent on “The View,” who flew back early from a TAG Heuer watch event she hosted with Tom Brady to be present for the occasion. “I know so many people affected with so many brain issues… I guess what I didn’t realize is more strokes affect women. Alzheimer’s affects women.”
And she wasn’t alone. “People are not aware that this is an issue,” said WBHI charity founder Lynn Posluns. “They’re not aware that 70% of Alzheimer’s sufferers are women. That women suffer from stroke, depression, Dementia twice as much as men as they age, but that the research is still focused on men.”
“When I realized the statistics for it, it really scared me,” noted Belle, who’ll next be seen starring opposite Scott Eastwood in the “very dark and twisted” period Western “Diablo.” “It’s something that’s hit me very close to home, and I’ve lost two close family members because of Alzheimer’s, and it’s a thing I always want to learn more about: prevention for myself, for my friends, for my family, for my mom.”
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Another topic Belle thinks women need to unite over is equality in Hollywood, a subject recently brought to light in an essay written by Jennifer Lawrence. “We’re each going to fight our own battle, when it’s somewhat of the same battle, so why don’t we fight it together?” she suggested, noting that pay inequality was part of the problem. “But even just the treatment of women,” she elaborated. “I went to a Q&A last week with a lot of women, and a big issue was gender equality, and all these writers in the writing room and the way that they’re treated is not the same as a male writer.”
“Everyone thinks we’re paid the same, and we’re not — clearly, by a lot,” Sims stated. “Women like Jennifer Lawrence, it’s a beautiful thing that she did, writing that essay, and I applaud her, because it’s not easy… We’re not going to be heard unless we band together.”
“I think we’re stronger in numbers,” agreed Heche, who came out to support her manager of 12 years, Alissa Vradenburg, and her parents, Alzheimer’s foundation founders Trish and George Vradenburg. “Two is better than one, and three is better than two, and the more you get, the more energy you have together, the more ideas you share and the more you support each other; the better life is going to be.” And don’t be fooled by her newest project — a show she’s producing with Cindy Crawford and her boyfriend James Tupper for NBC on the seemingly objectifying modeling world in the ’70s. Quite the contrary, Heche’s draw to the project was because, “I’m a fan of women,” she said.
And clearly, the glitzy group of event hosts are fans of female brain research. “Everybody’s come to the charity for different reasons,” noted Posluns of the celebrity supporters — which included stars Melanie Griffith and Sharon Stone, who were unable to attend. “Some because of brain aneurysms, some because of traumatic brain injuries, some because a mother has had Alzheimer’s… Ivanka Trump in New York, she said, ‘I’m in my thirties and I want to make sure I have my cognitive abilities in tact when I get older.’ And cumulatively, I think it makes a very powerful statement.”
She expressed exactly what that statement was when she later addressed the crowd: “That the influential women hosting tonight are lending their time and support to our initiative reinforces our message that our brain matters.”