Corona Chronicles: Fox News’ Bret Baier Adjusts to Working from Home, ‘This Is Us’ Actress Battles Anxiety and Other Personal Stories

coronavirus hollywood
Cheyne Gately for Variety

There are many stories to tell, from those who have had coronavirus to being a parent during these unprecedented times. Whether it is mask making to help those on the frontlines or using music to entertain and raise funds, the message is universal one: “We are all in this together.” This pandemic continues to impact the industry. Read Variety’s ongoing series of stories.

Bret Baier
Fox News Channel’s Chief political anchor and executive editor of “Special Report” 

It had been a busy three weeks on the road: a town hall with Senator Amy Klobuchar in North Carolina, South Carolina primary and then Super Tuesday coverage in New York, a town hall with President Trump in Pennsylvania, and then a town hall with Bernie Sanders in Michigan.   

Word came down early that I would be anchoring the show from my home to keep as many people out of the DC bureau as possible – as a result of the coronavirus. I hadn’t seen my family much because of my recent travels so we actually looked at it from the beginning as a time to slow down and to be together, a blessing. My wife Amy and two boys Paul, 12, and Daniel, 9, got into a routine right away.      

The boys’ “distance learning” – school at home over the computer– was definitely a challenge at first. Amy supervises the operation most mornings – but I occasionally sit in before my morning conference calls. (The “new math” is not something I’m used to. I like the “old math” and they told me there would be NO math anyway.) We eat lunch together, go our separate ways for more class or work and then we take “movement breaks” together – usually 2-on-1 basketball or walking our Golden-doodle, Coco. Then, late afternoon – most days involve a family walk through the woods before I get ready for my show – which is shot in a makeshift studio set up in our garage. One day runs into another, but we’re together and safe. 

Amy has been vigilant on making us wash hands multiple times a day, use hand sanitizer, drink a lot of water, and take vitamins, zinc and elderberry. We’re extra cautious because we’re vulnerable – well, Paul is. Paul was born with five congenital heart defects. He’s had three open-heart surgeries and nine angioplasties. You would never know it – he’s one of the tallest kids in his class and plays on the basketball and golf teams. But, he is definitely at risk for complications if he got COVID-19 – which has crossed my mind during several sleepless nights – but, we do what we can and take one day at a time.    

Along with the latest news developments, I’ve been trying to share positive, uplifting stories from around the country on my social media platforms. I’ve also been sharing innovative efforts by parents to keep kids busy. (We played board games for the first time in years and had a blast).     

We don’t know how long this will last and parts of our country are hurting with the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job or both. I decided at the beginning of this home studio stint that I would add a line to my show’s close – usually “Fair, Balanced and Unafraid.” Now I added a line that I used to tell Amy every night we walked out of the hospital when Paul was recovering from his heart surgeries – “We’re one day closer to getting through this.” 

Candace Cameron Bure

About two weeks ago, my brother Kirk called me after watching another benefit concert on TV. It was great and entertaining and he said, “Something is missing from it, the source of hope.” 

He said he wanted to put together a concert with music that had lyrics that provide hope and inspiration. And that’s how it started.

We frantically started putting it together, reaching out to different artists. They taped performances from their homes. 

The concert was meant to air on a network, but they pulled out a few days before because of the faith content. We asked Facebook Live and now it’s become this grassroots event to promote the concert. 

It’s really exceeded our expectations. All the money is going to Samaritan’s Purse. They have mobile hospitals all across the country. What’s meaningful about them is that they do it with the purpose of sharing God’s love. 

It’s airing this Sunday with inspirational messages and performances  from Kristen Chenoweth and Gloria Gaynor. 

Paul Farberman
President Paul Farberman Entertainment

I returned home from London to Los Angeles on March 2. 

At that time, life was completely normal. Sure, people were talking about the virus in Los Angeles, but every store and restaurant was open and the streets were busy with tourists. Nobody was wearing a mask  and people were going about their everyday business.  

Five days later, on Saturday March 7, I started to feel sick. I was physically tired like I have never been, had no appetite, which was unusual for me, and I had a fever.  It was not the same feeling of being tired from lack of sleep or being jet-lagged. It was a much more severe exhaustion. I was not coughing and had no pain or discomfort in my chest or anywhere else. I felt the same on Sunday. On Monday I saw my doctor. After a chest x-ray, blood work and a battery of other tests, I was given a prescription and told the doctor would call me with the test results. And then I was sent home. 

At that time I was not tested for the coronavirus. The next day, the doctor called me and told me to stop taking the medication that she had just given me the day before and I should immediately go to the emergency department and get a CAT scan. I took an Uber right to the hospital. There, the doctors determined I had pneumonia and I was admitted. 

And yet, I was still not tested for the coronavirus. 

Two days later the doctors finally decided to test me. Three days later I received the results: I was positive for COVID-19. I was in total shock and disbelief. There is no way I could possibly be one of those statistics in the news! I was in total denial. I was moved immediately from the intensive care unit to a critical care unit where only coronavirus patients were being treated. My breathing was labored and heavy and I was treated with an ongoing oxygen supply. 

Every time a doctor or nurse came into my room wearing long gowns, masks and facial guards when he or she left my room, they immediately took off their gowns and threw them right in the garbage. 

I stayed in that hospital for a week. I was sent home in an ambulance and required to be on oxygen for 24 hours a day. It’s now five weeks later and I am no longer on oxygen. While it was a very, very tough few weeks, I am happy to say I am feeling better than ever. 

I am lucky that I was already in the hospital being treated for pneumonia when they found out that I had the coronavirus. I am lucky that I was there in early March before the number of cases began to increase dramatically. I am lucky to have been treated by such truly caring and compassionate doctors and other medical staff. I can never show them enough appreciation. My sincere heartfelt gratitude goes out to the doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff who worked tirelessly, risking their lives to save ours.

While I was in the hospital and for the first three weeks that I was home, I made a conscious decision not to watch any news or read any information that would bring any negativity into my life. While I am feeling well physically, my sense of smell and taste has not fully returned. I still have some very emotional days where I cry, overwhelmed by what I see on the news and realizing how fortunate I am to be enjoying life.

It is absolutely critical for everyone to listen to all the doctors and scientists who are doing their jobs over and above the call of duty. Listen to them. They are telling you the facts and the truth. Believe me, you don’t want this virus. It’s sad and unfortunate that because of misinformation and the lies we received from the Trump administration in February and early March, people just did not take this situation seriously. Now, with all the reported cases of people with the virus and all the tragic deaths, most people are wearing masks, practicing social distancing  and listening to what the experts say. But we can not relax. This problem is more serious than ever. 

Every citizen on the planet must do his part to ensure the virus does not continue to spread.

Hannah Zeile
Actor, “This is Us”

This is a crazy time to be alive. A time filled with a lot of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. 

I have struggled with anxiety long before there was a pandemic, but now even those who did not previously battle anxiety are experiencing it. I think it is important to find the balance of taking this situation seriously and following precautions, yet not feeding into hysteria and living in panic. 

Constantly seeking silver linings in all this has helped my state of mind, which is very important considering the power our minds hold.

I’ve been using this mandated time at home to write and record original music. Creating art is essential for my mental health because it gives me an escape and a place to let out what

I have bottled within.

 One day during quarantine, I was feeling more anxious than usual and had a lot weighing on me. Rather than laying around and trying to sleep it all away, I felt compelled to write truthfully about how I was feeling. I wrote and recorded “Ode to My Anxiety” that same day. I’ve been very tentative when it comes to releasing original music because it is so personal and vulnerable and feels much different from playing a character. 

I’m always advising people to “push through insecurities and don’t get in your own way,” so I decided to practice what I preach when I realized that this song could resonate with a lot of people right now. 

Although the song is talking about anxiety, it still has a message of hope by reminding everyone (including myself) that things will be okay and even this too shall pass.

I hope this song brings peace, joy, and unity as we all continue to fight this battle together. I strongly encourage everyone to find their silver lining, mine being having the time to

fully focus on my music and create art that I am proud of. 

We can use this time at home to give attention to things we didn’t prioritize before whether it’s reading, organizing, cooking, creating, self-care or spending quality time with family. 

Perspective is everything so if you are feeling low, try changing your point of view because as I said before, our minds withhold endless power.

Václav Marhoul
Director, “The Painted Bird”

Here in the Czech Republic, I am fine, as is my family. I’m working. I come to my production office every day because so many other things have been put on hold.

At this time, ”The Painted Bird“ was supposed to be entering cinemas around the world, including South Korea, the U.K., Holland and Belgium. Soon it would go to the United States and Canada.

Now everything is postponed, but not canceled! Cinemas are still interested in putting on the film. When the situation gets better – and it will – ”The Painted Bird“ will fly on.

Czech politicians committed many missteps. But worst of all, they lied. They lied about how ready we were, how much stock we had in state reserves of masks and ventilators. Cities and streets are deserted in the evening. Prague looks like a ghost town.

But most importantly, the crisis has spurred an enormous degree of solidarity. For example, people help old people who are unable to get important things on their own, especially shopping for groceries and medicine.

And people try so hard. When there are no government masks, they sew them themselves at home and then offer them free of charge. 

It’s also typical of Czechs to resist by humor. Although everybody understands what‘s going on, they’re making light of their situation, trying to shoulder it better.

I deeply believe that we can do everything together and that we will survive.

Dan Bucatinsky
Actor “The Baker and the Beauty”

 6:25 a.m. I wake up the same time every morning. No matter how late I stayed up to watch the last episode of “Unorthodox.”  I wake with a start. As though someone’s breaking into the house. Feels like that, doesn’t it? But while we’re tucked safely away in our homes for the unforeseeable future, presumably safe as we’re unified with the world in our effort to “flatten the curve,” it doesn’t feel like we’re safe. Something has disrupted our lives in such a fundamental way that something as simple, say, as a handshake is no longer safe. I wake with dryness in my throat. And an inability to take a full breath. And I’m overcome with this tidal wave of absolute certainty: I have Covid19!

By 6:27, I’ve taken a sip of water and come to what’s left of my senses. I have to remind myself of what we’re doing. Why I’ve only worn a T-shirt and sweatpants for over a month. Why so much of our time now, when we’re not trying to meditate (good luck) is about getting support for those on the front lines of this pandemic. For me, First Responders First aids healthcare workers risking their lives to support ours. And FeedingAmerica.org because the simple act of getting food is not so simple anymore.

Our business has been undone. We work from home, yes. But TV shows are no longer in production. Pilot season as we’ve known it, has been stopped in its tracks. And the film industry may never recover from theaters being shuttered. Beyond that, we must bear witness to friends and colleagues getting sick or, in some cases, dying. I lost my dear friend, acclaimed playwright, Terrence McNally. He gave me – all of us — and particularly the American theater, the gifts of his talent, activism and inspiration. Now Broadway is dark and I can’t imagine when the curtains will go up again.

We in the entertainment industry rely on audiences. And we work in crews and teams and families. But when will we be allowed to be together again? What will be the new “SAFE”?  In the meantime, I can work on writing projects. Because I can do them alone, from home, without wearing a mask. And I’m going to exercise and argue with my kids about screen time and then play a lot of Monopoly. And I’ll pray we find an audience for my show “Baker and the Beauty.”

But first, I’ll bake some bread.  Because life now is about controllable variables vs. uncontrollable ones. And the four ingredients that’ll lead to an oddly satisfying stress binge while I homeschool my kids? That, I can control.

Christopher Lennertz
Composer and songwriter

First off, I miss hugging my friends and seeing their smiles in person. Secondly, teachers should get paid a billion dollars (though I believed that before the virus). Because of the nature of composing, some parts of life haven’t changed as much for me as they have for others, but with homeschooling and high-risk in-laws that live with us and older parents nearby…schedules are certainly a bit more challenging. The good news is that I’ve gotten to spend more time with my wife and kids, and the even better news is that, in between a few meltdowns, that time has been filled with much fun, silliness, and creativity. 

I’m still working on season 2 of “The Boys,” a film called “Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar,” and after that, the” Tom and Jerry” movie, writing from home and doing meetings on Zoom and Skype. 

But the biggest hurdle is the thing that concerns me the most about our film music community: How will we record everything while the world is on lockdown and how are the amazing musicians and studio crews going to survive for months or more with no sessions? We’re going to do our best to have people record remotely and share files, but the truth is, that they are facing a massive challenge and we all must try to do our part to make sure all of our extended creative families can make it through this.

Emotionally, it has been up and down…sometimes bringing waves of creativity and inspiration, and other times, loneliness and anxiety for friends and family when the weight of news and stories of doctors without enough masks and hospitals without enough beds makes us all feel so very helpless. It’s at that point that the world needs art and music more than ever. When people can’t share touch or close human contact, there’s nothing that can make people feel more connected and “together” than sharing the perfect song with just the right message that seems to erase the distance and seclusion.

In the midst of all of this, I’ve been cooking (and eating) up a storm. We threw a virtual Zoom Luau for spring break, have had multiple dance battles, created “D&D” characters, watched almost all the Disney musicals and “Harry Potter” films again, learned some TikTok dances, and have done much in-depth research on the many uses for Nutella. 

I’ll just finish by saying thank you to all of the medical professionals, first responders, scientists, delivery, and food-service professionals that are risking so much and working so hard for all of us right now. You are our heroes and we are so very grateful! 

Brunson Green
Producer and writer

It’s all Hoda’s fault.  My boyfriend, Jason Collins, and I were 15 days into our COVID-19 illness, and finally starting to feel better. I’d kept calm through the entire illness, then Hoda Kotb, one of America’s national treasures — whose pores spew positivity and kindness — breaks down in tears after interviewing Drew Brees about his generosity for his neighbors in desperate need. She, like all of us, realizes this is going to be a long road. Seeing Hoda crying permitted me to cry too — not for Jason or me, we were sick, but safe and getting better every day. My tears were for friends like Txema, who’s just in his 30s in Madrid with pneumonia fighting for his life, and for the massive ordeal our health care workers have in front of them this next year.  

But, this sparked an idea. Most of us who get sick will get through this, and every week the number of people who have #crushedcovid will grow. Germany is already testing and registering people who have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, so they can safely aid their community, and even start getting their economy rolling again. Unfortunately, the United States will never be proactive enough to do something like this, because many Americans have been convinced that the government shouldn’t have information on its citizens. 

Since a centralized system is off the table, as a community, we can create a positive, non-verbal way to ease people’s fears and offer help. So, I’ve started drumming up my summer camp arts and craft skills and making olive green bracelets to give to friends and family members who have gotten through COVID-19, are non-contagious, and safely able to help community and health workers who are at risk. My thought is that olive green represents the army of immune and healthy people who want to help more vulnerable neighbors get through this — think of the elderly couple who went viral for being scared of grocery shopping. We can change that story. 

As soon as the antibody test is available, and I’m clear, I’ll volunteer for an organization that helps alleviate the risk for our brave public servants or health care workers. There are innovative nonprofits already solving problems. Project Angel Food has been brilliant and proactive, taking on the dual purpose of hiring out-of-work chefs as meal preppers and providing food for people who can’t leave their homes. You can donate to them here:  https://bit.ly/2WQ6Zkm 

While waiting for that test, I’ll keep my distance and weave my bracelets. The first batch I’m making is going straight to Txema in Madrid because I know he’ll make it, and he’ll have too many of his own friends and family to share them with.

Kelly Walker
Writer and director of “My Fiona”

Moments before Trump announced the coronavirus travel ban I was, well —  living my best life. In less than a week I was flying to London for BFI Flare Film Festival where my feature I wrote and directed, “My Fiona,” would be premiering. We also just found out that our film was to be included in BFI’s “Best of the Fest.” Can the day get any better? Answer — yes! The newest biopic script I had been working on was gaining industry interest and I landed a manager that I’ve been hoping to work with for years. Now I don’t spend a lot of time taking in the little wins, but for some reason I was like, “Girl, you go get yourself some champagne — the expensive kind —  and celebrate!”

With Trump’s address at low volume in the background, my aunt and I were sipping champagne and talking wistfully about how hard work does pay off. The next five days became a blur of cheap wine, anxiety and little sleep. With the escalating crisis one by one, our cast and producers backed out of London, but the festival hadn’t canceled. My lead producer and I were still going to represent — travel ban and all. Now this is where we step into that dangerous tango dance between huge opportunity and better judgment. This film has been the last four years of my life, after all, and making anything independently is an uphill battle from start to finish and — we finished. We’re going!

When the festival finally canceled, I must admit, it was a relief. The music stopped, and the tango came to an ungracefully abrupt halt, with the festival’s “better judgment” winning out.  Mourning my best life, I took a few days to spiral through the classic stages of grief and I realized with the final stage of acceptance, there is something truly beautiful that will come out of this.  

I do not doubt that all the festivals and filmmakers will come together with determination so that the indie films of 2020 will not disappear. Empathy will and already is unifying our industry and I’m finding some kind of strange comfort in this creative collective. The story is still being written and I strongly believe we’ll get that world premiere, it’s just gonna look a little different — and come later in the third act.

Although my vision board feels like it’s mocking me, my new perspective shift reminds me that just three weeks ago I was sipping the expensive champagne talking about hard work paying off… and guess what? It still will. That just wasn’t our moment. 

Kabir Akhtar, 
Emmy-winning editor and director “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Four weeks ago, I was in India on a family vacation. It’s wild to think how different everything was then: we were barely concerned about the virus going around in Asia but were way more concerned about all the recent outbreaks of violence in New Delhi. Right before the trip, I had directed an episode of the new “Saved By The Bell” and had a blast working with their awesome cast and crew. So on my first morning in India, I was thrilled to get an email saying they wanted me to come back for a second episode. The timing was perfect; it would start three days after I got home.

When I landed at LAX on March 7, I sailed through the Global Entry line, surprised (even back then) that nobody was asking what countries I had visited. I went back to work on the 10th, before we all knew the term “social distancing.” Friends at work asked about the trip while half-jokingly keeping their distance. The next day, the NBA suspended their season, and by the end of the week we were heading home to an uncertain future. The episode was fully prepped and ready to shoot … but would have to wait.

And yet, as a long-time freelancer, I wasn’t initially fazed by the idea of an expected hiatus. Some part of me thought, “Hooray, I’ll finally get to organize those closets, and clean out the garage, and learn Esperanto!” But then, this has turned out to be very different than any hiatus any of us ever had. Sad news comes at us hourly, anxiety underscored by our collective uncertainty about when the industry might be up and running again. 

I’ve been home for over two weeks now. I’ve learned more about tiger zoos than I ever expected to. And my girlfriend and the cat are both doing their best to keep this extrovert sane. I expect the “stay home” life to continue through June, and I’m grateful this has happened in the era of Zoom meetings and myriad streaming options. (I directed some episodes of a Netflix series which premieres in April, and now my friends will have no excuse for not watching it.) I love my work and I can’t wait to be back at it again, and I hope we all stay safe and stay healthy.

Matthew Kilgore
Dresser for “Hamilton”

Before the coronavirus outbreak, I was working full-time as a dresser at “Hamilton” on Broadway and as a wardrobe assistant on the “Today.” I took a few days off to travel to Florida to see my partner in a production of “A Chorus Line” in Boca Raton, FL. On the airplane, I found out that all Broadway shows would be closed through Easter. I stepped off the plane in Florida unemployed for the foreseeable future.

When we returned to NYC, we immediately quarantined ourselves in our Chelsea apartment — going out only to walk our pup, purchase groceries, and run along the Hudson River. As the virus progressed, I watched as my fellow wardrobe colleagues began sewing masks for healthcare workers. I researched masks for our personal use, and I signed up to make masks for the Skilled Laborers Brigade. Until I got my first assignment with SLB, I constructed masks for the family.

I struggled to obtain fabric since I do not keep a large stock of fabric. After a few tries to purchase fabric online, I finally successfully purchased a few yards of fabric that I am using to make masks for friends and family members in need.

On Thursday, I received a box of supplies from the Skilled Laborers Brigade. There were pieces to construct 50 masks that will go immediately to frontline workers in California. I immediately got to work and finished all 50 masks on Saturday. These specific masks will be used to cover and protect existing N95 masks. They are now in a box awaiting pickup to be shipped.

You can find many mask patterns online ranging from simple no-sew masks to elaborate masks that require a sewing machine. For personal use, I prefer a contoured mask with a pocket that a disposable filter fits inside.

My favorite pattern can be found here.

I am thankful to still be healthy. Wearing a mask in public feels empowering. Protecting myself and others by simply keeping my face covered and maintaining a safe distance is the one thing we can do to fight this outbreak. The more we all do our part to stay home, stay covered and keep our distance when out in public, the sooner we can defeat this virus and return to life as we used to know it.

Aron Levitz, 
Head of Wattpad Studios

It’s almost surreal to realize that just over a month ago, it was business as usual. I was getting ready for SXSW and then was scheduled to head to APOS. Like many of us in the industry, life is usually a series of short and long-haul flights and face-to-face meetings with people from all over the world. That has changed for everyone. Today, meetings are both business and moments of connection. These are moments that are enhanced when my daughter pops in to check on our latest IP discussion, or you end up discussing the horror poster that a colleague has on their wall behind their makeshift home video conferencing studio. More than ever, we are all looking for ways to connect, to share and better empathize with our family, friends and colleagues.  

In a moment of relentless uncertainty, I’m struck by the positivity and optimism I see and hear from partners, as well as from users on our platform. Online, people want to create and connect. There is catharsis through creativity, and creators are dreaming up new realms and universes to help spread some joy and connection within our own. As a result, we’ve seen unprecedented growth in creation on our platform: since the beginning of January, we’ve seen a 151% growth in new story uploads and a 125% increase in new writers. 

Now that no one is on set, everyone is looking toward the future and reading everything they can. We continually hear from development execs, writers, showrunners, actors and everyone in between about finding new IP and projects. The town, and in fact, the world is reading. It is everyone’s new point of connection. 

This all means more time with our producing partners, more time diving into recent story uploads, managing development across nine languages and 15 partners all over the world. It also means more time balancing work and family life when those worlds collide in the same place. It means working together, even while we’re separate. In short, it means taking things one day at a time, and supporting one another as we navigate the new entertainment landscape together. But we’ve always done this and it’s part of our DNA as a studio. We bring together our global team to connect writers from all over the world with amazing producers and studios. It’s our mission statement: to entertain the world with data-driven stories. 

More than ever before, we’re all part of something bigger. We’re all in this story together and we need to stay connected. Stories can be that connection today and in the future

Justin Anderson
Co-star of E!’s “Very Cavallari”

What a weird time we are all in, right?! I think we are all in the same boat with this epidemic that has completely taken over. It’s not easy, but one thing is for sure you have to try and stay positive and safe! Everyone I have talked to has been personally affected by this virus, whether that be a family member or friend who was diagnosed or just the day to day that this virus has caused us all. 

This epidemic has put fear in everyone’s eyes and all I hope is that somehow our country can continue coming together and get past this together. I think it’s a good time to focus on what’s important and staying in touch with family and friends. Being a colorist, I know this is a very tough time to make money (other professions as well), but speaking to my fellow salon professionals, I know this time isn’t easy. And that is why I wanted to give back to others by giving them a chance to make money using my dpHUE app! Sell dpHUE products to your clients and the colorist gets half and I get half – fair right?! In times like this I think it’s important to think outside of the box and support each other. I haven’t been able to attend to my celebrity clients but thankfully with the dpHUE root touch kits, I have been able to send these out to my clients to help them maintain their own color during these times and thus keep up the self-esteem which we all know is important. So besides making sure women are looking and feeling their very best in isolation and out, I am using this downtime to binge-watch all my favorite shows and experiment new recipes in the kitchen with my brand new fiancé, Austin. 

James DeJulio
Co-Founder and CEO, Tongal

Yesterday I wore a bandana mask into Citibank to withdraw an irresponsible amount of cash, just in case there is some more dystopian future ahead where I have to “pull a Bogart” and buy the last letters of transit out of Casablancafornia. On any normal day, I would’ve been handcuffed, given my look that said, “I’m about to hand a bank teller a note.” But alas, this is just normal life in the time of Corona, when going out makes you feel like we’re all living in the lost John Carpenter film. Other personal highs/lows from the last few weeks:

I made an unsuccessful attempt at an SVOD intervention with a 6-year-old spending “Spring Break” watching TV for approximately 80% of waking hours.
I accepted Wim Hof’s breathwork and cold shower challenge to keep my immune system in peak condition and nearly went into hypothermic shock.
I resisted the urge to touch my face 9,324 times.
I became an emotional disaster when I heard the brilliant John Prine passed away.
I’ve had a crazy month on top of this crazy month. For Tongal, my team and myself, March came in like a Lion. We announced our partnership with and investment from Endeavor and the world had this awesome, new car smell. Four days later, SXSW was canceled and the smell of panic set in across the industry.

This is a strange time, but I guess all we can do is stay home, stay safe and, as they say, practice gratitude. I’m grateful for the time with my wife and daughters. I’m also grateful for the time to reflect and think about how Tongal will support our creative community and clients through whatever else the world throws at us.

I’m grateful I CAN work from home, while so many can’t, and that Tongal has been able to conduct business as (almost) usual. We were built for virtual work and fueled by the value that is created when you connect talent and businesses that are physically removed from one another. And I’m grateful to be employing creative talent right now. Talent that is doing awesome things to help each other, like super Tongalers “Something’s Awry Productions” who released this video on how to build an at-home animation studio.

Finally, I’m grateful for everyone on the front lines, especially the guy working checkout at Whole Foods (yes, I wore the bandana) who reminded me everything is a gift in its own way. Good advice.

Nyambi Nyambi
Actor, “The Good Fight”

For me, COVID-19 has been a daily lesson in how to stay hopeful and optimistic, not only for myself but for everyone around me.

Every day I wake up to an alert on my phone from one of the many news outlets, and on cue, I immediately perk up in hopes of reading news better than it may have been the day before. They say “no news is good news,” but these days some good news is better. What I am not ready for, as my hope is challenged daily by the rising number of cases and deaths from COVID-19, are my random bouts with anxiety. Thinking of friends now lost, those who are currently battling the virus, my family and how to protect them, my own mortality, my friends and their loved ones, our communities both here and abroad.

What has helped me breathe through it all is developing a routine and setting a series of goals that will engage my mind, open the imagination, inspire laughter and thought, and ultimately creativity. I write, read comics, and sketch every day. Meditation and exercise have been a tremendous ally throughout this experience. As well as, watching movies and listening to music with my lady. I try to learn something new every day through tutorials or online classes.

I continue to support my local small businesses, doing my part to hopefully help them stay afloat. Instead of visiting my local comic book shop every Wednesday to get my haul, I now have it mailed to me. We order dinners out occasionally from the restaurants in our neighborhood. Every little bit helps.

And above all, I’m connecting with my family and friends through various online means of communication, which has proven to be an incredible healer. We’ve shared important information, our frustrations, our mental health and overall well-being, embarrassing old photos, inspiring stories that moved us to tears and a lot of laughs. We’ve done one of the most powerful things we can do for one another – listen.

I recently saw a cartoon of Superman saving lives by staying home. It is indeed the most heroic thing we can do right now to combat COVID-19. Stay home and stay connected, so that the amazing doctors and nurses who have risked their lives every day during this pandemic can do what they do best – save lives.

Claudine Cazian 
Director of Public Figures at Instagram

Much of what we do at Instagram every day begins with the actors, music artists, athletes, creators, entertainers and artists of all types that use Instagram to connect with their community. And, in the wake of coronavirus, “connection” has taken on an entirely different meaning.

It would come as no surprise to anyone that the use of Instagram has increased in the past few weeks (our Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, recently shared that the “Stay Home” sticker has been used 100 million times globally since its launch). 

The reality of that increase, though, exists in the details: it’s Miley Cyrus coming on her Instagram every Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. PT to celebrate “bright-minded stories,” and working with her fans to create the first crowd-sourced IG Live/IGTV show. Miley works with her fans to edit her Lives, create cool graphic packages and collaborate on creative in real-time, which is innovative and inspiring.

It’s Noah Centineo going Live every night at 9 p.m. PT to spotlight Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nightly addresses to the city of Los Angeles, and in my opinion, leading the conversation about what it means to be an actor meets advocate in the digital age. He also just launched @favorednations, a 501c3 that spotlights emerging initiatives through social media. 

It’s Stephen Curry using his Instagram and Facebook platforms to host a Live conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci with the intent of informing and empowering his community; that’s impact. 

When we began to see events getting postponed and canceled a few weeks ago, and as we continue to have to adjust to this “new normal,” we are consistently inspired by the ways that these public figures are sharing and showcasing care, thoughtfulness and generosity during this unprecedented time of change and uncertainty. 

As the director of Public Figures for Instagram, it brings me so much joy to see how much this platform is bringing other people joy right now. We are seeing some of the best that humanity has to offer in real time, right on social media, and I am lucky to work right in the epicenter of that. Right now, my focus is on continuing to do that work and continuing to support my team in their efforts to do that work, too. 

And as for Instagram: we’ll also continue to share resources that help our partners shape their ideas and reach their communities on our platforms, whether that’s with health tips provided by the World Health Organization, or by helping to produce a livestream on Instagram Live, or by sharing best practices on how to create a fundraiser to aid organizations who are supporting those affected by COVID-19.

Dana Perino
Fox News anchor of “The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino” and co-host of “The Five” 

Earlier this month, as schools and businesses began to close across the country, I walked to the studios at Fox News Channel in New York City without even having to look both ways when I crossed the street — there was no traffic and hardly any pedestrians either. I could even sing of my favorite country songs, “Nobody But You” by Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani out loud. No one was there to judge me!

I thought about how many families were suddenly thrust into working from home while taking care of their kids at the same time. How would they explain this new normal to their children?

I remembered how former First Lady Laura Bush encouraged families after the September 11 terrorist attacks to try to make time every day to read to children, so that they could feel safe and cared for, while instilling in them a sense of imagination and creativity.

I wondered if I could help families across the country by starting a daily storytime appointment for kids using social media. Maybe I could handle the storytime for the parents out there that had their hands full.

I’m known around the office and by our viewers as a bit of a bookworm. However, I don’t have children of my own, and I hadn’t read children’s books in many years. I wasn’t sure if I could attract an audience or hold the attention of little ones.

Yet “Storytime with Dana” was born. I’ll admit it’s a bit strange to read a children’s book and not receive instant feedback—I wonder, is this making any sense? Is this joke landing? Strange new respect for Mr. Rogers!

A few times I have recruited my husband, Peter, to read with me (his British accent is the best). And I’ve also incorporated our dog, Jasper, into the readings. He sits on a chair in our home in New Jersey and looks as if he’s paying attention (it helps that I have some treats on hand to sneak to him).

We’ve mixed it up a bit. One day we didn’t read any stories at all; instead, we did a segment I sometimes do on The Five called “Dana’s Corny Jokes.” They’re just silly riddles and Dad jokes.That was a huge hit.

Now after four weeks of hosting “Storytime “with Dana, we’re hooked and so are the viewers. While I started it on my Facebook Live, Fox News took the ball and ran with it. Now families can access storytime on foxnews.com, Fox Nation, Fox News’ YouTube channel as well as on the Fox News Facebook page. With those platforms, we have reached nearly 5 million people.

But more importantly, I especially love the feedback from viewers and comments we receive, like this one: “From my 7-year-old granddaughter, telling me what to type, ‘Thank you for reading these books. If I was there with you, I would hug you.”

I wish I could hug them, too!

Jess Wu Calder
Co-Founder Snoot Entertainment

For the production assistants who work the longest hours for the least amount of pay, they also remind us how important it is to be grateful every day of the joy and privilege we all have to tell stories for a living.

For the Transportation department, who can not only rescue a flooded basecamp within minutes, but are the backbone of a location-based shoot and the safety net behind any stage shoot. 

For the assistant directors where the grind is in their blood, they maximize every hour of a shoot day while losing their voices but never their patience… and more importantly, they make sure our crews safety is above all things including the film itself. 

For the hair and make up departments, they bring our characters to life through their artist’s hands, they also provide an emotionally safe space for actors behind the camera so that they can be comfortable being vulnerable on camera. 

For the costume department, their hands end up doing more laundry than a laundromat in an effort to keep up with darn continuity, and more impressive their tireless nimble fingers craft unforgettable wearable art. 

For the camera department, they are the toughest most bad ass dance troupe working in synchronicity to bend light and film stories for posterity. 

For the sound department, their boom operators have the tall task of being invisible while capturing every silent cry and every primal scream, and their mixers magically make airplanes, waterfalls and car traffic disappear, preserving words and creating waves of sound that embrace the audience wholly.

For the art department, where creating worlds with their bare hands is just their every day job… they’re given impossible deadlines and work long hours to make sure that on the day, that new world is ready to be filmed. 

For every member of any crew I’ve ever had the honor to work with, I know I‘m still learning every day, so thank you for your patience, your hard work and your creativity, and your blood, sweat and tears in creating not only a film but for a few short months a family. 

And families support each other. It takes OUR village. 

Donations It Takes Our Village Initiative: www.gofundme.com/ItTakesOurVillage

Erica Jong

I lost a dear friend to the virus and have written about it for Vogue online. Patricia Bosworth, actor and author was an exceptional human being.  

At the beginning of this disaster I experienced how dire things would be. Losing a friend tells you all you need to know.

My husband and I are home alone in New York. We have furloughed our housekeeper with pay. We are working remotely with our assistants, mostly by telephone and email. My husband is an attorney specialized in family law. I’m very lucky to be able to continue writing.

My daughter and grandkids are nearby but we can’t hug each other. We check in daily and they are well, thank God! I have also begun a historical novel that I will return to as soon as I have finished my autobiography which is promised to my publishers around the world.

I’m working with a wonderful woman at Sony TriStar who is determined to produce “Fear of Flying” after 47 years. Many, many directors and producers have fallen in love with my first published novel and wanted to bring it to the screen. I could write an epic about all these attempts. The story involves drug addiction in the ’70s, fear of women’s writing in the ’80s. I have often had the experience of working with wonderful women who love “Fear of Flying” and men who pull the money away right before we go into production. Let’s pray that next time we will go forward.

Coronavirus has been a blessing to my writing but a curse to our country. Der Spiegel, the German news source, writes about the fall of the U.S. as a superpower. Many journalists are concerned that the White House is occupied by a fool with no empathy. I still believe that Hillary Clinton is our real president. Were it not for election fixing, memorialized in the Mueller report, she would be doing an excellent job now. Bless all her supporters who understood the disaster we were galloping into. I hope our great country will rise again.

Marcie Allen
President and Owner MAC Presents, Co-Owner Anzie Blue 

When you have time (and let’s be honest, you might have more than usual right now), look at the balconies in Milan where people assemble en masse to sing “Amazing Grace” or play instruments in solidarity. Look at Instagram live from musicians online around the clock. Music is still saving people as it always has. The world is going online for solace, connection, and music. Soon if not now, artists will need to turn online for work. Yes, they will need to monetize their virtual shows. Touring is on hold and stadiums may not see fans in seats until 2021. It is obvious that what America (and the world) craves more than ever is music, connection, and hope. As president of MAC Presents, a music experiential agency, that has matched brands and artists for over two decades, we are actively brainstorming ways to keep the music alive and the shows coming to the ears that need them.

The sounds of quarantine are eerie in every city across America and especially daunting in New York City where deafening silence in Times Square is almost louder than the cab horns that came to a screeching halt along with the music and nearly every other industry. 

As the music industry begins its great Pivot, I sit in Nashville alongside my husband, where we recently started Anzie Blue, a new CBD line and opened a coffee and wellness shop. Nothing like opening a new store two months before the pandemic hit. Luckily, Music and CBD are more essential than ever. 

In March alone, Nashville, Tennessee experienced what can only be described as a one-two punch. What started as a severe thunderstorm warning on March 2, 2020, left most of us yawning with minimal trepidation at bedtime. A relatively routine storm cell morphed into a wicked tornado that traveled record miles and bulldozed entire Nashville area communities to shards of rubble. Lives were lost. Businesses were pummeled physically and economically. By the time the sun came up the next morning, Nashville was again lucky to find itself within the Volunteer State. All hands were on deck in Music City with sleeves rolled up around the clock in an attempt to help businesses and homeowners grieve properly, get back on their feet, and dream of a return to the new normal. We hosted a #NashvilleStrong fundraiser at Anzie Blue. People took their first deep breath in days, and then the second punch arrived. 

This pandemic is a different kind of storm–insidious and invisible and unanticipated. Musicians are entertaining from their couches at home. They are inviting fans into their inner lives now more than ever. That is a beautiful thing to behold. The sun reappeared after the tornado. It will reappear again for Americans, if we all turn to a neighbor and lend a hand, figuratively and literally. If we can find one silver lining from this period in history, it is that our health truly is our wealth.

Rob Shaftel
Founder and Executive Producer of Hit + Run

As COVID-19 began to spread, I was on location in Tennessee scouting for a series in pre-production. I returned home from my trip on March 10 and was only slated to be home for a few days before hitting the road again for a shoot in Hawaii with one of my showrunners. As the seriousness of the situation escalated, I was faced with a decision to either continue with our plan to shoot or stay home and come up with an alternative to keep our production on track. Ultimately, we decided to stay with our families, and I closed our production offices indefinitely.

In unscripted television, it’s our job to document real people in extraordinary situations. By nature, we often don’t know what’s going to happen next, which presents an array of production challenges. Ultimately, our teams are built to clear creative and logistical obstacles to turn out a strong end product. Over the last month, I have had to acknowledge that this virus goes beyond your typical production hurdle. 

As a business owner, I must consider what is precious within my company and what I must preserve at all costs during this unprecedented time. The human element and the emotional connectivity of what we do as producers is invaluable. In an era where we have so little control over vast aspects of our lives, I am working to preserve this through efforts I can meaningfully impact. That includes keeping teams engaged with ideation-focused and forward-thinking directives, establishing digital frameworks that foster team bonding, working with networks who share and support our company values, and communicating transparently with employees about the state of our business and projects.

At the end of the day, it’s okay that production has been put on a brief pause because the heart of the company goes far beyond the delivery of shows. It’s the talent, skills, emotion and creative collaboration that are and will always be the driving force.

Colby Gaines
Executive Producer and Founder of Back Roads Entertainment

Isolation schooling. Isolation working. Isolation drinking. THIS is my new normal. Monday through Friday, our three kids – aged 10, 8 and 5 – all have Zoom time with their teachers. I have Zoom time with staff and networks. And on the weekends, I’ve started having Zoom drinks with friends – a good whiskey and one of those online trivia party games can keep your mind off the news, for a few minutes.

The good news is I’m getting about 10,000 steps in a day while on the phone. The bad news is I’m having to throttle the mute button between pitching and parenting. My company Back Roads Entertainment is in full development mode, discussing hit show concepts daily with buyers. Some are asking for shows that can be produced under pandemic conditions, i.e.,  self-shot. Some are just asking for their next hit. But seemingly many aren’t buying at all… they’re just trying to sort out the wreckage this virus is creating on their business.

We’ve pushed the start of production on one series twice already and are now planning for a late summer start. Hopefully that sticks. I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. It’s disabling and it’s polarizing. And yet, I know it’s not unfounded.

In a world without a vaccine though, we are all likely at some point soon going to have to as safely as possible attempt to get back into production. No network can exist indefinitely without new shows. No company can develop indefinitely without a greenlight. And no creative person can thrive indefinitely off of Zoom! 

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t see a complex dating show happening out of the gate. And I also won’t advocate anything for my employees that I won’t do myself – and that means we need to have as safe a working environment as possible.

We all have courage. Soon we’re going to have to show it by getting back into the act of making stuff people want to watch – for God’s sake, I need something to wipe my brain clear of Joe Exotic.

Teddy Grennan
Filmmaker and founder of the Sun Valley Film Festival

In late February as we were gearing up for the Sun Valley Film Festival in the “country” of Idaho, the virus which had invaded the news, seemed like an unlikely threat to our valley. If you’ve read the many articles about the area you might now know that the town, per capita, is the, or one of the highest concentrations of COVID in America- which now means, the world. 

We were in full launch mode for our ninth annual film festival and the emails, texts and calls kept coming in asking whether we were going to cancel. The festival has a very large economic impact in the valley, requires ten and half months of planning, lots of other people’s money, films, filmmakers, travel, sponsors, local businesses counting on us, so many people had volunteered, venues and signed contracts. There was so much on the line…there was no way the festival wasn’t happening. FULL STEAM AHEAD. 

And then the COVID symptoms we had been reading about appeared around town. I can’t explain why I was so naive, or so totally clueless, but to contract what so many are now suffering from just didn’t seem like an issue. Wash your hands. Stay away from people. Easy. I always head straight to the bathroom to wash my hands after returning the menu to the waiter. I used an extra napkin to cover the ketchup bottle…and then I got a headache: a grating on par with the sound of a connecting fax machine.

Idaho was one of the last places to be recognized as having the virus but it had been there for a long time. We canceled the filmmakers’ flights, all of the lodgings for our special guests, endured emails and social postings from many who were outraged by how long it was taking us to shut down, told our partners that we’d be back for our 10th anniversary in 2021 and I headed home to Virginia. 

I got worse. The cough was incessant. My night sweats and the headache…but it was the shortness of breath which made me think there actually might be something wrong. I felt vulnerable and began to wonder, with or without Corona, this has got to be much worse for a lot of other people—not being able to draw a full breath? And all the while I thought it was pneumonia. Denial, total dumb-assness, guilty for sure but it still didn’t seem possible at the time. It was all very possible to my wife, Emily Granville, and I had a doctor’s appointment within 24 hours of returning. They weren’t doing many tests at the time but my symptoms were so exaggerated and after failing the flu test, they took another prolonged Q-Tip and shoved it further up my nose than I knew was possible, and I tested positive. 

The Virginia State Health Department mandated a quarantine period for our kids (Emily tacked on an extra week) and we answered questions for two days. Now the government’s funding a race for the cure and a lot of companies are looking for people who have contracted the virus. One of them comes to our house this week to draw blood and hopefully they’ll discover antibodies that can be used to battle what looks so much different than it did in late February. 

Chef Massimo

As Executive Chef at Rosewood Miramar Beach, my favorite weekly ritual is going to the Montecito farmer’s market. I have been lucky to work in some beautiful and unique places in the world, but there is a magic to Montecito and its abundance of seasonal produce and incredible local farmers and fishmongers. At the farmer’s market I would almost always find a new source of inspiration and return to the resort with a fresh and creative idea to serve our guests.

When you’re a chef, you find joy and passion in providing for others and you continue to find ways to do so even in the most difficult of circumstances. As soon as we closed our dining outlets at the resort for in-restaurant dining, I knew that we needed to use our skills for good. My colleagues and I re-purposed our beachside service food truck and introduced #MiramarOnTheMove, a food delivery service that began as our way of providing complimentary meals to our frontline essential workers and first responders in Montecito and Santa Barbara.  

We began with operating the truck from Monday through Friday, visiting the Montecito Post Office, San Ysidro Pharmacy, Montecito Fire Department, Vons Pharmacy on Coast Village Road and American Riviera Bank Montecito Branch, among others. Now we are preparing and delivering fresh lunches during the week to those in the care of the Santa Barbara Mental Wellness Center and United Way Santa Barbara, as well as delivering canned goods to local animal shelters and providing families in need with essential care supplies.

Beyond the food truck, our team at the resort spent last week carefully preparing Easter meals and baskets to go. We were thrilled by the response from families who ordered the baskets for their celebrations at home. And we’re now turning our attention toward Mother’s Day and in addition to taking orders, we are donating 50 special meals to mothers who work as first responders and health care professionals.  These women are our heroes and we’re proud to thank them for their efforts and bring a bit of joy to their families in a way that’s safe and convenient for them.

It’s an honor to support those in need during these difficult times, to continue to serve this community and to do what we can until the day we can meet in the farmer’s market again.

Lisa Vidal 
Actress, “The Baker and the Beauty”

I’ve just spent five months in Puerto Rico shooting my new show “The Baker and the Beauty.” We survived earthquakes, illnesses and heart attacks during production! In search of some calm, I had an entire agenda of what I was going to do when I came home to California. Then the coronavirus hit us and everything came to a halt. 

Be still… be still. That is what all of this is teaching me. I tend to be a person who is constantly on the go and thinking about the next thing I’m going to be doing or working on. Relaxation just isn’t usually on the top of my list. Wow! I certainly am enjoying relaxation! Every day I wake up and I’m thankful. I’m grateful for the time that I’m getting to spend on my family and those things that I never made time for it before. God works in mysterious ways! I have learned I must take it one day at a time… thinking about how I would like to spend the next 24 hours of my day. I’ve been safely bicycle riding with my daughter, going on long walks with my husband, face timing with my college-age son in Florida and my family in NY, cleaning my house and getting rid of everything that’s been expired and sitting around collecting dust. It’s been really cleansing! In addition to household chores, I am enjoying one of my much-loved hobbies which is cooking! My family and I are certainly reaping the rewards of that, while gaining a little extra on the side, the back and many other hidden places! You never know when you’ll need it! Luckily for me though my other favorite hobby is to dance! Yep, cooking and dancing are two of my favorite things that go together well! It brings me joy, and joy is contagious! 

Speaking of joy. I’m excited for people to see “The Baker and the Beauty.” It’s such a feel-good heartwarming and funny show for the whole family.  In a time like this, I try not to dwell on the negative or else I will drive myself crazy. I love to post and watch happy videos and real moments in my home so that others can relate and feel like they’re not alone. I look forward to what this moment is teaching all of us. For me, I am learning more and more to live in the moment, to enjoy the present and to not worry, just trust, trust the process and the replenishing and refreshing of humanity. I’m also praying and reflecting for those who have lost loved ones due to this pandemic.

I’ve also been working with the American Cancer Society and brainstorming ways on how I can be more helpful to cancer survivors and those going through treatment and changes in their lives. I am a breast cancer survivor and have endured a double mastectomy. It changed my life in many ways and I feel there’s a lot I can offer as far as information and experience that I think many people can find relatable. We must not forget to be empathic towards those who are continuing to endure these kinds of hardships. I am also thinking about the children and families in need. It’s really about spreading love in all ways possible in these times.  

I am so forever grateful and aware of our heroes who are out there risking their own lives to help those in need and all those people who never received the accolades and the applause they deserve for doing the mundane things that we all take for granted and yet are so necessary and important!  God bless all of them and I truly hope that when we come out of this we will not go back, but that we go forward, remembering and never forgetting what this experience has taught us and how it has changed us.

Laura Prepon
Actress and Author “You and I, as Mothers: A Raw and Honest Guide to Motherhood”

We have a newborn at home. He came right before the lockdown happened. We were already planning on having this bonding time with our family and knew I was going to be doing a book tour soon after his arrival. So, we had already planned on being isolated at home together as a family. We had everything set up for my maternity leave.

It’s so crazy how everything happened the way it did where now we’re having to socially distance and hunker down for a very different reason.

I’m so grateful my son came when he did because I have friends going into labor where their partners aren’t even allowed into the hospital. We are very fortunate in that regard. 

We’re trying to find levity where we can and it helps that my husband is the funniest person I know. We’re staying informed and we try to balance that out with making sure our children feel safe and secure.

These are unprecedented times and I’m so grateful that the response to my book has been so positive. People are saying how it has been providing them a sense of community during a time of separation.

My book is not just for mothers, many people are getting things out of it as I write about anxiety, loss of control, self-care, stress reduction techniques, among many others, and all these things are relatable to what we are currently going through. Just watching the news spikes my stress levels.

At the end of every chapter, I ask the reader questions so they can reflect on their own lives and so it feels more like a dialogue. I’m so fortunate and blessed to have readers say it’s speaking to them. 

I’m all about community right now and like to support this cause, Baby 2 Baby.

Chris Sullivan
Actor, “This is Us”

The thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few weeks is what it’s going to be like to bring a child into this world – we’re expecting our first child in July.

I’ve had a lot of time to be with my wife; to watch her belly grow and to prepare the nursery. I’ve had time to sit and contemplate what type of world I want to make for my son, at least in regards to his immediate environment.

 The nursery is the room we have designated for our virtual couples and individual therapy. To do that type of spiritual and emotional housekeeping, in the room where our son will sleep, brings a complicated and deep woven joy. To experience that joy in such a tragic time filled with death, fear and economic collapse creates a profound set of ups and downs.

It’s been a time to let go of useless things and dispose of things that no longer serve us. We’ve been going room to room, cleaning things out; emptying closets and drawers. In this way, it has also been an exercise in going to different parts of my heart and mind to investigate which thought patterns and stories are holding me back. It’s time to let go of those too.

When this is all over will we remember the lessons learned, if we learned anything at all? How long will we continue to greet strangers on the street? How long will we check in on our elderly neighbors? How long will we ask almost everyone we encounter, “How are you holding up?” 

All of this wondering about what will happen tomorrow; what will happen a month from now, isn’t helpful for me.  

This time of quarantine is an exercise in coming back to the present moment. Over and over and over again. If I think about the past, I eventually find myself in regret and if I project into the future, I wind up in anxiety. I experience regret and anxiety because I can’t change the past or control the future and I desperately wish to do both. 

The only place I find calm is in this moment and the only thing I have control over is my breath.

We have never been so abruptly reminded of how lucky we are to be healthy. It’s not easy to express gratitude for each and every breath we take.

I work with To Write Love on Her Arms which is meant to connect people who are struggling and dealing with depression and suicide. It provides resources for people to connect and scholarships for people who can’t afford therapy. I believe and TWLOHA believes… You were created to love and be loved. People need other people. Your story is important. Better days are ahead. Hope and help are real.

If you are hurting or lonely; regretting the past or dreading the future, reach out. Ask for help. You will find connection.

Anthony Hamilton

Until I’m able to go out and meet people again, I’ll continue to make music and share it this way.

It’s been so powerful that you forget there is a pandemic going on. I thought about just sharing something that would bless the people. I talked to my manager Eli about performing. My doctor said it would be good for my spirit to do it. 

The spirits at the beginning of this was all about people wondering how they’d protect their kids and pay their bills, so this was something that would take their minds off things for a few minutes.

I saw DNice spinning and he’d have 50,000 people tuning in. He shouted me out a few times and seeing that caliber of people needing music was so powerful. 

I’ve worked with Global Citizen who give back. I’ve worked with Music Cares who make sure that musicians and people like myself get a chance to pay their bills. 

When I started there were 50,000 people and when I finished I had already reached 80,000. People were taking to music with a cause. It was a blessing. Not only was I pouring to them, but they were also pouring back to me.

This thing has made people take time to pay attention to what’s important and to slow down. It’s made people have a good evening at home and just listen to good music.

Jessie Barr
Director, co-writer, producer of “Sophie Jones”

Welp, it feels like we are all experiencing collective trauma, some global experience of grief and fear and it’s definitely been overwhelming. These past two weeks have been full of everything life is full of, intense suffering and intense beauty. It’s also been a time of major discovery. I’ve discovered I am in love with the Cuomo brothers and that Cardi B is the only person I want to receive news from. I’ve discovered that everything is and always has been uncertain and I never had any f—ing control ever and no one really does and that’s a powerful truth to step into. My trauma response is staying action-oriented and creating but I’ve also fully found myself crying in my bathtub on the phone to my brother while I spiral into self-pity and laughing with my husband so hard that I pee because a squirrel keeps trying to sneak into our kitchen. I’ve searched for patterns to make surgical masks and danced like a freak virtually with Ryan Heffington and five thousand other humans on his Instagram live. I’ve had zoom dates with high school friends I hadn’t spoken to in ten years, one of whom is locked down in Rome and talking to her felt like looking into the future. I’ve taught yoga classes from my living room and tried to arrange PPE pickups for hospitals in LA while freaking out about how to pay rent, buy groceries and stock up on birth control. I’ve talked to my mom about her will and my brother about how he’s playing “Doom” imagining the demons he’s fighting are actually the senators who dumped their stocks but think $600 is enough for working people to live on. 

I feel lucky to be alive and healthy right now. I try to do what I can each day and be gentle with myself and with other people. I’m afraid for my sister who is a DR in a hospital in North Carolina. She’s working nights and we haven’t been able to speak very much. She’s having to reuse face masks. I’m afraid for my friends who work in VA hospitals, neither of whom have sufficient PPE either. One sent me a photo of a single box of Clorox wipes that all the offices at her VA hospital have to share. It puts things into perspective. My first feature film, “Sophie Jones” was set to premiere at Portland International Film Festival 2020 on March 13th. I was set to fly to Portland on March 11th. Then things all fell apart. Like many other filmmakers our premiere was canceled and other screenings and festivals have been postponed indefinitely. I was devastated initially. Health is the most important thing, our lives and the safety of everyone is the most vital thing but I also know how painful it is to work for years and will a film into existence against all odds only to feel overwhelmed by what is happening right now. There is this fear that your heart, your film, your story and art will never be shared and might be forgotten. But we just have to keep going. Right now I’m writing two feature scripts and trying to save my film, Sophie Jones. I’m watching Dominga Sotomayor Castillo’s  “Too Late to Die Young” and also John Hamburg’s “Along Came Polly.” I’m checking in on friends and family and trying to figure out filing for unemployment. I’m trying to be useful and connect to things that make me feel alive. Right now connecting with stories that are vivifying and full of hope helps me. I hope my film will be that spark for others, someday.