Bern Nadette Stanis won our hearts playing Thelma Evans on the first African American sitcom, “Good Times.” Her wittiness and warmth are still in our hearts and today this savvy actress is as vibrant as she was in the 1970s.
Adding author, artist and motivational speaker to her list of credits, she travels the world serving as an ambassador and a national spokesperson for Alzheimer’s disease education. Stanis has participated as a Celebrity Champion in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and has been broadcast on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” as an advocate for Alzheimer’s awareness. She participated in the 2010 Rose Bowl, appearing on a float called The Boomer Express, as the Alzheimer’s Association Celebrity Champion.
Recently, she penned The Last Night: A Caregiver’s Journey, which profiles the walk of a loving daughter with a beloved mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is no stranger to Stanis, who cared for her own mother, Eula Stanislaus, who was stricken with the illness.
“I am a champion for Alzheimer’s because I lost my mom to the disease in 2011. Considering I didn’t really understand it; I didn’t understand what I was in for, or what my mother was in for. I thought we could do vitamins, coconut oil and exercise and we could beat this thing. Unfortunately, there is no cure. I am going to champion this cause for the rest of my life, nonstop. It took my mother’s life,” she says passionately.
In Atlanta this weekend, Stanis is hosting the Remembering the GoodTimes Foundation Gala touted as a high profile evening of education, entertainment, and enlightenment. Starting at 6 o’clock in the evening, the event commences with purple carpet arrivals followed by “Snap for a Cause,” where guests will be able to take pictures with celebrities. It will culminate with the off-Broadway production of Willie and Esther, a “funny” play starring Stanis and Jeris Lee Poindexter.
Stanis will also showcase 22 pieces of her own art. “I am an artist. It is another chapter in my life I am exploring. People are asking, ‘When can I buy the painting?’ [and] ‘Are you going to do [this and that] for me?’ I know this is going to be a fantastic venture for me.”
How did Stanis discover she had a penchant for art?
“It went along with my dancing. Ever since I was a little girl, I was always drawing, dreaming and writing poetry. I painted a very beautiful painting when I was 14. I still have it. I didn’t realize I had the talent. My mother did and she told me, ‘You paint so beautifully.’ I painted for her.”
The Remembering the GoodTimes Foundation Gala will be held Saturday, April 19 at the Rialto Center for the Arts located at 80 Forsyth St., NW Atlanta, GA, 30303.