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It was a night to give back for stars such as Lizzy Caplan, Michael Pena, Yvette Nicole Brown and Topher Grace, who all participated in the 8th Annual Reel Stories, Real Lives event, hosted by Awkwafina, on Monday night at the Directors Guild of America headquarters to benefit the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
The MPTF provides a wide range of services for members of the entertainment community including childcare, wellness programs and helping people navigate complex insurance issues.
Caplan spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why this was a special night for her: “I think this is one of the few truly kind, nice, faultless things our business does. We’re constantly competing with each other, and it’s nice to be reminded that when the stuff hits the fan, we’re actually do show up for each other.”
Following a cocktail hour, guests filled the DGA Theater where they heard stars such as Pena and Caplan each read a true story about a member of the entertainment community that had been helped in some way by the MPTF. The stories were written by acclaimed writers including Lindsey Beer, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, John Hoffman, Chris Nee and Billy Ray.
Brown told the story of Stacy Title, a director and writer who was diagnosed with ALS in 2017. The MPTF provided her with the expensive medical equipment she needs to live with the disease and empowered her to continue her directing career even while confined to a wheelchair.
Brown spoke to THR about why she felt it was important to be a passionate supporter of the MPTF. “I’m one of those people who believe that when you’ve been blessed you’re supposed to give back,” she said. “We did this day of service and we went to an elderly actress’ house and we lowered all of the bars in her closet and we put in a ramp. It’s little things like that that mean a lot when you can’t do it yourself. So just think of it as a lifeline when it comes to everything you may need. If you fall on hard times, the MPTF is there.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg, who sits on the MPTF’s board of directors, was in attendance with his wife Marilyn, and he told THR why he thought the MPTF was such an essential organization in Hollywood: “I’ve been proudly associated with the MPTF for more than three decades, and I think it’s only growing in its importance and its value to the movie and television community. This is a $125 million a year organization with 60,000 engagements with individuals every year. It’s in service of 450,000 people, so I don’t think people know or appreciate enough how many people’s lives it touches and how many people’s lives it makes better, and that’s why I’m so proud of it.”
Following the live readings, guests returned to the DGA lobby, where they enjoyed coffee and a dessert bar with mini-cupcakes and Rocky Road bars and received small gifts from sponsors Porsche and Med Men.