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BWR Public Relations co-founder Nanci Ryder may have lost the ability to speak due to ALS, but she hasn’t stopped communicating.
Standing on the blue carpet at the July 14 premiere of Open Road and Amazon Studios’ documentary Gleason — a look at how ALS has affected the life of former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason — Ryder used her digital Boogie Board to pen a simple message to the crush of photographers: “I know how Renee feels.”
But Ryder wasn’t saying she sympathized with former client and longtime friend Renee Zellweger after Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman penned a much-maligned essay about female appearance and aging. Instead, Ryder was remarking on her own move from the background to the spotlight as she raises awareness and funds to fight ALS. THR has learned that Zellweger recently joined Ryder for an exclusive tour of the ALS Research Program at USC’s Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.
Ryder teamed with former client and longtime friend Courteney Cox, Maria Bello and Nick Cannon to host the L.A. Live screening, which was presented in association with JPMorgan Chase & Co. And despite the emotional subject matter, the film’s director, Clay Tweel, told THR that the message of the film is to focus on the positive.
“Always try to keep your eye on doing what you love with the people you love. No matter how hard things get, maintain some sense of hope,” he said. “That’s the only thing that will get us through.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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