PROFILES OF HOPE 2013:  MARIEL HEMINGWAY

By Karen Zarsadiaz-Ige, LACDMH Public Information Officer II

The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s (LACDMH) Public Information Office (PIO) has taped its second profile in the continuing Emmy Award-winning series, Profiles of Hope.  This latest profile spotlights actress, model and writer Mariel Hemingway at her home near Calabasas.

The Profiles of Hope series is made up of 10-minute inspirational stories, featuring individuals who share how they overcame stigma and various obstacles to eventually lead them to a road of Hope, Wellness and Recovery.  This latest round is being produced, along with the Free Your Mind Projects Radio Show, as part of an anti-stigma and social inclusion campaign to create awareness, education and discussion about mental health.

Most people are familiar with Mariel Hemingway because of her connection to legendary author Ernest Hemingway as one of his granddaughters.  Mariel Hemingway is known for her own career as an actress who started at the young age of 13 in the movie Lipstick.  She was nominated for an Oscar in the Woody Allen film Manhattan.  She has since been in several films and has made numerous television appearances.

Hemingway is an outspoken advocate for mental health.  She even produced her own powerful documentary, detailing her personal story, called Running from Crazy.  Shown at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it shows her journey to find answers to the mental health challenges her family endured in dealing with substance use, mental illness and seven suicides.

During the taping, Hemingway spoke not only about her own story of hope, wellness and recovery but also shared her on-going passion for balanced health and well-being which led her to publish a memoir, cookbook and how-to guide on finding balance and health.  Her most recent work, The Willingway, is a collaborative project with her partner, Bobby Williams.  Together, they have published a book on living simply, eating healthy and connecting with nature.

In the interview, Hemingway told her story of growing up in Idaho with her family who never really spoke about the mental health issues that close relatives faced, including her own grandfather and actress/model sister, Margaux.  “I lived with a family, in the end of a generation, that didn’t speak about those things… because there was so much shame.” 

Years later, she discovered that being open about it helped her understand her family’s situation more and eventually heal from it.  “I was always ‘running from crazy’.  I truly felt that I’ve broken the family curse,” she explained.  And breaking that curse meant talking about it and acknowledging it.  “I get more healing by expressing… Keep talking about it, keep expressing, the more you’ll heal.”

Hemingway encourages others to find the courage to talk about mental illness.  “That’s the most important thing is not to be isolated… I want people to have the courage to talk about it.”

The actress, model and author not only taped a Profiles of Hope segment but also a public service announcement (PSA) for LACDMH. 

The Profiles of Hope segment and the PSA, both featuring Mariel Hemingway, will debut in late spring on the local PBS station (KLCS-TV), the County Channel and the LACDMH YouTube and Facebook pages.