July 8, 2022 – Yolonda Ross goes all out when she learns she’s a single mom on Showtime’s critically acclaimed series Chi Have breast cancer.
In Season 4, Episode 7, Ross, who plays Jada, shaved his long hair hair In front of the camera, bringing to life the very real struggles her character — and the actual breast cancer patient — faced before it started breast cancer treatment.
“When I found out my character was going to have cancer, one of the things I said was I didn’t want it to be TV or movie cancer,” said Ross, 47, also a writer, former Netflix director and activist get offABC’s How to get away with murder and Denzel Washington’s Antwan Fisher, To name just a few of her roles.
“I didn’t want to just put a scarf on my head and suddenly I had cancer. It was such a big moment,” she said.
Ross’ preparation for the role began off-camera.She researched organizations on Chicago’s South Side, such as equal hopeThis Tatisa C. Joiner Foundationand Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET), all of which are helping black women with breast cancer. It was then that she began to understand the health disparities faced by black women with breast cancer.
“I want to sit down with women who have had cancer or are having cancer,” she said. “Meeting with them exceeded my expectations. They touched me more than I expected.”
On the emotional side Chest Cancer is especially meaningful to Ross.
“Someone talks about cancer because someone is going through it, and then someone talks about it being a black man going through cancer,” she said. “We don’t talk about things as they are. So that’s another thing we need to do to get over any stigma. Talking about emotions and talking about health can help, especially since that’s a lot of the problem with getting some of our care. When we feel something is not right, we don’t talk about it, which keeps us from getting the care we need.”
Rose continues to connect with women in the Chicago area who are undergoing cancer treatment and with the leaders of each organization, even after the season begins.
“I learned how some organizations can help breast cancer prevention Some people are helping to change the structure of the hospital so that when they see a brown woman come in, they don’t get into a certain mindset and insist on the work they’re supposed to be doing with her,” she said.
Making people aware of the existence of these health care groups is another huge goal of hers.
“Some of these groups are nearby,” she said. “Two women out the door probably didn’t even know that. She had breast cancer and didn’t know this organization was out there and could help her. That’s what I really wanted to help.”
It wasn’t long before the actor was asked to take on a larger role at each nonprofit.
“They’ll have events and they’ll ask me if I’d like to attend,” she said. “It’s that simple. I got to know each organization and became a part of them very quickly.”
Her advocacy eventually inspired a $100,000 donation from the Feinberg Foundation, which was then awarded to these Chicago grassroots organizations, and last October, she co-chaired the beauty is me, a photo exhibition and fundraiser, where she unveiled five of her portraits of breast cancer survivors. Then, in May, she was honored by the Creative Alliance for her advocacy work.
Using her platform to help others is a no-brainer, Rose said.
“I know I’m not the biggest star, but I believe that if something is enough for you to talk about it, why not use your platform to help others,” she said. “I know women of color are fighting this fight, and if I could say something or do something to help light up these organizations or these doctors or find a way for people to help, I’m going to, this is the way to go Always be a part of my life.”