Industry leaders gathered on Thursday afternoon for the first-ever Hollywood & Mind Summit, where several speakers and artists zoomed in on the intersection of mental health and entertainment. The daylong summit, held at the UTA campus in Beverly Hills, sparked conversations about how the film, TV, music and technology industries can work to break stigmas around mental health.
Guest speakers Percy “Master P” Miller, Carmela Wallace (mother of Jarad “Juice WRLD” Higgins), and Robin Williams’ son Zak Williams – each of whom has suffered tragic family loss due to mental health crises – came together for a moving discussion. In a panel, “Turning Pain Into Purpose Through the Lens of Celebrities,” moderated by The Hollywood Reporter’s editor-in-chief Nekesa Mumbi Moody, the talk explored each of the panelists’ experiences with tragedy, as well as how their own healing journeys have inspired them to serve others.
“Helping others helps me,” said Wallace. “Knowing that I have a purpose and that I’m carrying on my son’s legacy helps me through the healing process.”
Reflecting on the difficulty of losing his daughter to substance abuse in 2022, Miller agreed. “I turn my pain into a goal,” said the rapper and entrepreneur. “I want to be that parachute for other families. That’s how I’m going to heal. My life is no longer about being an entrepreneur or being successful, it’s about being of service.”
Miller is an ambassador for NAMI – the National Alliance on Mental Illness. After struggling with addiction, Wallace’s son Juice WRLD passed away in 2019 at the age of 21, just a few years after skyrocketing to music fame. Soon after, Wallace founded Live Free 999, a mental health advocacy organization to provide support programs, financial grants, and contributions to the ongoing conversation about mental health and addiction.
“In this industry, I felt like an outsider because it was so new to me,” Wallace reflected on her son’s rise to stardom. “I felt alone and I felt like I couldn’t really help him the way I wanted to.” In offering her perspective on preventing addiction in Hollywood, the nonprofit’s founder shared that “it would be nice for the industry to have a guide or support for families, for people new to the industry.”
After losing his father to suicide, Williams founded PYM (Prepare Your Mind), an organization dedicated to providing mental hygiene products to promote self-care and reduce stigma.
“I want to help people understand that service is a path to happiness and healing,” Williams said. “Once you have (that), no one can ever stop you. They can take everything from you. They still can’t stop you. You are an unstoppable force, and that cannot be stressed enough. Law practice makes you unstoppable.”
“It takes more than one person to help with this,” Miller added. “Together we are stronger.”
Later in the day, Demi Lovato joined the summit for a chat with Hollywood & Mind founder Cathy Applefeld Olson, in which they discussed Lovato’s own mental health struggles, and her journey to help others who may be going through similar events. “That’s part of why I’ve decided to be open about my challenges,” Lovato said. “I wanted to be honest with my fans because I knew that if someone was going through a tough time, they could use that honesty as an inspiration.”