Why actress Elizabeth Perkins believes in Co-Stars

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012

•• Many of you know Elizabeth Perkins as the talented actress from crowd-favorites like Big, The Flintstones, Miracle on 34th Street, and of course, Weeds, but did you know she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005? Elizabeth’s passion for diabetes advocacy and awareness is unyielding, which is why Sanofi US is proud to have her on board on Diabetes Co-Stars campaign!

Q: You’ve starred in major films and TV shows and are currently working on the upcoming TV show How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life). When did you first become interested in acting?
A: I have wanted to be an actress for as long as I can remember! I studied acting at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago before I traveled to New York in the early 1980’s to pursue my career. I’ve been in the business ever since and it’s been a wonderful, exciting and creative experience.

Q: What has been your favorite role to play thus far and why?
A: I’ve enjoyed every role that I’ve played throughout my career. From Wilma in The Flintstones, to playing opposite of Tom Hanks in Big and then venturing into television on the Showtime series, Weeds. Every character taught me something new and special. I am also very excited about my role in the upcoming show, How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) which is scheduled to air on ABC in Spring 2013.

Q: While many people know you for your acting talents, they may not know that you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005. Can you tell us a little about how your life has changed since then?
A: When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I only shared it with my closest family and friends. I was filming the television series Weeds, so in the beginning I would test my blood glucose and take my medication alone in my trailer. With the encouragement of my friends and family, I sat down with my doctor to talk about how I could improve my overall diabetes management while on set. In addition to treatment, my doctor and I worked out a diet and exercise plan that fits my busy schedule. Now I keep diabetes-friendly foods in my trailer and remember to take a nice long walk with my husband Julio and our dogs when I get home. It helps serve as both exercise and as a calming, stress reliever.Q: From what I hear, filming schedules for movies and TV can be pretty grueling at times. What sort of precautions do you take to ensure cast and crew members understand your diabetes needs when filming?
A: Initially, I kept it a secret, which was a total mistake. Now I reach out to my support system if I need help and everyone is so encouraging and understanding of my needs. They always include diabetes-friendly snacks on set for me! It’s very helpful to have a supportive team.

Q: Speaking of support systems, you’ve recently partnered with Sanofi US on the Diabetes Co-Stars campaign. Can you tell us a little about the initiative and why it’s important to you?
A: I partnered with Sanofi US on this initiative so I can share my story and help show everyone the value of a strong support system. For my personal diabetes management, a strong support system means everything. When I reached out to them for help after my diagnosis, we bonded more as a family. We now cook diabetes-friendly meals and go on walks together to help me manage my diabetes. My family has provided the support and encouragement that I need throughout my entire diabetes journey.

Q: Who is your Diabetes Co-Star? What role do they play in your life?
A: My husband Julio is my Diabetes Co-Star. He’s played such an instrumental role in my overall diabetes journey and I could not be more grateful. His encouragement has helped me make the necessary changes in my life to improve my diabetes management. For example, Julio joined me when I talked to my doctor about which foods are best for my diet. Now, Julio and I enjoy cooking diabetes-friendly meals together that the whole family can enjoy.

Q: As part of the Diabetes Co-Stars initiative, there is a casting call where users can nominate their Diabetes Co-Star. There is also a very exciting opportunity for the winners of the casting call. Can you share with us what that is?
A: Yes, absolutely! The winners of the nationwide Diabetes Co-Stars casting call contest will be featured in a new documentary film that I am producing about what it’s really like to live with diabetes and the power of support. It’s a way to say “thank you” to all the Diabetes Co-Stars out there and to inspire others living with diabetes to reach out for support or to offer their support to a loved one. The documentary is set to premiere in 2013. Submitting for a chance to win is very simple. To enter just go to the Diabetes Co-Stars website and share your story about the power of support by December 16, 2012. We will announce the winners on January 15. So, stay tuned!

Q: Do you have any advice for those that have recently been diagnosed with diabetes?
A: I encourage everyone living with diabetes to reach out to their friends and family for support. It’s also important to sit down with your doctor to talk about how you can better improve your blood sugar control. If possible, take a friend or family member with you to the doctor’s office so you can learn about managing diabetes together. I found this to be very helpful and encouraging! I know it can sometimes be hard to admit you need help, but it’s a great first step toward better managing your condition.