Summer 2011

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From left, panel moderator J.J. Abrams, First Lady Michelle Obama, Air Force National Guard Capt. Kelly Smith, retired Army sergeant Bobby Jarman and military wife Arnita Brigham Moore. First Lady, Entertainment IndustryJoin Forces were military wife Arnita Brigham Moore, Air Force National Guard Capt. Kelly Smith and Bobby Jarman, a retired Army sergeant. The panel was moderated by producer, writer and director J.J. Abrams. Obama said she became aware of Michelle Obama F came to Beverly Hills June 13 to enlist the entertainment industry to help her spread the word about the needs of military families. The event, Joining Forces: Taking Action to Serve America's Military Families, was the result of a collaboration of Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America, West and took place at the WGA Theater. Along with Obama, the event showcased a panel of service members and their families, who discussed the hardships of trying to have a normal family life while a family member is deployed. Onstage 28 SCREEN ACTOR - Summer 2011 irst Lady the hardships military families face while on the campaign trail during her husband's run for president. The stories she heard of husbands and wives trying to maintain a career, raise the kids, stay healthy and manage money in the midst of the disruption caused by deployments, touched her deeply. "I didn't come from a military background; [I] didn't know many people in the military," she said. "These stories took my breath away." Together with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, she started Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative to draw attention to the needs of military families and create a deeper connection between these families and the public. In addition, Joining Forces seeks to rally businesses, nonprofits and faith-based institutions to deploy their resources in support of service members and their families. "This isn't about politics. This isn't about blue or red," Obama said. "This is about making sure that these families feel like everyone in this country understands their sacrifice, appreciates it and we're all doing our part to step up." Obama's central message was to ask the audience of writers, actors, producers and directors to help spread awareness of the challenges faced by military families. She encouraged those in the entertainment industry to do more to weave these issues into the storylines of the movies and television shows they create, and thanked those who have already done so. Popular entertainment is the perfect way to get the word out, she said, since the industry's master storytellers are able to present the information in memorable and compelling ways. Academy Award-winning writer and director Geoffrey Fletcher, whose father served in the U.S. Marines and the Navy, agreed that the industry should do its part. "If you look around this room, we are all storytellers," he said. "It is our turn to answer the call." Co-hosting the event was a natural fit for SAG, which has long had a strong connection to service members and their families, from encouraging members to support the war effort in World War II to SAG members and elected officers visiting the troops in Vietnam and the Middle East (see page 30). Plenty of recognizable faces attended the event, including Blair Hemera Technologies Michael Jones

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