“I love Empire and I even tweeted ‘Our fearless leader Ilene Chaiken! Everyone will be in great hands.’ Of course I love Lee Daniels,” Pam said. “They were trying to reach me not too long ago but I was trying to deal with family issues. It just wasn’t appropriate to talk about, you know, television successes and all of it that goes with it. My family came first. So I don’t know [if I’ll get the chance to appear] and if I’m never on it, it’s OK because it’s just a delight. I hope it has legs to tell a lot of stories about the music industry. With Ilene and Lee and so many people, it’ll open the door for so many great writers who were on The L Word. We had tremendous writers and producers so every opportunity opens the door for hundreds more.”
Pam has had to turn down a few other roles (including one alongside Halle Barry on Extant) to take care of some things at home, but she’s still an avid TV watcher who is thrilled to see the progress being made for minorities on the small screen.
“I’m recording many shows and I can’t watch them all!” she said. “It’s just enlightening and I’m euphoric over the roles and and storylines, the challenges and there’s not a lot of fear-mongers. It’s just wonderful. You’re creating an audience. When you build a brand, you build your audience—that producer, that brand is going to bring us a good story and let us make a decision about how we feel about it.”
Pam said that when she does take roles, she won’t do a “redundant storyline” (“I’m not gonna do it. I look for stories that can really open the heart.”) and she wants to be a part of the kind of shows that are moving America forward.
“I’ve been working on it now for 45 years!” Pam said. “You want to create a society where your young people, your children—you want them to feel confidence that they have a place to go where they feel loved and accepted. That gives them hope and inspiration and the sky’s the limit. I’ve been working on it for a long time. They say you take small steps but you still move forward—that’s what’s been happening. It’s a movement. It’s a spiritual movement.”
Pam is hands-on in her activism, too, saying that during last year’s Dining Out For Life, she approached two tables of businessmen and asked them to participate.
“[I said] ‘Please don’t cuss me out but today is Dining Out For Life!'” she said, laughing. “They not only signed up but donated as well. Who can cuss out this face? They couldn’t turn me down! So if I made 14 more people aware of it, they may be inclined to look for it next year or spread the word.”
Besides being a cancer survivor and a respected public figure, Pam also wants people to get past the homophobia, racism, xenophobia and other kinds of hate that plague America today.
“Being a black woman, I’m very familiar with the Jim Crow era, growing up, and how people were horrible to one another, ” she said. “And the fact it could be that again. You see people fighting for humanity and it’s almost like the law of the jungle, you know? When does the religion and the spirituality and the affluence–when does it all come together and uplift one another? It takes all of us. It takes the few or the many but that’s what it takes. Every year we have to do it. I can’t imagine Dining Out for Life not existing next year. It can’t. It can’t happen. There are too many people living with HIV/AIDS—and living. “
Toward the end of our conversation, I thanked Pam for being such a great ally, and she stopped me mid-sentence.
“We’re all family!” she said. “Once you recognize that, boy your level of stress goes down. I want to see people live. I want to see communities live happily and with wellness. Just the greatness of what we have—we live in a country of great abundance in all ways and there’s no reason why people should suffer.”
Join Pam and thousands of others this Thursday, April 30 in Dining Out For Life, happening in cities all over America. Visit diningoutforlife.com to find one near you.