The 12th Annual Lupus LA Orange Ball drew a star-studded crowd and raised over $550,000 for research and support for patients living with the incurable autoimmune disease. Natasha Bedingfield, whose friend has lupus, was the evening's entertainer, and Paula Abdul was on hand to introduce Dr. Daniel Wallace, the nonprofit's founder and medical advisor and the physician who has treated her for lupus and RSD. "I'm in remission now," she said. "I'm turning 50 in a few weeks and I've never been healthier. I'm a big fan of organics, but it's hard to adhere to," she admitted.
Kellie Martin, who lost her sister to lupus, is a longtime Lupus LA supporter. "It's a great organization doing great work, and I have to come and be a part of it. They couldn't keep me away," said the actress, also a spokesperson for the American Autoimmune and Related Diseases Association. Her latest role is a recurring run on "Army Wives," playing a lesbian military intelligence officer, and she'll return to work next month to film more episodes on the Lifetime drama, which returns June 24.
"It's not always easy to go onto a show that's that well established but they were very welcoming," said Martin, who's gotten favorable feedback from people in committed same-sex relationships. "All they want is to have basic rights," she noted, adding that fans of the show are divided. "Some people are happy about it, and some people are not. But it's certainly started a discussion. The Facebook page is all abuzz." Martin, who will also star in the October Hallmark movie "I Married Who," plans to get a little vacation time in this summer with her family in Montana and work on her online toy company, romp. Meanwhile, she's spending time on her garden. "My tomatoes are about to pop," she said. "Last season was terrible but we got it right this year."
Earth, Wind & Fire bassist Verdine White doesn't have lupus but attended because his doctor, Soram Khalsa, was an honoree, recognized for his efforts in treating patients with eastern and western medicine. Just back from concerts in Tokyo, EWF begins a U.S. tour June 7th in Chicago, and will release a double album in September, combining new and greatest hits material. "We're calling it 'Now, Then, and Forever,'" said White, who stays green by recycling and conserving water. "Don't use so much water when you brush your teeth and recycle your trash," he advised.
"I used to drive a Prius — not anymore. I got tired of driving a small car and the lease was up. I've been looking at the Porsche hybrid. I have my eye on that," said Kevin Phillips ("Red Tails"). "I'm always recycling, not leaving the water running, and having my bills emailed to me. Anything I can do to contribute." On hand to support a friend whose mother succumbed to lupus, Phillips admitted he didn't know much about the disease until recently. "Sometimes you don't pay attention until it hits close to home. I'm educating myself about it, and it's frightening."
Thrilled to have been part of "Red Tails," now out on DVD, for the chance to tell an important part of black history and the "dream come true" chance to work with George Lucas, Phillips is developing a sci-fi Web series and graphic novel project called "Echoes." "I'm producing and starring in it," he noted.