Lynn Whitfield: Survivors Run In Her Family

Actress Lynn Whitfield is a beautiful, classically trained actress who we’ve seen such films as Madea’s Family Reunion, Thin Line Between Love & Hate and the film she achieved international acclaim in, The Josephine Baker Story Now, the elegant actress can be seen each week in the hit OWN Network’s TV show, Greenleaf, produced by and also co-starring Oprah Winfrey. Greenleaf premiered as the No. 1 series in the network’s history and was the No. 1 cable series for women.

The Emmy-Award winning Whitfield stars as Lady Mae Greenleaf, the wife of a megachurch pastor, Bishop James Greenleaf, whose family lives in a perpetual state of upheaval riddled with scandal, secrets, lies and betrayal. Greenleaf is set in an affluent suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.

Whitfield is honored that Winfrey selected her for the role. She promises that during this season, audiences will see some of Lady Mae’s flaws and get a peek at the chink in her armor. “I like her, she’s got a lot to learn,” she explains. “As a black woman in America, I feel that Lady Mae is one of those women who have been a backbone for America. She’s of the same prototype as the Julia Purnell [former President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.]. She’s the president of the Deltas [Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.], and the Links [The Links, Incorporated]. She’s a part of the same spirit, but not in the political sense. She has a strong point of view, like a Barbara Jordan or a Shirley Chisholm, as many of these socially conscious and social butterfly women have had. The black women that pushed forward a lot of important things in this country. At the end of the day, at the center of everything, family is very important to her.”

How she deals with her health is just the same as how she deals with life.

“You get rid of the crud on the inside and you’ve got to clean it out,” explains Whitfield. You’ve got to lighten it up. You have to. It makes life so much better if you get rid of all of the dead stuff. Same thing with skin. Same thing with bad memories.”

In the last five years, Whitfield has gotten rid of another thing in her life: fake hair. The actress made a commitment to go natural.

“I just realized about three years ago that I didn’t even know what my natural texture is,” confesses Whitfield to Hype Hair Magazine. “And, I just became curious about it. “Let’s see. What is it really?” And, now I’m just starting to see the pattern coming out and I like it. It’s a pretty curl. I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I can pull it back, I don’t know, but we’ll see. It’s going to be an adventure, a journey. I’m so excited. I look forward to doing all this exploration.”

The daughter of a breast cancer survivor, and mother of a beautiful young woman in real life, family is very important to Whitfield as well. That is why she is spearheading a campaign as a means of broadening awareness of the disease and the importance of early detection among African American women.

“As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I felt it was important to lend my voice to promote awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection,” Whitfield stated.

Breast cancer is a disease that does not discriminate. However, breast cancer is the most common cancer among African American women, and African American women are more likely than all other women to die from the disease.

“Through the ‘Taking Charge of Breast Cancer’ initiative, we are delivering a message of hope and empowerment to African American women,” stated Whitfield. “We encourage them to be more proactive in their lifestyle choices and in managing their health by getting yearly mammograms, conducting self-breast exams at regular intervals, eating right and exercising.”

The “Taking Charge of Breast Cancer” resource guide and educational DVD is designed to educate African American women about the lifestyle choices and other factors that may increase their risk for breast cancer as well as resources available for early detection.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States and it is the most common cancer among African American women. According to the American Cancer Society, although African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer less frequently than white women, African American women die more from the disease due to lack of screening and diagnosis. In fact, the five-year survival rate of breast cancer for African American women is 77%, compared to 90% for white women.

Early detection and treatment may help increase a woman’s chance of beating breast cancer and this is an important message for…