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The Actors Fund Helps: Dori

October 24, 2012

Dori in front of The Fund’s Palm View residence, a 40-unit apartment complex that provides homes to low-income people with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles. Credit: Scott Appel.

The Actors Fund is there for anyone in the entertainment industry for emergency help. When it comes to special programs, such as the HIV/ AIDS Initiative, donors should know their support really helps people get back into life.”

In 2005, after a brush with death as a result of his illness, Dori (an actor, producer, and politival activist) was in dire need of assistance, and through word of mouth he learned about The Fund. Initially, it was given through emergency financial aid and ongoing counseling, but later, The Fund really started to come through for Dori—especially when it came time to apply for Social Security Disability.

Due to residual effects caused by the virus, Dori had difficulty writing so his counselor at The Fund spent three days filling out the 100-page application as Dori dictated his answers. And he credits the government’s rapid approval—less than three months—to the help he received from that counselor.

“Even some friends…who are in the industry and know about [The Fund] aren’t aware that it’s open to more than just actors,” says Dori. “They also don’t know how specific The Fund gets when you have a catastrophic illness, and the work that it does. So they’re all pretty amazed. And they actually have donated to The Fund because of the help I’ve received—and continue to receive.”

As time went on and feeling somewhat stronger, Dori was ready to get back into life. He decided he wanted to use his experience to help raise awareness, especially as his case as a straight male infected by a woman is not perceived as a usual one. With this in mind, The Fund encouraged him to take advantage of the Willard Swire Scholarship, which provides financial support to qualified Actors Fund clients making a transition to a new career. This opportunity “was a blessing,” and enabled him to take a certificate program in International Studies with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Politics at UCLA.

As a result, Dori found a position and worked for two years as Director of Development/Media for the Safe Haven Project, a global non-profit dedicated to HIV-positive youth. He created a promotional film for the organization, and worked at its site in Ghana.

“This is where The Actors Fund was really instrumental in helping me get back into living,” he explains. “I decided I really needed to do something with my experience, and dovetail that with my 30 years in the entertainment industry. The Actors Fund helped me go back to school, and acquire the knowledge I needed. I wanted to work in Africa, and I knew it was important to understand the Muslim culture, because 70% of Africa is Muslim. And this really helped me get back into life and living again…it’s a simple as that.”

His counselor at the time, Linda Zimmerman (who Dori credits with helping him “navigate through the murky waters”), presented the idea of moving into The Palm View. He became a resident in March. Now happily settled in, he’s currently using his skills in a variety of other projects, including a documentary based on children with HIV, and becoming a motivational speaker.

Donate today so The Actors Fund can continue to help entertainment professionals like Dori!

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