Our commitment to promoting social connection with programs like the Daily Call Sheet, which pairs industry volunteers with retired industry members for ongoing friendly social calls, has resulted in powerful pairings of volunteers with older adults over the past several years. However, none have been quite like the extraordinary link forged between author Loren Stephens and retired actor Aki Gonzales Aleong, a Trinidad native with a long and illustrious career. “We’re very comfortable with each other,” Loren says, “and Aki has an amazing background. I feel very lucky to have been matched up with him. He has over 200 IMDB credits, whether as an actor, as a director, as a producer. And interestingly enough, he also has a very rich career in the recording industry, both as a performer and as a producer of records and songwriter.” Loren came to volunteer with the Daily Call Sheet in 2020 through GreenLight Women, an organization supporting and championing women over 40 in entertainment and media. The GreenLight Women wanted to “give back together,” and the DCS was a perfect way to do that—with many GLW members still volunteering for the Daily Call Sheet / MPTF.
From his school years in Brooklyn, where his family relocated, through his time in the New York TV and theater scene (where he rubbed shoulders with people like Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra) and his many pursuits since then, along with his four marriages, his five children, and his conversion to Judaism, Aki’s memories were something Loren wanted to preserve on the page while he still had them. With over 40 books under her belt already, she undertook the process of writing Aki’s memoir through hours of in-depth interview sessions. “He was also extremely active in the diversity activities of SAG and the various other unions,” Loren explains. “He even went to some of the advertising agencies on Madison Avenue and said, ‘Why the hell aren’t you showing more people of color in your ads?’ it was a dream of his to write a book, but he was at a point in his own life where that just wasn’t possible. But with me helping him along, he was able to achieve that.” Now in the final stages, Fighting for the Truth: A Memoir will be available through WriteWisdom and demonstrates the life-changing connections that can form when you decide to give back. For more about MPTF’s social connectivity programs, click below.