Despite the struggles of trying to manage through a pandemic, Angela Bassett is taking good care of herself per usual. She has been making time to exercise in between filming projects, de-stress as much as possible during these hectic times, and keeps her diet as clean as she can to look and feel her best at 62.
“I try to eat right. Eat clean. Eat healthy,” she told me over the phone. “Nutritious foods.”
Her hope is to come out of the pandemic “a little stronger, a little better.”
She wants that for herself, as well as for the more than 30 million people living with diabetes. Bassett is a Know Diabetes By Heart national spokesperson, a joint effort between the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association. She’s working with them to help Black people, as well other people of color manage their condition. She says that now more than ever we have to be serious about staying healthy, especially since we’ve not only been greatly impacted by diabetes, but by the current COVID crisis.
“It’s really important that we take care of ourselves,” she said. “Our community is really getting affected adversely in larger measure by COVID. Also, those who are living with type 2 diabetes are two times more likely to develop heart conditions or to have a stroke or to have their brain health affected.”
“Having Type 2 diabetes makes you two times more susceptible to stroke and heart disease. Add to it the stress of what’s going on, and we know that stress is not a good thing at all,” she added. “We’re operating and living in a constant state of stress these days. Family and work and survival and bills and relationships and hopes for your children, your parents, for the country, for the future. It’s vitally important in this time because of all we’re going through in the pandemic that we take care of ourselves more than ever.”
Advocating for those impacted by type 2 diabetes or those caring for someone with the disease is an effort close to Bassett’s heart. She lost her mother to a heart condition attached to her diabetes. The star’s uncle, whom she says works out and eats clean, is also trying his best to manage a type 2 diagnosis.
“You never know who might be affected and why,” she said. “There’s no blanket statement of ‘don’t do this, do this instead.’ I wanted to get the word out that if you’re living with it or you’re caring for someone living with type 2 diabetes, get with a healthcare provider and develop a plan to manage the risk of heart disease and brain health because it can be managed.”
In addition to seeing your doctor, you can also get more information from Bassett. As part of the initiative Know Diabetes By Heart, she’s giving fans the opportunity to chat with her about managing the condition and, as an additional perk, “get a whole new friendship going.” Whatever she can do to help save lives, she’s game for.
“We can be around for the folk who love us, for ourselves, and for each other,” she said.
Speaking of people she loves, we asked the star about her husband Courtney B. Vance and hit HBO series Lovecraft Country. When we mentioned that he had a “major” role on the series as Uncle George, she joked, “Major role?! He got killed off! [laughs] I guess you could get killed off and still be major. That’s true. You’re right.”
But like the rest of us, Bassett was a huge fan of the show. However, it admittedly took her a little longer to get into it.
“I watched about the first two or three episodes and you know, Jurnee [Smollett] played my daughter many, many years ago in this TV movie called Ruby’s Bucket of Blood. So it was interesting. Here I’m looking at Courtney and I’m looking at Jurnee. I’m looking at these monsters. I’m just overwhelmed with the production design, the music, the layering of poetry, the words of James Baldwin. I mean, I need some space and some time,” she said. “So I put it down for maybe two weeks or so. Then I finally got tired of Courtney going ‘Oh last night’s episode! I thought last week’s was great but last night?! Ooh!’ [laughs] I went back to it, started all over again and it was glorious. Miss Misha Green, she’s brilliant. She did that.”
Bassett also talked lovingly about her late Black Panther co-star Chadwick Boseman, who passed from colon cancer in August at the age of 43. When asked about how she feels about the prospect of working on the sequel without him, she said it would be difficult, but he wouldn’t want the franchise and its impact to end with him.
“I wonder if and how we’re going to do that, and yet I was also encouraged in speaking with producers at the time of his passing. They said, ‘He can’t be replaced,'” she said. “I know our director [Ryan Coogler] who is also our writer, he’s brilliant. He will find a way. He also has a big and tremendous heart and he had such a deep love and respect for Chadwick. So they’re going to find a way.”
“Some people are irreplaceable. Some people just have that thing about them. They touch you. And he definitely was one of those people, one of those souls,” she added. “We’re going to come up with the best way to carry this forward. I’m sure Chadwick would want that. But he’ll never be far from our memory.”
Go to knowdiabetesbyheart.org for resources and to meet other ambassadors like Bassett. Text “holiday” to 22639 to receive exclusive text messages from the Oscar nominated actress featuring tips and encouragement for managing Type 2 diabetes.