ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany native Christy Bella Joiner has been busy in the last few months. The 28-year-old model and actress, in addition to working tirelessly on raising money for cancer research, is preparing for her first dramatic role in an independent movie.
Joiner, inspired by the loss of her father to prostate cancer, has recently teamed up with Charles Grant of the New Orleans Saints to make a public service announcement available to watch on YouTube as part of the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) initative, joining other celebrities such as actor Jake Gyllenhaal in the fight to promote cancer research.
"I get really enthusiastic about my charities. That's my passion," said Joiner in a telephone interview with The Herald.
Calling cancer the "deadly plague of our time," Joiner spoke about the importance of funding cancer research.
"My father's dying wish was to find a cure. He died on my birthday. We still don't know what causes it (cancer). This thing that affects everyone. Cancer doesn't discriminate against class or race. If we can save one life it's worth it," said the model.
Joiner said when Grant, a former University of Georgia football star, agreed to create a PSA for SU2C, she was a bit nervous.
"I thought, 'Big football star, he will probably be a jerk.' But he wasn't at all. He was the perfect Southern gentleman and a really family-oriented man. He (Grant) lost his grandmother to cancer. We also had a lot in common, we both went to UGA (University of Georgia)," said the top model of the super bowl winner.
The SU2C television event is set to air live and commercial free on Fox on Sept. 10. This year's telecast will feature live performances by legendary recording artists and stars from film, television and sports will present content that provides viewers with insights into cancer. Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams, anchors of CBS, ABC and NBC news, respectively, will host the Sept. 10 telecast.
SU2C is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation that seeks to raise funds to hasten the pace of groundbreaking translational research.
In addition to donating her time and money to cancer research, Joiner has also been working with writer and director John Bosley on his new film "The House," an independent thriller that focuses on a newlywed couple.
Joiner was cast to play Anne Peterson, the wife of protagonist Jack Peterson. Bosley said Joiner is perfect for the role of Anne, who in the movie struggles with her husband's sordid past which is brought on when the FBI came knocking on their door one day.
"Christy Bella sent in a video audition. I was looking for something that said 'I'm Anne Peterson' and I saw it in her eyes when she wasn't even acting," said Bosley in a telephone interview with The Herald from his home in Maine.
Bosley said with the inclusion of Christy Bella as the lead, "The House" has garnered wide Georgian support that even led the director to film some scenes in Georgia in June.
"Christy Bella has been telling me how supportive Georgians are of their own and with an independent film, that is a big deal," said the director.
Bosley said Joiner captures the essence of Anne's character, a housewife and nurse, and that he believes audiences will be surprised by the top model's dramatic depth.
"There is a whole love story to it. I want the audience to fall in love with this story. We always see it (thrillers) from an investigation or cops prospective, this movie is not your typical find this clue then find this clue type of movie," said the Maine director.
Joiner said to prepare for her role as Anne she did extensive research into nursing and being a housewife and welcomes the chance to show her dramatic side.
"Hyper-realism is definitely a challenge. I hope the audience connects with my character," she said.
The actress said the movie's theme is timeless and that audiences will enjoy delving into Jack Peterson's past with her character.
"I think it's a timeless theme and the question of, 'Can people change?' I think women specifically will be able to connect with that. I think every woman has had a guy lie to her before," said Joiner.
The filmakers have started a campaign for the public to demand the film be produced. Through the movie's website viewers can ask that the film be made and shown in theaters much like viewers asked for sleeper-success, "Paranormal Activity", to be shown in local theaters.
Bosley said "The House" is slated for a fall 2010 production date and viewers can watch the progress of the film or demand the film be made by going to http://www.thehousefilmproject.com.