Overcoming the challenges that come with diabetes is a common adversity in the African-American community. According to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans in the United States are 1.8 times more likely to have the disease as other ethnic groups, and 25 percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have the disease. Actor-comedian Anthony Anderson was diagnosed 15 years ago with type-2 diabetes, and his personal struggles have encouraged him to spread awareness via the Fearless African-Americans Connected and Empowered (F.A.C.E.) Diabetes initiative.
HuffPost Black Voices recently caught up with the former "Law & Order" actor, who spoke candidly about his experience with the metabolic disorder, as well as his tribute to late comedian Bernie Mac, the status of "Scary Movie 5" and bringing diversity to the Golf Channel.
Can you talk about your involvement with the Fearless African-Americans Connected and Empowered (F.A.C.E.) Diabetes initiative?
I teamed up with Eli Lilly, who created the F.A.C.E. program to help bring awareness and educate our community about type-2 diabetes. Being a type-2 diabetic myself, having lost a father to the disease, having my mother diagnosed with it as well, I'm all too familiar with it.
What are some of the tips that you're sharing with people in order to help prevent the disease and to live a healthy lifestyle?
The first thing is they should go to the doctor for yearly check-ups. That's what we need to do as a whole. And speaking to African-American men in particular, we need to start going to the doctor. My father had diabetes; we don't know how long he had it before he was diagnosed with it. So that's first and foremost. But with type-2 diabetes, it's all about lifestyle. Eating too much of the wrong things and not balancing that out with exercise. So that's what I would tell people to do: Eat healthier, eat less than what you normally put into your system, and balance that out with walking around your neighborhood or the park.
How did you initially discover that you were a type-2 diabetic?
I had the symptoms that everybody else has: being tired, taking mid-day naps all of a sudden, cotton mouth, constantly thirsty, going to the restroom to no end. And then it came to mind for me when I began drinking five gallons of water in the amount of two and a half hours. I was like, "All right, I have to go ahead to the doctor now." And that's when they diagnosed me.
How does being on the set of a film or show affect your eating habits?
It's about discipline. I could either die from this disease, or live with it as best as I can. I choose to live with it. Being on set actually makes it easier for me, because all I have to do is let them know what I should be eating, what I can't eat. And I have people on set that work with me, assistants and things like that. So my situation is a little bit different, because I have an assistant who can go get me a half of sandwich and tell me, "Anthony, it's time for you to eat this." But for those who don't have that, it's all about planning. And if you fail to plan, you know how that goes. So it's all about planning your day out, your meals, ahead of time and that makes it that much easier.
Do you have plans for hitting the road to share any of your testimonials?
I do. That's what the whole FACE campaign is. We travel the country throughout the year. We do events like expos, Circle of Sisters, and then other events on our own. So there's lots of events that go on throughout the year that I'm a part of. Angie Stone is also the other face of the FACE program.
One of your former castmates and dear friend, Bernie Mac, also dealt with a series of health issues. Can you talk about your role and relationship in the forthcoming tribute film, "I Ain't Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac."
Bernie and I, we worked together and first met on the set of "Life," with Martin [Lawrence] and Eddie [Murphy]. We started our friendship there, and then I got the call that "Bernie Mac wants you to be on his show." So I did six episodes of his show during the last year that they were on the air. And then someone approached me about being a part of this tribute to him, and I couldn't say no to it, just because of the personal relationship that we had and because I'm such a big fan of his work, and I learned a lot from him.
Being that you're such a big fan of his, what was one of the things that made an impact on your career as a actor?
Actually, working with him on "Life." "Life" was my first movie, and for it to be with Bernie, Eddie, Martin, Cicely Tyson, Sanaa Lathan-- for it to be with all of these people and to sit and watch Bernie work... We're all in the prison mess hall in one scene and everybody's talking about giving their story - basically the introduction of all the characters in the movie -- and I watched how Bernie, when the camera turned to him for his close-up, the layers and the texture that he had added to his character, the specificity in which he worked. I learned, I was like, "Oh, that's what I’m supposed to be doing when the camera turns on me." That's something that I took away from that.
Speaking of films, you're also scheduled to make an appearance in the latest installment of "Scary Movie." What's the status?
You know, I have no idea what's going on with that. But yeah, I definitely will be in "Scary Movie 5." We were supposed to go [start filming] in October, but they pushed the movie back till January. We're still waiting to get a script on that, but I will definitely be a part of that.
You're also in your third year as host of The Golf Channel's "Golf In America." What are your thoughts on bringing diversity to the network?
It's great. The Golf Channel approached me three years ago about being a part of their network and diversity, so they pitched this show to me and asked me to be a host, and I jumped at the opportunity just because golf is a passion of mine. It's something that I've played for 15 years, so I'm excited about that and just the opportunities and the relationships that I'm able to build upon from playing the game, let alone being on the channel, hosting the show. It's great for business relationships and networking.
Do you have any other upcoming events or projects that you want to talk about?
I have the "Big Year" coming out October 14, with me, Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin, a bird-watching movie that we did last year. So I'm excited about that. I also have two independent films coming out: One is called "The Power of Few," with myself, Juvenile, Christian Slater and Christopher Walken. And then I have "Goats," with me, David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga and Minnie Driver. So those are the film projects that I have in the can and slated to come out. And then also, I have a television deal with F/X, working to develop another half-hour comedy. And speaking of comedy, I'm in New York City every third Sunday of the month at Gotham Comedy Club, hosting my monthly comedy show called "Mixtape Comedy." We stream it live on Facebook and on our website. Tracy Morgan, Tony Rock, Capone -- everybody comes through and blesses the room.