Sheila Jaffe is a different kind of Hollywood icon. The public may not know who she is, but every actor - from unknowns to stars -- is familiar with her and what she does for a living. A casting director whose shows have garnered numerous Emmys, Ms. Jaffe is responsible for HBO's The Sopranos and Entourage as well as many feature films including Secretariat and Ted.
Ms. Jaffe is anything but star struck. When we sat down to discuss her latest venture she told me, "Casting is my job, but Felix is my passion." The Felix Organization, a charity which she co-founded with Darryl (DMC) McDaniels of RUN/DMC helps to "enhance the lives" of children in the foster care system.
Felix is the Latin root for happy. Ms. Jaffe and DMC were both adopted as children and started Felix seven years ago when they quickly raised 80,000 dollars after calling on the generosity of friends. "It's a total grassroots operation. We don't have anybody working for us -- all the money we raise goes to the kids," said Ms. Jaffe. Since 2006, Felix has sent more than 1000 kids to summer camp.
Prior to starting Felix, Ms. Jaffe had been sending foster kids to plays and other events. "We decided that we wanted to send kids to summer camp and we were introduced to The New York Foundling, a foster care organization," said Ms. Jaffe. There are 16,000 children in foster care in New York and it costs 500 dollars to send one of them to camp.
"We're at the point where we have to grow, so we're trying to take Felix to the next level," Ms. Jaffe said. "I knew we had to have an event and I love to dance so I decided to sponsor a dance and on May 19 we plan on getting 400 people to dance in teams of four. We're going to dance through the decades, from jitterbug to hip-hop" said Ms. Jaffe. There will also be tango, cha-cha and maybe even the limbo as well as a performance by DMC. They will even supply foot massages if your feet get tired.
The fundraising event is called Dance This Way and will be held at the XL Nightclub in midtown Manhattan on Sunday May 19 at 7 pm. The three hour dance event is designed for teams of 1 - 4 dancers and more details can be found at http://www.crowdrise.com/dancethisway. Ms. Jaffe's goal is to raise enough money to send a substantial number of children to camp so she has enlisted the help of many industry friends, including director Penny Marshall, who put together a fantastic public service announcement.
Ms Jaffe's passion is infectious and I look forward to seeing her on the dance floor.