Renowned for her beauty, Halle Berry’s recent actions after meeting her body double, Elise Fernandez, speaks volumes about her inner beauty.
Fernandez, battling breast cancer since 2008, met her look-alike on the set of “Dark Tide,” an upcoming thriller shooting in South Africa. While getting their wigs removed after a scene, Halle introduced herself and marveled over Elise’s double set of dimples. Halle also learned that her stand-in came to work four days after surgery because she needed the money to pay for her mastectomy. Moved, Berry donated to Journey of Hope, a local cancer support organization.
“I got the voice-mail message on my phone as I woke up after coming out of the hospital theatre,” Elise said in an interview with the the Johannesburg-based Times. “It meant that I would have only four days to recover, but I was desperate for the money,” she said.
Rewind. For. Just. A. Minute. I can only imagine the drive Elise possessed to get out of bed, toss the covers of self pity, and go to work to take care of her two sons and pay mounting medical bills four days after surgery to remove a lump from her right breast.
Sounds like someone needs to do a biopic about Elise, 37, who wears a prosthetic breast in her bra on the right side and has a silicone implant on her left.
But you know what? Sometime the world balances out and gets it right. Elise’s encounter with Halle came at a time she could probably use reaffirmation, not as an aspiring documentary filmmaker but as a woman. I can only imagine the transformational power Elise felt as she stood in for one of the world’s celebrated lookers.Their connection inspired me and I’m sure many others. Elise is a warrior who, like many women around the globe, battles adversity with resilience and grace and then cooks dinner. Hollywood needs help capturing their stories.
I just hope Berry remembers Elise for future film projects.
What also moves me about Elise’s situation is the circle of support anchoring her during turbulent times. She has credited her sons, 12 and 16, and her boyfriend, who has told her he loves her scars and she is beautiful. Are we listening men? Kind words, thoughtful actions and real prayers deliver the combination breast cancer survivors embrace. I have a friend battling the insidious disease and I know what authentic gestures mean to her.
Elise and Halle embody the power of female bonding and remind the rest of us to help our sisters struggling with a disease that preys on a woman’s sense of femininity. Elise and Halle redefine gorgeousness and where it’s located: in the heart.