Andre Lee Ellis
Actor, Director, Community Advocate
As an actor, Andre Lee Ellis knows the importance of words and how to use them effectively. In his profession, a turn of words can make a scene forever memorable or fall dead and be forgotten before the audience leaves the theater.
His on-stage characters can and do inspire. And just as importantly, Andre recognizes that in “real” life, he has the power to inspire and motivate. That’s what he’s done all his life – give back and serve. He has taken his “act” to a new stage. Add to his many credits Community Advocate. Andre works with those he says “…live on the bottom, but somehow, miraculously, learn to fly.”
In 2005, Andre had his own low flying moment…he was diagnosed with diabetes. But his indomitable spirit wouldn’t succumb to the illness. Like learning his lines from the classic plays he’s performed, Andre read up and found the key to beating the dreaded disease. First, it was diet. A restaurant in his neighborhood cooked up a meal plan especially for him; one that allowed him to eat what he liked and stay within the guidelines of foods prescribed for diabetics. It took a year but the discipline enabled him to reduce his insulin intake to one shot per day.
Like the noted director he was in theater, Andre manages his illness saying, “I have diabetes, diabetes doesn’t have me.”
He has mastered his new role – he exercises, walks work wonders. A treadmill in the home is a fantastic thing. He shies away from what he calls “the white stuff” – sugar and flour. And red meat doesn’t work well with your digestive system so he recommends simply, “don’t eat it.”
Nowadays, Andre has surrounded himself with a new cast of characters; they aren’t actors, these are real people making real change in their lives and the lives of others. Those watching have seen the remarkable change in the lives of the members of this ensemble Andre has gathered. They’ve traded in the weapons of destruction many carried for shovels and hoes and seeds that grow things. A community garden has sprouted up where once an abandoned field sat fallow. Instead of producing memorable lines, the Andre Lee Ellis Company is producing nourishing foods that also nourish the minds of the young people who help grow them.
The project has grown from a small group of 5 boys and a few men, to more than 80 boys who earn a few dollars a week changing the world they live in. They are supported by anonymous sources and people impressed by the work they are doing. Seeing the transformation the boys go through from their initial participation to the Summer’s end is what matters.
Andre stands committed, knowing, if you plant the seeds something good will grow.