Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala

Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala


Wyck Godfrey and Mary Kerr, MD, MPH

with the Elyse Bila Ouedraogo Award


Zoe Saldana-Perego and Marco Perego-Saldana

with the Visionary Award

on April 29, 2019 at the
Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Laughter Is the Best Medicine is a rousing night of celebration and comedy, attracting some of Hollywood’s leading executives and talent.

With performances from some of the industry’s top comedians and special guests from Jhpiego’s country offices, Laughter Is the Best Medicine is not only our single largest annual fundraising event—it’s also our opportunity to spotlight the incredible work of our staff all over the world.

Gala proceeds improve the health and well-being of women and their families in the developing world.

Elyse Bila Ouedraogo Award Honorees

Mary Kerr, MD, MPH

Dr. Mary Kerr is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist in Beverly Hills whose philanthropy focuses on causes in women’s and children’s health. Mary has instructed residents as a UCLA clinical faculty member and has been recognized as one of the top ob-gyns in America.

She graduated from Princeton University, then earned her master’s degree in public health and her medical degree from Boston University. She completed her residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Mary is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Los Angeles Obstetrical and Gynecology Society, and the American Medical Women’s Association. She is a national honoree for United Cerebral Palsy for her work with cord blood stem cell collection and for the Special Needs Network, which supports the challenges of children with developmental disabilities. She is also on the board of Children of the Caribbean. She and her husband have been honored by the Thirst Project and the March of Dimes.

Wyck Godfrey

Acclaimed producer Wyck Godfrey joined Paramount Pictures as president of the Motion Picture Group in January 2018. He is responsible for the studio’s film operations from development to release, managing the Creative/Development Group, as well as overseeing casting, physical production, postproduction and music. In the past year, he has overseen the production and release of the successful horror film A Quiet Place, the comedy Book Club and the sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Prior to Paramount, Wyck was partner at Temple Hill Entertainment, a film and television production company, since February 2006. The company launched a number of successful film franchises, notably the Twilight Saga and The Maze Runner trilogy. It also released First Man, Love, Simon and The Fault in Our Stars. Temple Hill also produced several television shows, including Rosewood, Revenge and the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes.

Wyck began his career as a creative executive at New Line Cinema after graduating from Princeton University in 1990 with a B.A. in English literature. In 1995, he joined Horizon Pictures as senior vice president of production, overseeing their slate of projects for 20th Century Fox. He next joined John Davis Entertainment as executive vice president and was eventually promoted to president.

Mary and Wyck live in Los Angeles with their three sons.

Visionary Award Honorees

Zoe Saldana-Perego

Receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last spring, Zoe Saldana-Perego is herself the epitome of a true star in Hollywood, earning a reputation as a versatile and respected actress by choosing roles that she feels passionately about. She recently reprised her role as the fan-favorite ‘Gamora’ in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity Wars,” which became the first superhero film to gross over $2 billion worldwide and became the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time. Saldana-Perego is the only actress in history to star in multiple movies that have passed the $2 billion worldwide mark. Additionally, she starred in the independent drama “I Kill Giants” directed by Anders Walter based on the comic book of the same name. Saldana-Perego also lent her talents as the voice of Captain Celaeno in the animated Lionsgate film, “My Little Pony: The Movie” and will again lend her voice in 2019 in the animated Laika Entertainment film “Missing Link” as adventurer Adelina Fortnight opposite Hugh Jackman, Emma Thompson, and Zach Galifianakis.

Saldana-Perego is currently focused on BESE (prounced “Bee-Seh”), her digital platform reshaping the cultural narrative by shining light on the untold stories that reflect today’s America. This platform provides a voice to Latinx youth through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as YouTube videos and podcasts. BESE fills a niche for young Latinx audiences craving positive portrayals of the modern American experience.

In 2017, Saldana-Perego was once again seen opposite Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” where she again starred as the franchise’s lethal alien assassin, ‘Gamora.’ The movie was a blockbuster success, grossing over $863 million worldwide, making it the eighth-highest-grossing film of 2017.

Saldana-Perego starred in “Live By Night,” directed by Ben Affleck. The film focused on a group of individuals during the Prohibition Era and their dealings in the world of organized crime. Saldana-Perego costarred with Ben Affleck and Sienna Miller.

Saldana-Perego was also seen in “Star Trek: Beyond,” the third installment to the 2009 blockbuster hit. Saldana-Perego played ‘Nyota Uhura’ opposite Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. The JJ Abrams action-packed film grossed $185 million at the box office.

Saldana-Perego is best known in her starring role as ‘Neytiri’ in the record-breaking film, “Avatar,” James Cameron’s sci-fi thriller, co-starring Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington. “Avatar” quickly became the highest-grossing film of all time, winning the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Director and Best Picture. “Avatar” went on to receive a total of nine 2010 Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. Saldana-Perego is currently in production on the film’s highly anticipated sequels “Avatar 2, 3, and 4” slated for a 2019 release.

Saldana-Perego’s other film credits include “Infinitely Polar Bear,” “Blood Ties,” “Out of the Furnace,” “The Words,” “Colombiana,” “Takers” and “Death at a Funeral” as well as her breakout role in the film “Center Stage.” Her television credits include appearances on the television reboot of “Rosemary’s Baby,” the WB’s “Keeping It Real,” and NBC’s “Law & Order.”

Furthermore, Saldana-Perego is spending time behind the camera with her film production company Cinestar. Founded with her two sisters, Cinestar produced the NBC mini-series “Rosemary’s Baby” as well as the AOL digital series “My Hero.” Additionally, Saldana-Perego teamed up with the millennial mom–geared network Awestruck to create digital content for AwesomenessTV. Partnering with Awestruck on both unscripted and scripted content, Saldana-Perego will executive-produce two series and create a YouTube channel for the Awestruck platform with her sisters. The lifestyle network is scheduled to debut later this year on YouTube, Facebook video, and Verizon’s upcoming go90 video service.

When not in production, Saldana-Perego engages in meaningful philanthropic work involving children’s development, well-being and confidence building. Saldana-Perego has been very vocal in her involvement with Brave Beginnings. The organization focuses on bringing essential lifesaving equipment and services to seriously ill children and their families. Brave Beginnings specifically works to ensure ventilators and lifesaving neonatal equipment are always available to newborns in critical need. Annually, Brave Beginnings provides grants for essential neonatal intensive care equipment such as critical airway carts, infant resuscitators, incubators, OmniBeds, and much more.

Saldana-Perego is also the Global Ambassador for Shot@Life. Shot@Life aims to ensure that children around the world have access to lifesaving vaccines. Through education, advocacy, and fundraising, it strives to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life no matter where they live. It is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, which builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach.

Additionally, Saldana-Perego also lends her support to the Step Up Network—an organization which works to propel young women from under-resourced communities to fulfill their potential by empowering them to become confident, college-bound, and career-focused leaders. The organization offers effective after-school programs as well as influential mentorships. Each year the organization holds its Annual Inspiration Awards Gala, in which Saldana-Perego was honored in 2014.

In 2011, Saldana-Perego directed the short film “Kaylien” in her ongoing effort to raise awareness about autism. The short film—which served as Saldana-Perego’s directorial debut—was a part of the Glamour Reel Moments series that brings Hollywood’s leading female talent to take a turn behind the camera, directing a short film inspired by real-life story submissions from Glamour readers. “Kaylien” starred Malin Akerman and Bradley Cooper. Zoe has long been an advocate of autism awareness by engaging in organizations such as Actors for Autism, Autism Speaks, and the annual event Light It Up Blue, taking place on April 2nd each year.

Saldana-Perego has also taken part in the Haiti Relief Inc., which works tirelessly to provide disaster relief to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. The organization focuses on distributing medical supplies, food, clothing, and other necessary items (such as soap and chlorine bleach) to aid and assist the residents of Haiti. The organization also assists in rebuilding schools, medical clinics and hospitals being the focus of the organization from relief to development.

Additionally, Saldana-Perego has participated in development efforts with FINCA—an organization designed to alleviate poverty through lasting solutions to help build assets, create jobs, and raise the standard of living. In 2010, Saldana-Perego spearheaded the “Lend a Hand” campaign—FINCA’s safe and easy-to-use online donation tool. The campaign allowed people to donate to FINCA and the women from around the world working to free their families from poverty to better the lives of their families. In 2014 Saldana-Perego became the face of L’Oreal. In her role as an international spokesmodel, she has appeared in several multimedia advertisements for the brand’s plethora of beauty products.

Saldana-Perego was born and raised in New York. When not on location, she resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Marco Perego-Saldana, and three boys.

Marco Perego-Saldana

Marco Perego-Saldana, a painter and sculptor whose art is rooted in social commentary, has gained an international reputation in galleries from London to Miami. A former professional soccer player sidelined by injury, he set out in his 20s to pursue his passion for art. He left his native Italy and moved to New York, where he supported himself in the early days by doing odd jobs—he was a busboy, a waiter and even a soccer teacher.

Some of Marco’s most lauded early pieces include the sculpture “The Only Good Rockstar Is a Dead Rockstar,” which was featured on the cover of The Guardian in 2007, and the background he painted for Dolce and Gabbana’s 2008 campaign, When Fashion Meets Art. Since then, he has exhibited his art in solo shows in LA, London, Zurich and New York City. He has also participated in several group shows in Rome, London and Milan.

Marco made his first foray into film, as a producer with ME + HER, which debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. He then wrote and directed Burn to Shine, a short film comprising over 2,500 drawings, in 2015.

Live Auction

It is our pleasure to present this preview of our live auction items. Many thanks to our generous sponsors for providing some incredible experiences for the lucky winners.

Aspen getaway at the Ritz Carlton

Life as a vintner with Donelan Family Wines

Walk-on role in an Adam Sandler film

More details to follow.

Thank you to this year’s sponsors

Continental Circle

Catherine and Marty Bowen
Kim and Eden Hammond
MurthyNAYAK Foundation
Paramount Pictures

Country Circle

Gilliane Isabelle
Jenner & Block, LLP
Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Drs. Susie and Howie Mandel

Village Circle

Berlanti Family Foundation
Cara and Erik Moreno
Ellen and Tom Hoberman
The Firestone von Winterfeldt
Family Fund
Drs. Hadar and Cory Waldman
Jane and Hank Mullany
Katie McGrath and JJ Abrams
Michele Brennan and Kent Alterman
Dr. Murray Lappe
Rita Tuzon and Richard Stone
Dr. Renee Levi and Alan Levi
Skydance Media
Sony Pictures Entertainment
United Talent Agency

Community Circle

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Jon Vein
Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman, LLP
Melody McCoy and Sandy Cardin
Pam Schutz
Sabrina Calley and Rick Porras
Susanna Felleman and Erik Feig

(as of March 14, 2019)

2019 Laughter Is the Best Medicine Gala Event Co-Chairs and Host Committee

Event Co-Chairs

Ann and Jim Gianopulos
Dr. Michele Brennan and Kent Alterman
Drs. Susie and Howie Mandel

Host Committee

Ashley and David Kramer
Cara and Erik Moreno
Catherine and Marty Bowen
Christy Callahan and Jon Glickman
Claudia Teran and David Wisnia
Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Jon Vein
Ellen and Tom Hoberman
Greg Berlanti and Robbie Rogers
Jackie and Adam Sandler
Kaye Popofsky Kramer and Jeremy Kramer
Lauren Schuker Blum and Jason Blum
Lisa Firestone von Winterfeldt and Caspar von Winterfeldt
Monica Potter
Dr. Murray Lappe
Nicole and Andrew Gumpert
Noelle Toland and Don Kurz
Olivia Hamilton and Damien Chazelle
Rita Tuzon and Richard Stone
Sabrina Calley and Rick Porras
Sheela Murthy and Vasant Nayak

Highlight Reel

Photos from the Gala