Carole Bayer Sager, Colin Farrell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Deborah Birx

Carole Bayer Sager, Colin Farrell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Deborah Birx

The Hollywood Reporter
By Arlene Washington
February 1, 2016

“Her message is timeless,” said Farrell during an intimate luncheon for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Elizabeth Taylor was highly favored by Hollywood, but the actress truly thrived from an equally important cause.

Plans to further Taylor’s legacy were continued by her close friend, actor Colin Farrell (True Detective, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) along with major Hollywood philanthropy players who gathered at the Bel Air home of famed songwriter Carole Bayer Sager on Monday afternoon. The intimate luncheon wasn’t a flaunt of paparazzi-filled glamour, but a down-to-business discussion — fitting since Farrell spoke of Taylor as an iconic woman of her time who cared most about using her courtship of celebrity to help those in need.

“Elizabeth was always interested in those who were not being taken care of, those who were isolated, those who were marginalized, those who were polarized. I think her message is timeless,” Farrell told The Hollywood Reporter.

Sager, a good friend of Taylor’s, hosted directors, officers and ambassadors from power philanthropy organizations including PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief), the Burkle Global Initiative, The Elizabeth Taylor Trust, The Hilton Foundation and Supermax World). She expressed how Taylor’s cause, once a great force in the public eye, could use a boost of awareness, particularly from the younger generation. Sager brought up names like Jay-Z, Kanye and Kim Kardashian West as those who could continue the message, as well as anyone in the industry who has a positive voice and a social-media footprint.

It was Taylor’s vision that, through The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) residents of Malawi’s Mulanje District (which has a dangerously high AIDS epidemic) would have access to mobile clinics that test and treat men and women who don’t have the means to get tested on their own. The initiative has turned into an ambitious project where by 2020, 90 percent of people living in the Mulanje District are tested, 90 percent of those diagnosed begin treatment and 90 percent of those on treatment will reach viral suppression.

Among those in attendance was PEPFAR’s Dr. Deborah Birx, who serves as Ambassador at Large and U.S. Special Representative, who sparked the discussion on why there is no better time to continue Taylor’s legacy in full force.

“Having the next generation that says ‘we want to be of the solution that ends this’ is really extraordinarily important. Figuring out how we are going to carry the message to the next generation that we still have enormous risks from HIV and we have the ability to solve this if we do it with the same compassion and respect for persons that Elizabeth Taylor taught us when many of us didn’t step up.”

The gathering was enough to re-energize Sager, who said that making an impact in the AIDS epidemic would still be one of Taylor’s top priorities today.

“She would be out there with that message,” added Sager. “She would bring it to Congress and she would bring it to the world’s attention. When she spoke everyone listened and her passion was contagious. If she were alive today, she would make sure that we were fighting the fight.”

The gathering was enough to re-energize Sager, who said that making an impact in the AIDS epidemic would still be one of Taylor’s top priorities today.

“She would be out there with that message,” added Sager. “She would bring it to Congress and she would bring it to the world’s attention. When she spoke everyone listened and her passion was contagious. If she were alive today, she would make sure that we were fighting the fight.”

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