Heart to Heart

by Rona Berg

Jaime King is fierce, passionate, intelligent and rankled by injustice. We chatted for 40 minutes over and beyond the scheduled time as she asked me questions about myself and we established common ground on social justice, women’s health, politics and more.

I’ve interviewed a lot of celebrities, but never one as engaged and caring. King doesn’t hesitate to use her huge platform to raise awareness on issues she cares about—especially inequities in women’s health. Most of the time, when you interview a celebrity, you get the celebrity first. The veneer is thick, the patter is practiced and it takes tenacity and skill to break through to the real person. That is not the case with King. The actor, activist, producer and founder of Hooligan Dreamers, an all-female production company, is known for her roles in White Chicks, Sin City, Hart of Dixie, Barely Lethal and more. Warm, connected and caring, she’s a human being who just happens to be famous.

King is well aware of the power of her platform, and uses it in her new role as Director of Impact for Allara, the first online platform for women’s reproductive issues, specifically Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS, a condition where the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, affects one in 10 women of childbearing age, with an estimated half going undiagnosed. It resonates with King on a personal level. “As soon as I was presented with the opportunity there was a visceral reaction and immediate connection,” she says. “I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis when I was 26 years old.” That same year, King suffered the first of five miscarriages, followed by five rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and 26 intrauterine inseminations (IUI).

It took years, with King cycling through nine doctors, before she got her diagnosis. “When I finally found the doctor who diagnosed me, he said, ‘Women are not supposed to be in chronic pain.’ I had never heard that in my entire life.” Before that, she was told she would never be able to have a child. “No one knew what was happening with me. It was so isolating, so lonely. Everyone had something different to say. I felt like I was living in hell. The amount of money it cost to have all the rounds of IVF, all the surgeries, all the IUIs, was astronomical.” After four and a half years of trying, King ultimately conceived her first child naturally, and she is now the mother of two boys.

When King realized how widespread PCOS is, she decided to speak out. “Women’s healthcare is radically broken, especially for those in marginalized communities,” she says. “Look what’s happening in the Supreme Court. They’re trying to eradicate and defund women’s healthcare clinics. It’s like we’re going backwards in time. Allara comes from such a deep place of loving and care and community, and that’s what’s needed.”

Allara takes a holistic approach and provides women with doctors and medical care, nutritional counseling and community. “PCOS affects you not only physically,” says King, “but emotionally, mentally, spiritually.” Allara was founded by Rachel Blank, who also suffers from PCOS, and says: “What can be frustrating about common conditions like PCOS, is that a lot of women think they’re alone. They don’t get the care they need. And there is a stigma,” she continues. “The core of so much for many women is entwined with the ability to have children.”

For King, it’s really important to bring awareness and education. As members of Allara, women receive real-time, on-demand virtual care, onboarding video visits with their medical provider and registered dietician, advanced lab ordering and review, prescription for medications if needed, regular check-in visits, one-on-one care. “No one should have to spend years of their life trying to figure out what to do like I did,” she says. “It’s so consuming. To have that one-on-one care is a game changer.”

Symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, fertility issues, acne, irregular periods, facial hair, and the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. “It’s not just a fertility issue,” says Blank. “If left untreated, it can be life-threatening.” The typical demographic is in the 20- to 45-year-old range, but PCOS can onset at puberty and affect any woman.

King says she sometimes felt like she was literally hanging by a thread: “I lost so many babies, I had so many miscarriages, I had so many invasive procedures.” To cope, she meditated and spent time with good friends like Lena Dunham, who went through a similar experience; Jessica Alba, who is godmother to one of her boys; and Taylor Swift, a close friend and godmother to her other son. “I had a lot of tools to work with: intention setting, balanced eating, a lot of therapy, my circle of friends. What got me through is the activist part of it,” says King. “I have a real thing about injustice, and when I see areas of injustice that deeply resonate with me, I don’t know how not to speak up. If there’s something that pulls my heart and my soul to whatever the situation or circumstance is, I just have to see how I can strategically and lovingly problem-solve and take actionable steps toward whatever goals are needed.”

That and spending as much time as possible in her backyard with her sons, who love to DJ dance sets, water balloon fights, creating art and just generally goofing around. “Every parent knows, having a balanced life is a work in progress,” says King. “You’re trying to catch every moment. I just want to create meaningful memories with my kids, and sometimes that can be 10 minutes sitting on the grass blowing bubbles.”

For King, fame is a means to an end. “Fame means nothing to me,” she says. “I don’t do this to be famous. The only purpose of fame for me is to be able to reach more people. If fame helps get a message across and allows me to do greater and bigger work in the world and reflect humanity back to humanity and do something like be Director of Impact for Allara, that’s what fame is about for me.”

Jaime King’s Healthy Lifestyle Tips

“I’ve been on this journey of health and well-being for so long, as we all have,” says King. “And it’s shifted dramatically because of the collective consciousness of trauma that’s happening to all of us through the pandemic.” Here are her go-to tips.

1. Find a therapist.

“Now more than ever, mental health is key,” she says. “Find another person you can go to who’s a neutral party and can be of service to you.”

2. Move.

Get in at least 20 minutes of bilateral movement daily. “It’s good for your brain, especially during these stressful traumatic times, and it helps balance your hormones and serotonin.”

3. Explore magnesium.

“It’s calming, and helps ease anxiety, whether you get it through celery juice or supplements.”

4. Get sun.

Even 10 minutes a day is really important for mood-lifting.

5. Have fun.

It’s so easy to get locked up in the grind of emails. “Take time to have fun: watch comedy, look at your favorite memes, read a book, play with your kids.”

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