Actress Holly Robinson Peete is known for her roles on television shows including “21 Jump Street” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” (along with a short-lived stint on “The Talk”).
Her appearance in Atlanta this Thursday has little to do with showbiz, though. She’ll be at the Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown for a talk and book signing hosted by the Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine, drawing on her experiences as the daughter of a Parkinson’s patient and the mother of a son with autism.
“When our son was diagnosed with autism in 2000, I didn’t really see anyone talking about this,” she said. “I had been dealing with my father with Parkinson’s and was like, what now? What next?”
Her father, actor Matt Robinson, died in 2002. Her son R.J. is 15 and exceeding doctors’ early expectations.
“They told me he would never have any meaningful conversation,” she said. “The other day he told me, ‘Hey, Mom, I’m glad you got your workout in!’ We feel extremely blessed. We never thought he would have language, and he can’t stop talking, which is beautiful.”
Thursday’s event starts with a 6 p.m. cocktail party for sponsors. A presentation by Peete, followed by a discussion panel featuring clinical experts who will discuss autism and mitochondrial and Parkinson’s diseases, starts at 7 p.m. The event concludes with a book signing and champagne reception. Peete co-authored the children’s book “My Brother Charlie,” with her daughter Ryan Elizabeth Peete, based on her autistic son.
Tickets are $50 each for general admission and $125 for VIP admission. For information, see this website, call 770-886-5606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“While we dealt with it as a family, we knew we would have the opportunity to use our platform,” said Peete, who is married to NFL player-turned-broadcaster Rodney Peete. “We ended up realizing we could do a lot more good.”
Along with speaking engagements and raising R.J. and her three other children, Peete is working on a line of home decor products and clothing, and considering other acting projects. In Atlanta perhaps?
“It’s Hollywood Southeast,” she said. “I have so many friends who are working down there now. I’ve got a bunch of girlfriends down there. I cannot wait to come down there and do this presentation.”
She and Rodney considered moving the family to Atlanta years ago, but work kept them in Los Angeles. For now, they’re looking forward to indulging in a little Southern comfort food.
“It’s a big excuse to eat,” she said. “We do want to come get our grub on. Then I’ll come back here and do a juice cleanse!”