You may know Chyler Leigh for her portrayals in Not Another Teen Movie, Grey’s Anatomy and Supergirl. She and musician-husband Nathan West also run a company that’s a go-to source to learn, in part, about the altruism of people in the entertainment industry. Leigh and West, who worked together on the TV series 7th Heaven, have three children, and support the Thirst Project, a non-profit organization that brings safe drinking water to communities around the world. ABILITY’s Chet Cooper recently spoke with Leigh about all of her projects.
Chet Cooper: Can you talk about your latest project?
Chyler Leigh: Sure. My husband and I started a company called Charity Pulse. We’re just in the very beginning stages, but what we’re trying to do is to be a go-to source to learn about people in the industry, whether they’re musicians, actors or athletes—anybody who is given a significant position of influence. It’s taking what we do by trade and viewing it through a more altruistic lens. When you see somebody come up, any particular celebrity, and something comes out about them that might become negative, we’re trying with our website to go in between as a buffer and say, “Yes, OK, this might be one thing, but did you know this person also supports such-and-such? Here’s a little bit more information about whatever charity they’re working with.” We’re trying to open the eyes of people who might perceive celebrities as narcissistic. We’re trying to show the connection between people in the entertainment field and charity work, and bring it all together to let people know.
Cooper: Do you have a website yet?
Leigh: We’re in the beginning phase of it. Our website is going to a second-phase launch this week. My part is a section called “10 for 10.” The website has three segments that will talk about people who are ordinary citizens and those who want to find something to be passionate about, so our website is a place to learn about local charities. People can find something that they’re into, and then we’ll put a spotlight on ordinary citizens who are doing something really amazing. We also have a segment about modern icons—in other words, finding well-known people in the entertainment business. I wrote a piece about David Bowie and his effects—
Cooper: Before or after?
Leigh: After. I talked about his charity work. A lot of people didn’t know how involved he was with local charities and with the AIDS Foundation. I didn’t know a lot of those things either. Looking back, I was very humbled by it, thinking, “My gosh, if only I had known those things, and not found out in the aftermath.” So I have a segment called “10 for 10,” which is about finding people in the industry and asking 10 questions in 10 minutes to find out what the altruistic motivation is behind what they’re doing and what they’re involved with. I ask them some fun questions, but also deeper questions, to learn more about them, so people have more than just the gossip side of someone’s life. They can understand a little bit more about that person’s heart, what they’re working towards and what they’re passionate about.
Cooper: And then you’ll put the 10 for 10 interview up on your website?
Leigh: Yes. I did my first 10 for 10. I’m on the show, Supergirl, and one of my coworkers is David Harewood. He’s an amazing man. He was my first 10 for 10, which will be up on CharityPulse.org this week. It’ll be a podcast version of our interview, but I also wrote a piece about him. He’s done incredible work with the Anthony Nolan Foundation.
Cooper: So the website will have three segments: a podcast-type 10 for 10 segment, the everyday citizens doing good work, and what was the third part?
Leigh: That’ll offer information on local charities. The everyday citizens are those people who are real stand outs in their communities.
Cooper: Which segment is about doing good work?
Leigh: That’s called “Modern Citizen”. And then the “Pulse” is where you come to understand the charities we’re highlighting and also asking people to help us be aware of them as well. So if you know of a foundation that you’re excited about, submit it to us. If you want to piece this and this, eventually that’ll be part of what we’re doing, too—being able to provide people with something like a questionnaire to help them narrow down what it is that they’re passionate about based upon their likes and dislikes or something they want to learn more about. And then we can couple them with another charity, so they’re running in their own lane and are able to be more hands-on.
Cooper: Interesting. We should try to work together. We’ve been publishing for 25 years. We’ve interviewed so many celebrities and influential people. We never did a 10 for 10, but we could tie things in together so we could do—”And now for Charity Pulse, we’re going to ask you 10 for 10,” and then feed that back.
Leigh: Great! I would love that. Since we’re in the beginning stages, we’re just getting everything down to put up on the website, so everyone can understand it.
Cooper: So you’re a writer as well?
Leigh: Yeah. My husband’s a musician. We do music together. He’s in the middle of recording a five-song EP and he’ll put that out pretty quickly, too.
Cooper: What kind of music?
Leigh: It’s his band. It’s a band that’s hard to categorize. It would be more like Indie pop culture.
Cooper: Will he be promoting Charity Pulse as part of his awareness when he’s on tour?
Leigh: Yeah. That’s where his hands are right now. Besides the music, he is getting the website established and running. I’ve been working on the show, but that’s where I can use my influence and my position to find people to interview and ask them these questions. It’s simple and it’s fun, and at the same time it helps people tie those things together.
Cooper: You’ve got several people here you should do that with right now.
Leigh: Well, yeah, I need to know them and know what I’m talking about so when I ask them—
Cooper: Oh, I thought the 10 for 10 interviews are about asking standard questions?
Leigh: No. I want to be able to tailor the questions. Many will be the same questions, but I don’t want just a surface interview but more, “Help me understand what is the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with in your life? How did you overcome it? How did it influence you to be the person you are?”
Cooper: It’ll be more than 10 minutes!
Leigh: You’d be surprised. Some of the questions are like, “If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?” That’s a quick one, and it leaves room for those moments when people have longer answers. That’s the goal, the 10 minutes, but I’m not going to be like, “Oh, no, sorry!” We’re doing it fresh in order to bring an altruistic lens to the entertainment industry.