Obi Ndefo is an actor and screenwriter. He’s been in “Dawson’s Creek,” “Star Trek” and “The West Wing.” A Nigerian-American Jew, he founded Arts Alliance for Humanity, bringing artists together from around the world to unite and uplift the planet.
Last summer, while loading groceries into his trunk in Los Angeles, he was hit by a drunk driver. He lost both legs, but remained tremendously positive and determined. Nine weeks later he was back teaching yoga to special needs youngsters, and taking on new acting, writing and directing roles.
Obi believes things happen “for him,” not “to him.”
Jamie Mann is a rising senior at Staples High School. A very talented dancer, actor and singer, his credits include “Billy Elliot” (national tour), “Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake” with New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey at the Apollo Theater, “Because of Winn Dixie” (Goodspeed Opera House), and numerous Staples Players shows.
A few months ago, Jamie was in Hollywood filming Netflix’s new musical show “Country Comfort.” Suddenly COVID-19 struck, and production stopped.
Obi and Jamie’s dad were friends from their Yale University days. Jamie had heard stories about what a great actor and singer he was.
While running in his Silver Lake neighborhood, Jamie saw Obi doing 1-hand pushups in his driveway. Suddenly, his father’s stories about Obi and his inspiring personality came to life.
When he learned that Obi had a GoFundMe page for new prosthetic legs, and to cover medical costs, Jamie decided to help.
He contacted “Country Comfort” cast mates (and Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block, father of one of them). He asked for videos of their performances.
Then he reached out to other actors and performers across the country. Among the many who helped, Josie Todd submitted a touching song and message to Obi; her brother has special needs.
Analise Scarpaci — who Jamie idolized, and is in “Mrs. Doubtfire” on Broadway — sang a very moving “Somewhere.”
Obi’s friend Gina Belafonte — Harry’s daughter — provided a tremendous tune. Chazz Palminteri got involved too.
Jamie also got great content from Obi’s a cappella friends from Yale.
Jamie’s mom, Jill Johnson Mann, began turning it all into a livestream. She asked a friend for help.
He’s a huge “Stargate” fan — Obi was a series regular — and when he heard about the accident, he was honored to lend a hand.
“This is about more than one man, known for his kindness, undying optimism and activism,” Jamie says.
“It’s about the positive attitude and resilience we all need to overcome the challenges of the uncertain era we’re in. From Obi’s wisdom and a peek into his new TV project, to songs from Broadway stars and exciting newcomers — my friends, cast mates, Obi’s friends and others — this will be a great cabaret.”
Viewers will be able to donate to Obi’s GoFundMe page (you can do so right now too; click here.)
“Let’s change his life, so he can keep inspiring all of us,” Jamie says.