Andrew Heller of ‘A Gift Of The Heart’: “Give yourself purpose”

Give yourself purpose. Find a reason to be passionate about what you are doing and bite into it like an alligator and hang on for dear life. Be happy. Enjoy what you do it really does help you stay focused in the hard times. Life will never always be smooth. Putting smiles on other peoples […]

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Give yourself purpose. Find a reason to be passionate about what you are doing and bite into it like an alligator and hang on for dear life. Be happy. Enjoy what you do it really does help you stay focused in the hard times. Life will never always be smooth. Putting smiles on other peoples faces will put a smile on yours.

As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Heller.

He was born in Africa and came to the United states to pursue his dream. At the top of his list was acting, writing and directing. After being in the industry for over fifty years he has garnered alot of knowledge an awards.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

Thanks for having me. Funny actually. I was heavy into being an archeologist, although I loved writing and acting. When I got a little older I realized Id be gone all the time and, although a great adventure it would not serve me well, so I changed gears to follow my now, lifelong dream.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

That was probably when I worked on ‘Cape Fear’ with Nick Nolte, Jessica Lang, Robert Deniro and Joe Don Baker amongst others. I was a photo double For Joe Don Baker and he and I got along great. I even have a picture of the two of us showing off our bullet holes to the head. It was an exciting shoot but also the most taxing. The shoot took place in winter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the winter. I spent three days lying on a cold floor in a kitchen in a pool of corn syrup blood. I could not sit at meal times because Id stick to everything.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I first launched in 1988 when Jackie Cooper, a child star who was no older a director gave me my start in film when I asked him to help me get my Union card. That did not sit well with the casting director however and it did hurt me to some extent at the time. Mr. Cooper was very kind and understanding. Joe Don Baker was another wonderful man with whom I spoke a lot about the business and his experiences in it. I found Nick Nolte to be very intense. Ernest Borgnine was also a very kind man who always went out of his way to make everyone feel important. I met many stars over the years, if their names don’t appear here its probably because my interactions with them were not pleasant. I will however say, for the most part, most were very kind. I learned copious amounts from them and I asked a lot of questions. I was a sponge for information. Obviously I can’t list all the people I have met as it would take up pages. I still use the knowledge I garnered from their kindess to this day.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am always up for doing short films to keep my craft in tune. Besides writing screenplays and books I am pursuing funds for two of my projects. One is a horror film called ‘Grinders’ and the other is ‘A Gift Of The Heart”, a beautiful drama.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Winston Churchill is probably one of my favorites. He was a great orator and faced some of the greatest evil man has encountered. He showed immense courage in the midst of a war he knew he might lose. He stood tall on the balcony of his house when the bombs were falling on London. He inspired me to write and fight on for what I believe and gave me a sense of what true grit meant.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

Oh my! I wasn’t expecting this question. I have been vigorously pursuing the funding of my film ‘A Gift Of The Heart’. This film has a mission. It will donate one hundred percent of its net profits to helping kids fight cancer, families in need and homeless veterans. It is also intended to educate people globally for the need to donate organs. I will, at the appropriate moment set up a 501C3 to make sure funds are distributed directly to those who need them. I have also set up a website, where people can participate by donating, getting involved in the project and buying our branded merchandise. All these things help the endeavor. In the recent past I made a short film about cancer and I helped raise money locally for two ladies wo had been battling the dreaded disease. Unfortunately one of the ladies did not survive it. That short film is now on Amazon Prime and is called ‘Maybeline Molly & Me’ Part 1. I do intend to make a part two this year.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

For me it was the passing of my mother who had a long battle with cancer till she finally succumbed to it. It really brought home the view that life was fleeting and once it was gone there was no coming back for a do over. I have never looked back and have made it my passion and purpose touch the world in the best and most positive way I can. This is always highlighted when someone I know dies of cancer. In the last twelve months alone I have lost a high school friend, a best friend and my sister, amongst several aquaintances.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Two ladies, in the past two years. Melanie and Tanya, Melanie survived it but Tanya lost her battle. I garnered the support of a local restaurant and bar called ‘The Wing Shack’. The owner Mr. Sean Case was kind enough give us the venue for a fund raiser for the ladies where we screened ‘Maybeline Molly & Me’ inviting the public to a red carpet event for a donation. Both ladies had breast cancer. Unfortunately Tanya was in stage four and it quickly spread to her lymph nodes, brain and finally her spine. Melanie is cancer free and the money raised between the two events I put on was in excess of ten thousand dollars.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Oh, absolutely. I would love for the general public to really help by buying my books or merchandise on my website so I can fund the film, thereby sending a message to the world and using the profits to help people in their battle. I have had several Governors and state representatives give me State Certificates of Recognition for my fight to do good things. I would love to get more of those perhaps from some senators and even the President himself. If anyone knows of someone who might I’d love them to contact me. Every accolade really helps the project. Governor Asa Hutchinson, Governor Gregg Abbott, Representative Barbara Norton of Louisianna and Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, Florida to name a few who have already participated.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. One was rejection. I wish I had been told that I would have way more rejections as an actor and writer than I would have successes. I had to learn how to handle the negatives and not let it lead me to think I wasn’t good enough. Fact is you are always good enough. Unfortunately n a specific day the variables may not always work in your favor, it is after all a business. Sending books and getting rejection letters did not make going to the mail enjoyable.
  2. Time! The amount of time it would take to get to a point where I thought I had come far enough to feel worthy, accepted. Although I did make progress relatively quickly by most standards the journey has been long and hard at times but I have never given up , or regretted taking the road less travelled.
  3. Don’t take it personally. Especially in the beginning it was hard to keep emotion out of the every day. But all of it seemed to drift away with every win. I learned to get a very thick skin over time. It probably would have behooved me to have that earlier on for sure.
  4. Money. It was going to be a huge investment of limited financial resources and it was going to take a long time to recoup and show a profit. I certainly was under the misguided view that my returns would come faster than they did and I wouldn’t be living on string in the interim. Had I had a little more forsight, I most likely could have prepared myself better financially.
  5. Patience. Wow! Certainly a virtue in this case as many times you sit waiting for an answer that sometimes does not come. Probably would have been really nice to have been told from the get go, Audition and walk away and move on. If you get the call, you get the call, if you don’t, you have already let it go clearing your emotion for the next audition and project.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Give yourself purpose. Find a reason to be passionate about what you are doing and bite into it like an alligator and hang on for dear life. Be happy. Enjoy what you do it really does help you stay focused in the hard times. Life will never always be smooth. Putting smiles on other peoples faces will put a smile on yours.

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Drew Barrymore. Mostly because she is very smart, well read, intelligent , an exceptional business woman and really comes across as being genuine. Of course she is, in my view, the sexiest woman I can think of. I would love to have the opportunity to work with her in some form.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Oh my gosh, I have so many funnily enough. I started many years ago writing down my little ‘Epiphanies’ under the title ‘Mahatma Andy”. Hard to pick a favorite but I’ll try. “Hope is never lost, just temporarily misplaced”. Sometimes in your life’s things get you down to the point where you feel there is no hope and you fall down that dark well so far that you cannot see the light above. I’ve had to, metaphorically, reach into that dark void and grab the water pail of hope to bring myself back to the surface more than once. The meaning being that hope is always there just sometimes not visible and we must reach for it in the dark. I pray for people when I read stories of how they have lost hope.

How can our readers follow you online?

I have an Instagram — agiftoftheheartofficial, Twitter @AgiftOfTheHeart1, Facebook — A Gift Of The Heart, Youtube — A Gift Of The Heart Eastwood and last but not least my website @

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!

Oh my, it’s been my pleasure to share with you and your readers part of my journey. My hope is the reader will find some joy and some hope in my answers. May they all have blessed and happy days.

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