What Slates for Sarah means to Hollywood, and how to help
During a tragic turn of events, 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones was fatally injured last week while filming a biopic about Southern rock icon Gregg Allman. In the wake of the devastating loss, Hollywood's film community is rallying together in a profoundly touching way. Here's what they're doing... and how you can help.
Who was Sarah Jones?
A native of West Columbia and graduate of College of Charleston in South Carolina, Jones began her career as an intern on the set of Lifetime's Army Wives and worked her way up the industry ranks to camera assistant.
By all accounts, the 27-year-old Atlanta resident was an extremely talented and sweet individual. She was someone who wasn't afraid to break into a "hilarious" dance to make her friends laugh. She was apparently a bit of a foodie with a penchant for ice cream and a passion for bacon (so much so that her nicknames included "the baconator"). She was someone who, according to friends, always had a smile on her face. She is described as a selfless team player. She was, in a nutshell, a wonderful person.
Actor Ian Somerhalder, who knew Jones through her work on The Vampire Diaries, said she was like a sister to him. His co-star, Nina Dobrev, mourned the loss of a "beautiful soul" who was "a dear friend."
"From the heights of the mountains she hiked, to the depths of the oceans she dove (and never without a camera to record her experiences), the gift of her presence was felt far and wide," says her obituary. "To have heard of Sarah was a privilege, to have known Sarah was a blessing. It was to feel an energy that was infectious and kind."
What is Slates for Sarah?
Shortly after news of Jones' tragic passing broke, friends and family created the Facebook page Slates for Sarah with a simple request: "Show your slate love here along with all the good stories of her life."
The response has been nothing short of amazing.
In the time it has taken to write this article, the Slates for Sarah community has grown by thousands, currently hovering at just over 17,000. Television and film productions from all over the world (see below) — everyone from Scandal to Sharknado 2 and more — have sent in slates in honor of their fallen peer, creating a virtual tapestry of love and support.
As new details in the investigation into Jones' tragic death have emerged, possibly indicating disregard by her employer for safety procedures "typical of a film shoot that has cooperation of the railroad," Slates for Sarah has become representative of a movement to push for more stringent safety protocols in the film industry.
Eric Henson, one of Jones' friends responsible for creating Slates for Sarah, notes that Sarah's death was a wake-up call for their industry. "That's part of what Slates for Sarah has become," he explained. "It's a really tragic situation, but it's given us an opportunity to look at how we make films and how to make it a safer environment."
Photo credit: Jane Allison Fleck, via FacebookPhoto credit: Jennifer A Stuart, via FacebookPhoto credit: Matthew Guiza, via FacebookPhoto credit: Darren Ryan, via FacebookPhoto credit: Robert Dulys, via FacebookPhoto credit: Ryan McGregor, via FacebookPhoto credit: Jennifer Clasen, via FacebookPhoto credit: Penny Sprague, via FacebookPhoto credit: Leslie Totta Puckett, via FacebookPhoto credit: Bruce Lawson, via FacebookPhoto credit: David Kirschner, via FacebookPhoto credit: Ek Keratsis, via FacebookPhoto credit: Missy Toy Ozeas, via FacebookPhoto credit: Tracy Facelli, via FacebookPhoto credit: Steven Hacker, via FacebookPhoto credit: David Berryman, via FacebookPhoto credit: Robert Duncan, via FacebookPhoto credit: Christopher Garland, via FacebookPhoto credit: Christopher Lucchese, via FacebookPhoto credit: John Oliveri, via FacebookPhoto credit: Heather Kehayas, via FacebookPhoto credit: Candice Cardasis, via FacebookPhoto credit: Richard Gonzales, via FacebookPhoto credit: Nathan Crum, via FacebookPhoto credit: Jeff Saldin, via FacebookPhoto credit: Kurt Jones, via FacebookPhoto credit: Mary Arthurs, via FacebookPhoto credit: James Tripp Pair, via FacebookPhoto credit: Kyle Jewell, via FacebookPhoto credit: Caitlynn Leary, via Facebook
How can I help?
A motto has emerged among Hollywood's film community following Jones' death — we are all Sarah Jones. And while the film community's connection to Jones is personal and deeply rooted, the truth is we really are all Sarah in some ways. Maybe it is Jones' love for cinematography that you share. Or maybe it's her appreciation for ice cream that resonates with you. If you look, there's a common thread.
There are two things you can do right now to honor the connection you feel to this extraordinary individual, should you feel so moved. First, head over to the petition campaign launched to include Jones in the "In Memoriam" segment of Sunday's Oscarcast and add your name.
Second, get out your checkbook or pull out that $10 bill you were going to spend on a latte and muffin and instead send it (the money, not the muffin... although it seems that may be something Jones would have appreciated too) to the Sarah Jones Scholarship Fund, c/o Brookland-Cayce High School, 1300 State Street, Cayce, South Carolina 29033. Your donation will help students at Jones' alma mater on their way to becoming people of impact, like Sarah.