Julie Andrews has been keeping very busy of late with her involvement in planning a March 29 memorial tribute to her husband of 41 years, esteemed filmmaker Blake Edwards. That’s the word from her daughter and coauthor, Emma Walton Hamilton, who acknowledges, “Even though he’d been unwell for some time and was 88 years old, it’s been a difficult transition for the family that has had an impact these last few months.” Edwards, whose honor is being put on jointly by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild and Writers Guild, died of pneumonia Dec. 15.
It certainly appears that Julie’s continuing to live life to the full even as she deals with her grief. “She’s in terrific shape and she’s always been a person of huge enthusiasm,” Emma points out. Julie and Emma have several book deadlines they’re working toward. Julie also plans to direct a play this fall, according to her daughter. And Julie and Emma are to be honored themselves April 4, at New York’s Chelsea Piers at the “Stars of Stony Brook 2011 Gala,” a benefit for Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
Emma is glad for the opportunity to help spotlight the good work of the hospital, where her own daughter was born, as well as to talk about her passion, reading for young people. “Mostly, it’s just a lovely honor,” says Emma, who has co-authored 20 children’s books with her mother, as well as the noted Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment. She is also a faculty member of Stony Brook University and director of its annual Children’s Literature Conference, its MFA in Writing and Literature Conference, The Southampton Playwriting Conference and YAWP (The Young America Writers Conference), an inter-disciplinary writing program for middle and high school students.
Of the latter, she explains, “It’s a program about voice, about finding their authentic voice and expressing that creatively, and using creative writing to solve problems. They’re actually excited by this. They feel empowered by it. It’s the sort of thing where you get to watch kids have these extraordinary breakthroughs.”