Mary Willis White ’13, co-founder of Heiress Productions, is turning a family history of cancer into a legacy of great theater, cancer awareness, and fundraising for charitable cancer organizations.
White met her co-founder and friend Laura Faith in an acting class where they bonded over a passion for theater and an unfortunate history of cancer in their families. Both of White’s parents were cancer survivors, while Faith lost her mother to cancer and her sister was fighting stage III melanoma. “We were both members of a ‘club’ that you really didn’t want to be part of, but we were glad to have each other for support,” said White.
As both White and Faith were “heiresses” to a legacy of cancer, in 2006 they formed Heiress Productions, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit theatre production company that raises awareness and relief funds for cancer organizations. The goal of Heiress Productions is to keep expanding their network of supporters, charitable cancer organizations and eventually have a regular season of productions.
Heiress Productions produces one show per season at the Lion Theater on Theatre Row in Times Square. Their next production will be the winner of the Heiress Productions’ 2012 Playwriting Competition. For each production, they identify a charitable cancer organization that will receive the proceeds of the play and free advertising space in Heiress Production’s playbills.
“We have had such a great response to both our mission and our productions,” said White. “Our supporters are those people with connections to the cancer community who want to support the mission, and those who just love great theater.”
White, who will join the boutique real estate firm Kriss & Feuerstein as an associate in the fall, said that her legal training has been especially helpful in running a non-profit organization. “Being able to handle some of the organization’s legal issues as they arise frees up more of other people’s time to devote to production and funds to donate to the cause” she said. In fact, the last production, called “Thirds” had a legal theme; it was about three sisters who inherited a house. Spoken like a true lawyer, White explained: “It was a great show filled with fun contracts and real estate issues.”