A Lasting Friendship
JoBeth Williams and Ryan Roanhorse
JoBeth Williams is known to most of the entertainment—loving population as a successful screen and television actress. To Navajo resident, Ryan Roanhorse, though, she is a friend offering guidance and support. His association with JoBeth began in 1996 when she chose Ryan from a list of students waiting for mentors in the Futures for Children Friendship program. Ryan was seven years old at the time, and the two immediately began developing the close connection that would foster a friendship lasting 16 years, to date. Through mail and phone calls, they constructed the building blocks of a rapport that would become a priority in both their lives. From the beginning, JoBeth was impressed with Ryan’s intelligence and drive to succeed. He seemed to possess an intuitive understanding of what he wanted to accomplish and the actions required to reach his goals. In addition to being a gifted student, Ryan possesses athletic skill as well. He played soccer in grade school and used his physical prowess in high school to excel at another sport -- distance running.
Though they communicated regularly, it was two years before JoBeth and Ryan met in person. Ryan and his mother, Mary, met JoBeth in Albuquerque where she was attending a film festival. JoBeth received a warm reception and was moved by the Roanhorse’s kindness and generosity. Ryan and Mary did not at first realize that she was a TV/movie actress. They were surprised when informed of this fact and expressed a desire to see her work; thereafter, always politely enquiring about her latest project. In 2007, JoBeth made her first visit to the Navajo reservation in Arizona to celebrate Ryan’s graduation from Ganado High School. At this event, she presented a speech to the graduating seniors offering congratulations and encouragement in their pursuit of individual fulfillment and success.
Ryan was inspired to succeed through the example set by both JoBeth and his mother. Mary worked as a librarian for a number of years before returning to school to further her education. She then acquired a job within the school district, which provided her with more challenging work and better pay. Following in his mother’s footsteps, Ryan attended Dine College for two years, afterwards transferring to Northern Arizona University where he has been majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Along with the pertinent courses in hospitality management, his study requires specialized knowledge in many fields including business finances, economics, science, hospitality law, and even information technology. His ambition and persistence continue to enable him to achieve high grades at university as well. Ryan will graduate in spring of 2013, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in his chosen field.
JoBeth was introduced to the Futures for Children’s Friendship/Mentorship program at a brunch she attended in Santa Fe with fellow actor, Kevin Costner. They were working together on Wyatt Earp, when Kevin, who was already actively involved as a Future’s mentor, encouraged JoBeth to attend the brunch with him as his guest. She was impressed with the presentation given by a Future’s representative and inquired about involvement as a mentor.
Despite the many accomplishments and privileges she has experienced as a result of her acting career, JoBeth maintains that her years spent as Ryan’s mentor have been an especially rewarding facet of her life. She offered this statement about their relationship, “I have gotten much more out of this friendship than Ryan has received from me.” She insists that what she bestowed in gifts and monetary assistance could never match the personal enrichment Ryan’s friendship has afforded her. JoBeth says that she frequently employed Ryan’s ambition as a means to motivate her own two sons when they were growing up.
After 16 years as a mentor, JoBeth has nothing but praise for the Friendship program, stating that the program is “extraordinary” and expressing her desire that others will recognize the value of becoming involved with Futures for Children. Longtime friendships are to be treasured and JoBeth Williams and Ryan Roanhorse intend to continue their relationship for many years to come. JoBeth looks forward to maintaining an active presence in Ryan’s future and to celebrating his many accomplishments.
JoBeth Williams is a film and television actress who has made over thirty-five movies. She is probably best known for her role as the mother in Steven Speilberg’s movies “Poltergeist” and “Poltergiest 2”, as well as “The Big Chill”. Other films include the recent “The Big Year”, opposite Steve Martin, American Dreamer, Stir Crazy, Fever Pitch, and Switch, among many. She has received three Emmy, two Golden Globe, and an Oscar nomination. Her recent television work includes playing Kate Walsh’s mother on “Private Practice”, “NCIS”, and “Hart of Dixie”. She is board president of the charity, The Screen Actors’ Guild Foundation.