The People Who Really Make a Difference

by Patti Gras

I am a very lucky gal. I get to meet famous people, but most importantly I get to discover people “who aren’t but should be famous or well known.” I actually search for those quiet heroes. When I began my career, I was so excited about meeting the celebrities.

I remember my first interview was with the Minister of Culture of Greece! Can you imagine? I was interviewing the representative of the Western cradle of civilization, the first democracy, the land of Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras. I realized that day that I loved being a reporter, an interviewer.

Over time, I got to meet lots of famous people. I interviewed presidents, actors, inventors, writers—in sum, household names, but as I did more interviews, I became aware they really did more for my ego than my soul. It was the quiet, unknown people who changed my life. One of the most important projects I did in my life was shot in Romania. I worked on a series on pediatric AIDS. I saw kids die of a disease that didn’t have a cure at the time. One day I interviewed a 12-year-old child, Michaela, who had AIDS. She seemed very healthy when I interviewed her, but she died a week after my interview. She changed my life.

Thanks to Michaela, I realized I needed to focus on what I needed to do to improve the world, be proactive, not just an observer in awe of the celebrity status of some of my guests. When I was given the opportunity to produce and host “Living Smart,” I continued this tradition.

I searched for the folks who have changed the world without much fanfare. Here are some of the examples: John Sage, who runs a restorative justice program in prisons after his sister was murdered; Marilyn Gambrell; who helps teens whose parents are incarcerated; Hitaji Aziz, who hosts a radio show to help men deal with their own inner demons. I thank them and the celebrities for teaching me such great life lessons. I thank them all for enlightening me in their own special way.

John Sage and Restorative Justice

Hitaji Aziz and Healing Men

Marilyn Gambrell on No More Victims (Healing Children)

Texas Conference for Women speaker Patricia Gras is an ardent storyteller, whether it is using the medium of television or music. Her current award-winning show “Living Smart” with Patricia Gras is now airing on over 200 PBS channels across the country. Across her career, has produced and hosted some of the most respected television programs in Houston, including, “Latina Voices: Smart Talk with Minerva Perez and Sofia Adrogue.” Gras is the recipient of more than 170 journalism awards, including six regional and Lone Star Emmy Awards and 16 national Tellys.