Jurnee Smollett’s Best Friend
By now, everyone probably knows who actress, Jurnee Smollett (36), is. Since she was a child, she’s taken the film industry by storm. However, many people don’t know that her best friend is Hydeia Broadbent, who also became a public figure at a very young age.
As we previously reported, Hydeia’s the former child H I V/AIDS activist who beat the odds and learned to live with the virus. But not only is she living with it, she’s thriving. Today, at age 37, Hydeia is still an advocate for H I V awareness. Over the years, she’s touched the hearts of many. In the process, she also caught the attention of Jurnee.
At a time when Jurnee was rising to fame with her roles in films, like Eve’s Bayou, and hit sitcoms, like Full House, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and On Our Own, she noticed a 6-year-old girl on television for a very different reason. The H I V-positive little girl was featured in a mock wedding, because she wanted to get married before dying. The heart-wrenching imagery touched Jurnee’s heart.
During an interview, the two ladies reflected on the series of events that led to the birth of their beautiful friendship. Jurnee revealed what it was like to see Hydeia on television when they were children:
“She was my first image of H I V/AIDS,” said Jurnee. “And I was like, ‘Wait, she looks like me.’ This is something that could happen to me or my siblings. And also she was just so raw; she exposed her heart. Even though I didn’t know her, I had this instant love for her.”
The television program altered Jurnee’s perspective of the virus, and she, too, decided that she would advocate for AIDS awareness. Then at the age of 13, Jurnee had the opportunity to present the Black AIDS Institute’s first Heroes in the Struggle Award, At the event, which took place in Los Angeles, CA, Jurnee finally got the chance to meet the one person who had impacted her life at a young age – Hydeia Broadbent.
Hydeia Broadbent’s Reaction To Meeting Jurnee
Hydeia recalled Jurnee’s reaction to meeting her. The moment was much more emotional than they both expected:
“I remember looking at her like, ‘Why is she crying? Who is this girl?’”
The ladies laughed as they recalled the day they met. Jurnee added:
“It was incredibly inspiring. She’d had such a mighty struggle and yet was so bold and audacious when the stigma was at an all-time high. It was ground zero.”
The memorable day was the start to a beautiful friend. Despite living more than 300 miles apart, Jurnee and Hydeia have kept in contact over the years and they’ve been there for each other through really difficult times:
“In high school, the kids were scared of me,” said Hydeia, “and Jurnee kept me centered—she poured life into me.”
Throughout the evolution of Jurnee’s career, Hydeia has also been by her side.
Now, they are both working together to continue their plight to raise awareness of H I V.
“We’ve spoken to students who thought you could get AIDS from a toilet, or from sleeping in the same bed, or from tears,” Jurnee said. “What allows this disease to spread is our silence. That, and women’s lack of self-worth, because even now we’re often the last to protect ourselves. We need to rethink that. We need to take our power in relationships to say, ‘I own my sexuality and my future.’”
In addition to their success with advocacy, Hydeia has also made progress with her condition. Now that AIDS treatments have improved drastically, Hydeia has also reaped the benefits of medical advancements:
“I still have complications,” said Hydeia. “But I went from taking, like, 100 pills a day to, now, only five.”
Jurnee Paid Homage To Hydeia Online
In an online birthday post that Jurnee Smollett posted for her friend Hydeia Broadbent, she referred to her as being ‘anointed’:
“Look at God. What a blessing you are to our lives. You have an anointing on your life, and it radiates through you. Consistently using your life to better the lives of others, you are a walking example of triumph in the face of adversity…having you as my best friend has shown me what walking in your calling looks like and I feel honored to call you my boo, my soul sister, the ying to my yang…I adore you.”