It all started with a documentary from Iceland called A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism. The film needed an English-language narrator, and Oscar-winner Kate Winslet was sent a copy to watch. The story of Margret Ericsdottir’s journey to discover whether her severely autistic 11-year-old son, Keli, would ever be able to speak moved the actress. It changed her. “I . . . knew I couldn’t just lend my voice to this documentary and go home,” she says in an interview with Ladies’ Home Journal.
Winslet and Ericsdottir became close friends since meeting for the film. After A Mother’s Courage was released in 2010, Winslet helped to organize the Golden Hat Foundation, which raises money and awareness for autism. The name of the foundation refers to a poem Keli once wrote about having a “golden hat” to help him speak. One of Winslet’s projects for the cause is a coffee-table book of self-portraits in which celebrities wear the same trilby hat. The book, which will be released this spring, is called The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism.
The idea for the book came about when Winslet was brushing her teeth one night. She was looking for a way to connect the nonverbal world with a world of people who had found success through their abilities to communicate. She then was struck by the thought of having all these people in the public eye take pictures of themselves wearing a hat she had.
Winslet recalls some of the things she did to get the hat to famous people. “I gate-crashed a private function to get the hat to Bill Clinton . . . unfortunately he was surrounded by handlers who wouldn’t let him put it on,” she tells Ladies’ Home Journal. She and her two children also took a road trip to Baltimore to watch Michael Phelps swim and give him the hat to wear. George Clooney and Meryl Streep are among the other people featured in The Golden Hat Talking Back to Autism.
To learn more about the Golden Hat Foundation, visit their website.
To read the full Ladies’ Home Journal interview with Kate Winslet, go here.