Best Celebrity Second Act 2011: Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen
Jon Bon Jovi
Bio: Middle-aged rock superstar Bon Jovi has found a second act as a hunger and anti-poverty activist.
Attitude: "This road was paved by the hopeless and the hungry, this road was paved by the winds of change." -- Bon Jovi, in his song "We Weren't Born to Follow"
Bon Jovi, who turns 50 in March, and wife Dorothea recently opened the JBJ Soul Kitchen, an innovative restaurant in Red Bank, N.J., that not only aims to provide better nutrition to impoverished residents, but also gives patrons an opportunity to earn their meals and play a role in the project. The Soul Kitchen's menu is a far cry from the fare at most soup kitchens -- on a recent evening, the menu featured rainbow beet salad, butternut squash soup, chicken in Creole sauce and other items that you might find in a gourmet dining spot. But Bon Jovi, whose eponymous group earned an estimated $200 million over the past year in concert revenues and album sales, doesn't take credit cards. If a diner doesn't have enough cash -- $10 minimum per person -- he or she can pay with vouchers earned through volunteer work. "At a time when one in five families is living at or below the poverty line and one in six children in New Jersey is food-insecure, this is a restaurant whose time has come," says the rocker, who's following a community restaurant model that's being tried at a dozen other places around the nation. When Bon Jovi isn't performing or attending a White House conference on poverty, he sometimes quietly slips into the kitchen and washes dishes. The restaurant is just one of Bon Jovi's numerous efforts over the years to help his down-on-their-luck fellow New Jersey residents. Back in 2004, as this SecondAct story details, he and his wife helped raise $500,000 to build a new clinic in Red Bank for Volunteers in Medicine, a group that enlists retired physicians and nurses to provide free medical care to the uninsured.
Honorable Mention: Jane Pauley, TV journalist
After her daytime talk show was axed in 2005 after just one season, Pauley found herself unemployed for the first time and says she felt like a failure. But the 61-year-old former star of the Today Show and Dateline managed to create a second role for herself. In collaboration with AARP, Pauley has returned to network TV with a monthly Today segment called "Your Life Calling with Jane Pauley" that focuses on people 50 and older who, like her, have reinvented their careers and lives. "'Your Life Calling' is the first thing in my long career that I've ever actually invented," Pauley tells SecondAct. "It is my entrepreneurial debut." Pauley's goal is to help others in her age group by providing them with a wealth of templates of midlife reinvention -- "seeds of inspiration" -- that they also can follow.
Honorable Mention: Steven Tyler, rock star and American Idol judge
When Tyler was named to the cast of Fox's venerable talent contest series last year, the smart money said that he would bomb. Instead, the skeletal, scarf-shrouded, pouty-lipped Aerosmith lead singer, who previously was best known for his jaded, self-indulgent amorous and chemical excesses, pulled off a truly startling metamorphosis. By emerging as a refreshingly unpretentious, funny, supportive and at times even nurturing panelist, the 63-year-old Tyler showed that it's never too late to reinvent yourself. Here's a SecondAct piece analyzing what we can learn from his example.
Honorable Mention: Kirstie Alley, actress, dancer and exercise leader
The former Cheers star, whose frustrating battles with her increasing girth provided the tabloids with ample fodder, accomplished an astonishing feat in 2011. As a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, she and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy managed to finish second, but what really startled and thrilled audiences was how Alley -- following a daily regimen of dancing and an organic diet -- visibly shed more and more weight as the series progressed. Ultimately, she lost more than 100 pounds, and slimmed down to size 6. Since the competition, she's tried to incorporate plenty of ballroom dancing into her lifestyle. Alley, who jokingly told People magazine that using a treadmill "would make me slit my throat," provided us with proof that you don't have to spend long hours at the gym to reinvent yourself as a healthy, fit person. As this SecondAct post details, The 61-year-old actress has found new project, a grassroots movement in which she's trying to get other people to commit to dancing daily for exercise for 100 consecutive days. "I want everybody in the world to join in on this," she tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's a fun way to stay fit."
Keep reading: The Best Second Acts Awards 2011
Day 1: Best Second Act in Sports 2011: Swimmer Diana Nyad
Day 2: Best Celebrity Second Act 2011: Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen
Day 3: Best Creative Second Act 2011: Poet Kay Ryan
Day 4: Best Second Act Comeback 2011: Entrepreneur Brad Gruno
Day 5: Most Inspirational Second Act 2011: Grad Student Allyson Reneau
Day 6: Best Second Act Making A Difference 2011: Judith Broder
Day 7: Best Second Act Reinvention 2011: E-book Author John Locke
Day 8: Best Second Act Game-Changer 2011: Room to Read's John Wood