Avis Richards’ dedication to philanthropy is paramount. The Founder of Birds Nest Foundation, a non-profit organization that produces documentaries, short videos and PSA’s for a multitude of well deserving and under-represented charities, Avis Richards brings passion, zeal and energy to every project she takes on–raising much needed attention to lesser known charities and promoting awareness for their meaningful causes. This New York based mother of two has teamed up with New Yorkers and A-list celebrities to produce films for the charities of Goldie Hawn, Michael Bolton, Andre Agassi, John Legend and many others. I met Avis last summer and was so impressed by all of her talents and love of giving. The award-winning producer shares some of her interesting history, opinions and lifestyle secrets.
MM: What inspired you to start the Birds Nest Foundation?
AR: Seven years ago, I noticed a lack of quality media content for non-profits. Many of these non-profits spent large sums of money on production companies to get their word out. That’s money that could be going to a good cause, so I stepped in. It’s really all about giving back through media and giving non-profits a voice. MM: I love the foundation’s appellation. Is there a special meaning behind it?
AR: Well, “Avis” means “bird” in Latin, so that was part of the name. But also, Birds Nest is always “hatching” new creative ideas, both beautiful and impactful once they leave the nest.
MM: As a crusader for Healthy Movement, a primary focus is improving and educating Americans about proper nutritional habits, especially for our youth; why is childhood nutrition so important to you?
AR: 12.5 million children are obese. Diabetes has increased nine-fold in the past 25 years. As a parent with two wonderful children, nutrition is especially important. I’ve gone to schools; I’ve seen what children eat. We need nutrition education for kids and adults, as this problem is a national concern. MM: Your short film Lunch, about public school meals was very enlightening. Are there other educational videos we can expect to see from Birds Nest Foundation?
AR: Yes! We’re currently in production of LUNCH 2: The Solutions. With the help of many professionals, including Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network; Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm; and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, we’ll discuss America’s malnutrition crisis. We’re also working on Magdalena, a feature film about the ongoing practice of female genital cutting in Africa. And of course, we’re constantly producing media for many non-profits and charities. MM: Tell us about Dylan’s Lunchbox and how that came about.
AR: The idea of Dylan’s Lunchbox came to me after we saw how successful LUNCH: The Filmbecame. There is a need for programming and media centered around healthy eating and lifestyle. Dylan is a precocious foodie, and places a high priority on healthy, wholesome food.
MM: You are an award winning executive producer and director working with a bevy of celebs. Why not go into feature filmmaking or television?
AR: I’m a working philanthropist–my calling is to give back through multimedia. And honestly, I’m really proud of the work we’re doing right now. The medium that we’re working with allows us the flexibility to tackle these very important social issues of our time. That’s flexibility that really isn’t available in features and on the mainstream cable television channels.
MM: As a New Yorker you know how mobile life can be, what are some of your favorite healthy snacks for on the go? AR: Fresh fruits and veggies are my all time favorite snack–I usually just throw them in a baggy and head out the door. Chia seed bars from Health Warrior give me energy that powers me through the day. And you can’t go wrong with a fresh juice from Organic Avenue.
MM: We know how challenging it can be these days juggling motherhood and a career, what advice do you have for fellow Wonder Women?
AR: Fellow Wonder Women: find the balance. Make time for yourself. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, and find beauty in every day.
MM: I imagine working with so many charities can be pretty challenging at times. How do you de-stress after your day?
AR: I love my work and don’t find it stressful. Birds Nest provides a medium for social communication so that the many charities we work with have a voice. Working out, time with my husband and children and various hobbies certainly add the balance that I love.
MM: Between your impressive resume of work and juggling a busy schedule, you still manage to look flawless. What are your beauty secrets?
AR: I have been blessed with some pretty good genes “thanks to my mom and dad”, but eating healthy, sticking to an organic diet, drinking tons of water, and getting a great night sleep are the key to how I look and feel. MM: How would you describe your signature style?
AR: My signature style is to dress classic, modern, and chic.
MM: What fashion or beauty item won’t you leave home without?
AR: I start and end my day with Juno Transformative Lipid Serum by Sunday Riley. Even if I don’t have time for makeup, I always put on mascara by Givenchy Phenomen’ Eyes; I will never leave home without Lanolips. You can only buy it in Australia or online; and if I’m on my way to a workout, ‘Save Your Do’ Gymwrap by Nicole Ari Parker keeps my hair looking great.
MM: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
AR: Sneaking off for an afternoon of shoe shopping at Bergdorf’s. Who doesn’t love the latest Christian Louboutins? Then, just smiling when my husband asks “Are those new shoes?”
Avis Richards is the Founder and CEO of Birds Nest Foundation™, a 501(c)3 non-profit creative group that produces high-quality documentaries, short videos and public service announcements (PSAs) for charitable organizations. To date, Richards has granted PSA’s, short films and documentaries for dozens of Non-Profits including ones helmed by Goldie Hawn, Michael Bolton, Andre Agassi, and John Legend, to name a few. Her productions have touched upon important topics such as Education, Health, Women’s Issues, the Environment, Anti-Violence, and more. Avis was recently nominated for several New York Emmy® Awards for her weekly TV series produced through Birds Nest, Lunch NYC.