Actress Natalie Desselle-Reid, known for her roles in “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” “B.A.P.S,” and “How to Be a Player” has died after a quiet battle with cancer. She was 53.
Friends, fans and stars alike flocked to social media to express their condolences and love for her “big beautiful smile and comedic talent.”
Her “B.A.P.S” costar, Halle Berry, penned a heartfelt tribute and posted it on social media confessing that she was “completely heartbroken” over the death of Desselle-Reid:
“I’m still processing this devastating news–and as I continue to read all of your kind words, memories of Natalie continue to flood back to me.”
“Robert Townsend facilitated our divine connection by uniting us in roles that would change our lives and impact our culture for generations to come. I am forever grateful for that moment. Natalie was one of the most precious people I’ve ever known. The second I met her our hearts were intertwined-we had a connection that was simply unexplainable, and she stayed her same sweet self all the years I knew her.”
“Natalie taught us love, joy and humor through her characters – she could never dim her light, and it was infectious. With her, I laughed harder than I’d ever laughed before. She showed us it was ok to be goofy and funny while still being sincere and extraordinarily kind. She and I would hoot and holler over every BAPS tribute we came across, sending them back and forth to one another, overwhelmed that our on-screen friendship meant as much to you as it did to us. She was especially humbled by that, as am I.”
“Natalie represented actual black women, not what black women are perceived to be. For that, she was often underrated, passed over – deprived of the platform she truly deserved. But her light continues to shine through the people who grew up watching her, the people who knew her best and those of us who loved her.”
“Above all, she was a daughter, wife, friend and mother; and my heart is with her entire family, especially with Leonard, Sereno, Summer and Sasha. I’ll love you forever my sweet friend. I miss you Nat Dog!”
Friends and family shared that colon cancer was the disease that ultimately took her life. As of late, this disease has been in the news a lot lately, especially since Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman, died from it suddenly earlier this year.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer morbidity both in men and in women. However, females over 65 years old show higher mortality and lower 5-year survival rate of colorectal cancer compared to their age-matched male counterparts. That age is lower for African American women.
Not only do African Americans have the shortest survival rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States for most cancers, but they also have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer. Nearly 20,000 new cases of colorectal cancer were expected in the United States among African Americans in 2019, with incidence rates 24 percent higher in black men and 19 percent higher in black women compared to other races, according to the American Cancer Society. Black colorectal cancer patients are also 15 to 20 percent more likely to die from the disease than patients of any other race.
Occurring in the colon, rectum or both, colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer in all adults in the United States, with the American Cancer Society predicting about 148,000 new cases in 2020. The black community’s heightened risk appears to be due to several contributing factors, according to Dr. Cannon. “Some biological factors may be at play,” he says, “but there are also socioeconomic factors that can make it more difficult for people to gain access to screening.”
Symptoms may include a change in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation, rectal bleeding with bright red blood, blood in the stool making it look dark, cramps or abdominal pain, and feeling like the bowel isn’t emptying completely with a bowel movement.
Natalie’s acting credits go well beyond the major films she’s known for. She also played a prominent character on the TV shows “For Your Love,” “Built to Last,” and she played Janie Egins for three seasons on the television show “Eve.” Other big-screen credits include “Set It Off” with Queen Latifah, “Divas,” “Gas” and quite notably, the made-for-TV movie “Cinderella,” featuring Brandy.
Friend and fellow actress Holly Robinson Peete also shared her reaction to the news, writing, “Just absolutely decimated by this news… Actress Natalie Desselle, a bright shining star passed away this morning. I got to know her when my mom was managing her. She will be so missed…sending out prayers to her children and husband.” She added, “💔🙏🏽😢 Rest In Peace, Sweet Girl