Robin Williams' Daughter Zelda Talks Becoming An 'Accidental' Mental Health Advocate

By Victoria Kim 05/26/17

The 27-year-old aspiring actor spoke about her advocacy at a luncheon to raise awareness for mental health and wellbeing.

Zelda Williams And Robin Williams

After a period of grieving and trying to make sense of her father’s suicide, Zelda Williams, daughter of the late Robin Williams, says she’s become an “accidental advocate” for mental health.

Last Wednesday in Los Angeles, Zelda hosted a luncheon for the Hope and Grace Initiative, an event sponsored by beauty company Philosophy and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise funding and awareness for mental health.

“Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not ruining someone’s life,” the 27-year-old aspiring actor told Women’s Health magazine. “There’s a realization that everyone is fighting a different battle and you can’t fight it for someone else, but you can try to understand. Part of the first step forward, even before acceptance, but just toward understanding, is actually listening and learning.”

Williams says she’s a “huge supporter of therapy”—especially for “people in my age group of 25 to 30 when a lot of people think they would have had sorted through life and figured it out”—and wishes it was more available, but admits that it’s still a “privilege” and unattainable for most.

She’s gained a lot of insight about depression and mental health issues, and how those issues are talked about. Her father, Robin Williams, the comedic legend known for his roles in Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, and Death to Smoochy, died by suicide in August of 2014. 

“As someone who always prided herself on being the strong one who took care of others, there were a lot of people in my life who didn’t know how to check if I was okay when my world turned upside down,” she told Women’s Health. “We all have to take it day-by-day but asking at all, instead of assuming, is a great first step.”

Zelda appeared on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix show, Chelsea, to talk about her grieving process and moving forward. “I just kept going, ‘Okay, well today I’m going to wake up and love what I do. And then tomorrow I’m going to wake up and be happy and love what I do.’ And then the next day. Because that’s all you can do,” she said, adding that she kept busy with her passion for writing.

In 2015 she wrote a heartfelt Instagram post that shed light on the reality of depression: “Avoiding fear, sadness or anger is not the same thing as being happy. I live my sadness every day, but I don’t resent it anymore … For those suffering from depression, I know how dark and endless that tunnel can feel, but if happiness seems impossible to find, please hold on to the possibility of hope, faint though it may be.”

Through the Hope and Grace Initiative, Philosophy donates money to organizations that promote women’s mental health and well-being. 

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr