NEW YORK CITY -- Leigh Anne Tuohy is a classy, no nonsense ball of energy, who first stepped into the spotlight as the hard driving mom in the blockbuster film "The Blind Side." Actress Sandra Bullock brought her big personality to the big screen and won an academy award.
The story was about the Tuohy family adopting a homeless teen who grew up to earn a football scholarship to the University of Mississippi and be drafted into the NFL. This year that same young man, Michael Oher, helped the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl.
Tuohy recently sat down with CBN News in New York City and described her family's story.
"It's really a love story and I hope the love story continues with family, after family, after family because there are Michael Ohers in every city in this country, and all they need is for someone to love them. There are a lot of people with a lot of worth and a lot of value and they just need an opportunity," she said.
New TV Series
The compassionate mom now leads a mission to deliver that opportunity to other foster homes with her new reality television series called "Family Addition." The inspirational show airs Fridays at 9 p.m. (EST) on UP, formerly known as GMC television.
In her conversation about the show Tuohy said, "We are one of these that unless what we do makes a difference, we really don't want to play in that sandbox. And we have been offered every TV show you can imagine. You name it, we have been offered it -- as a family and individually. They've wanted us to race, skip, jump, hop, everything you can think of, and that is just not who we are."
Tuohy calls the show a perfect fit for her family and the work it does with the Making it Happen Foundation. In each episode, "Team Tuohy" works to help families on the verge of adopting one or more of their foster children.
The show also allows Tuohy to use her talents as an interior designer. It's a skill she showcased as a member of the design team for ABC's "Extreme Makeover Home Edition."
"When you go into a family and they are just stretched just as tight as possible, financially, every way you can imagine, you would like to do something for them, that you leave a footprint that you were here and we believe in you and think what you are doing is right," Tuohy said.
"So every episode, thus far, we have tried to do something for the family to encourage them, to uplift them and let them know that 'Man you are doing the right thing. You are the hero. You are the one making a difference in this child's life," she said.
One Couple with a Big Heart
That is Tuohy's message to the Jackson family in one episode of the show. Shirdawn and Jeffrey Jackson have two children, but still opened their home to seven young siblings in California's foster care system.
"Shirdawn and Jeffrey are two of the most amazing people I have ever met," Tuohy told CBN News. "Every night when I lay my head on the pillow, still, I say thank you God for Shirdawn and Jeffrey Jackson because they have stepped up and made a difference."
But she explained that even the best guardian angels of orphans cannot change a mother with a hardened heart.
"There is this mother in LA who I am not going to lie -- if I meet her, potentially, I could do bodily harm to her," Tuohy said. "She just continues to birth these children. She is just 26 years old and she will do it again and they cannot take another child in."
"The last two kids she had, she walked out of the hospital and looked at the lady at the front desk and said 'You know who to call,' like it was the laundry or her dry cleaning. It's a human being," she said.
Tuohy is quick to point out the foster care picture can be painful and frustrating. At any given time there are more than 400,000 children in the system waiting for homes.
She said, "There is no one walking the streets who had it any tougher than my son, nobody. He was in 20 plus foster homes. He was one of 13 kids. I mean it was as bad as bad could get. And if someone like him, when you invest time and you love them, becomes so wildly successful, can you imagine who falls through the cracks that doesn't get help? And that keeps you up at night."
'We Can All do Something'
Foster care and adoption are significant issues in America, but they are manageable, according to Tuohy. She hopes "Family Addition" will inspire people to get involved.
"Somebody has to be the voice of the kids. Do we think that God bestowed that message on us? He uses simple people to tell stories and he used our family who were just simple, every day, ordinary people to tell a story," she explained.
"Not everyone can go out and adopt a 6"6', 350-pound, African American man. He is hard to find clothes for and there are issues," she said.
But Tuohy strongly believes "we can all do something."