UPDATED with additional information: Susan Watanabe, social activist, writer and wife of SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, died August 26 from brain cancer. She was 49.

Susan Watanabe White
Courtesy SAG-AFTRA

Watanabe was a writer on TV series in the early 2000s including Girlfriends and One On One. She was also well known for her support and fundraising for progressive candidates and causes, new authors, young professionals and community groups, according to the actors union, which announced her death.

In April 2017, Watanabe’s friends founded Susan’s Circle in her honor. The organization works with the Liberty Hill Foundation to identify and invest in leaders who have taken on the responsibility of public service and have inspired the participation of others. She also has served as president of two Los Angeles neighborhood associations in the communities in which she and her husband lived.

Born on October 20, 1968 in Chicago, Watanabe attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School and the University of Illinois. She later earned a graduate degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

She married White in 2000. She is survived by him; their 9-year-old daughter Sophia; her parents Don and Ida Watanabe; and brother Scott.

“Susan was a warrior with a gentle soul,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said. “Among her many noteworthy contributions to humanity, Susan changed lives as a social worker, community activist and curious spirit whose keen insight ultimately led to a career as a television writer. David once said that Susan was the center of good in their universe. Whether reading with their daughter Sophia, or discovering new wonders of joy with David, she was a towering presence of love and comfort. She was also a woman of uncommon grace whose serene countenance hid a tremendous sense of humor. Her presence will be missed, but her brilliant light will never dim.

“On behalf of our membership and staff, I send our love and condolences to David and Sophia, their family and friends. Rest in peace and power Susan.”​

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 15 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Susan’s Circle.