René Uzee is a walking, talking, breathing miracle. To look at him you wouldn't know it. Neither would you come to that conclusion by having a casual conversation with him. By all appearances he's just a regular, though very neat, guy. A renaissance man, if you will. René lives by his motto, "There Is Great Power Deeply Embedded in All That Appears Adverse," one of several significant phrases his family and friends know him to share.
He began cutting hair at age 17, in 1977 while still in high school; next, he attended cosmetology school, then in 1980 he established Forum Salon. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina flooded both the dream home he had designed and his salon with a combined total of 23 feet of water. Having evacuated to Baton Rouge one day before the hurricane made landfall, he decided to remain there, and to re-establish both his life and Forum Salon.
On the heels of this bold move, René discovered a lump in his armpit. The diagnosis was Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, CLL, a death sentence for many. He began writing a plan to re-open his salon during his chemotherapy treatments. Today Forum Salon is one of the top salons in Baton Rouge. In 2008 he produced a cable television show, "Makeover 225 - Lifting Spirits One Person At A Time." René showcased individuals who had experienced life threatening health issues as well as devastation from Hurricane Katrina, and who, like René, had turned those setbacks into golden opportunities. Due to ongoing CLL treatments, René set the well-received show aside after only two episodes.
Backing up a bit, René had been living with a diagnosis of Lupus since the year 2000. Despite this, in 2003 he started to write a short story; when he reached a total of eight handwritten pages, he thought it was complete.
So, let's recap. In six years, René Uzee, living with a diagnosis of Lupus since the year 2000, evacuating the city he loved and relocating his life and business in 2005, confronting the tragic conditions of homelessness and unemployment, and receiving the CLL diagnosis in 2006, faced life head on with unwavering persistence to defeat all challenges - what he calls "a bump in the road" - and with that tenacity also expanded his eight page-story into a novel, Yellow Jack. It is truly a treasure of a book that was meticulously researched for tens of thousands of hours, masterfully created from the front cover to the back flap by this powerful, omniscient writer. René Uzee is quite possibly the next great literary star. As a dear friend of his had said many times, "René, you've rewritten New Orleans history."
René Uzee is a native of New Orleans, and now resides in a small town with his wife Brenda, their home tucked in the woods north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
When I asked Rene', how would you rate your life at this time? "Can it get any better?" he answered. "My mother-in-law, who I love dearly, children and grandchildren, all live on the same property. We have two dogs, ten outside cats, bird feeders visible from most windows, a stocked pond, seven hens and a rooster named, I've Got This."