Actress wants to see end to human trafficking

Actress wants to see end to human trafficking

The daughter of veteran character actor Paul Sorvino was discouraged from becoming an actress. Yet Mira Sorvino is an Academy Award-winning and Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress. She is best known for her role as Linda Ash in “Mighty Aphrodite,” which won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She also played the lead of Romy in “Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.”

Sorvino can currently be seen starring in “Trade of Innocents,” a film that focuses on the shocking reality of human trafficking. She has since become a spokeswoman for this issue.

Sorvino attended Harvard, majoring in Chinese, graduating magna cum laude in 1989. Upon graduation, Mira moved to New York to try her hand in the city’s film industry, waitressing, auditioning and working at the Tribeca production company of Robert De Niro.

ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about? 

MIRA SORVINO: I think I would have to try and bend his ear on human trafficking as it pertains to the United States, and the insanely low priority it seems to be given, if gauged by monies spent fighting it. The U.S. spends more in one month on the war on drugs than the total amount ever expended on human trafficking … I think the value on saving human lives which are being lived out in abject misery and total denial of their human rights should be at least as high as preventing chemicals and plant substances being made and sold.

I would make him aware that about half the slaves in the U.S. are trafficked for labor and half for sexual exploitation, and that both deserve equal attention. If he’s not aware, up to 300,000 domestic American kids are bought and sold on the streets at any given time, and only 1 in 5 states currently has “safe harbor” laws that rightfully decriminalize these minors and define them as victims of human trafficking, rather than perpetrators of the crime of prostitution. These essential laws punish the real perpetrators, the pimp-traffickers, with extremely high penalties and make the victims eligible for a gamut of state services such as housing, education, medical care, counseling, etc., without which they have very little chance of escaping being trafficked again, and moving forward with rehabilitation into productive, happy lives.

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

MS: I would ask him what he intends to do to make the U.S. a slave-free country once more.

RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama as he’s campaigning for the upcoming election?

MS: I would encourage him to do what he has always known is right. He has immense support out there and must stick to his guns more firmly than ever.

RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

MS: Maybe to Big Sur. Just the majesty and the windswept coastline put things in perspective.

RB: What piece of music would you recommend that President Obama add to his collection? Why? 

MS: Mahalia Jackson, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” I put it on my playlist for natural childbirth, and it gave me courage, so it might be a good thing right now.

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

MS: I really don’t know. Right now I feel honored and super-challenged doing the work I do as an activist advocating for change for trafficking victims all over the world as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking. That and being a mom of four and an actress keep my plate very full!

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.