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Mira Sorvino

Academy Award-winning Actress & Human Rights Advocate
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Biography

Mira Sorvino is an Academy Award-winning actress, documentary filmmaker, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and a passionate voice for victims of social injustice. Raised in a family of activists, her social conscience was ignited by her mother’s participation in the march on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It served as a catalyst for her own social activism and a lifetime of serving others. While attending Harvard University, she volunteered in an elderly outreach program where her life was forever influenced by a centenarian African-American woman. She participated in an exchange program, studying in Beijing for a year and becoming fluent in Mandarin. While in China, she witnessed a curious admixture of pre-Tiananmen Square democracy protests coupled with racially-fueled demonstrations, which further inspired her interest in social justice. Sorvino received two Ford Foundation grants to research conflict between Chinese and African students to write her thesis, “Anti-Africanism in the People’s Republic of China,” for which she was awarded a summa and Harvard’s coveted Hoopes Prize for writing. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in East Asian Studies.

Passionately against any type of prejudice, Sorvino helped produce a documentary on the rise of anti-Semitism linked to free speech in the former Soviet Union called Freedom to Hate after graduating from Harvard. She also participated in a social service program called “Streetside Stories” designed to help middle school children develop a love of reading and writing. Her first acting role was in a small independent film called Amongst Friends, which she associate produced. Some of her early features include Robert Redford’s Quiz Show, Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam, At First Sight with Val Kilmer and David Mirkin’s Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion co-starring Lisa Kudrow. For the latter, as well as for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Tim Fywell’s Norma Jean and Marilyn, Sorvino earned Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. Her breakout role was in Woody Allen’s 1995 film, Mighty Aphrodite, which won her an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Critics Choice for Best Supporting Actress. In her Oscar speech, she credited her father, veteran actor Paul Sorvino for her love of acting. She went on to say, “I wanted to be an actor who could move other people and make people see something about the human spirit, and you’ve made me feel that I’ve made a small step toward that.” Sorvino’s words might have been about her work as an actress, but they speak to the very heart of who she is: a compassionate global citizen on a mission to make a difference in the world.

Sorvino received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer in a Lifetime miniseries called Human Trafficking, which depicted the heartbreaking lives of young women and children forced into commercial sexual exploitation, a modern day form of slavery, along with labor trafficking. It’s a unique role that allowed her to merge her love of acting with her humanitarian efforts. That same year, Amnesty International honored her with the Artist of Conscience Award, presented to individuals who have displayed strong philanthropic and humanist efforts. She served as the Official Ambassador for Amnesty International’s “Stop Violence Against Women” campaign from 2004 to 2008. Sorvino was then appointed as UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the Global Fight Against Human Trafficking in 2007, a position she continues to hold.

Sorvino is a strong voice for victims and survivors of human trafficking. She has used her celebrity to focus the world’s attention on the global trafficking of women and girls and has demanded action. Sorvino is undeniably at her best in a room with people who can affect change. As a UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, Sorvino has addressed the United Nation’s General Assembly on the global fight against human trafficking and participated in the drafting of the UN’s Global Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking. She also represented UNODC speaking at the Vatican’s Second Annual Conference on Modern Day Slavery, bringing together law enforcement and the church. In an effort to raise awareness of human trafficking, she worked on and hosted the award-winning CNN Freedom Project documentary, Every Day in Cambodia, which pulls back the curtain on the trafficking of young girls in Cambodia. It’s a shocking reality that “every day in Cambodia, children are bought and sold for sex.” Sorvino has traveled the world on behalf of the United Nations, lobbied Congress on human trafficking and testified before the U.S. Senate on the atrocities occurring around the world, from Mexico to Darfur. Raising awareness against human trafficking and for the empowerment of women are causes Sorvino believes are worth fighting for.

A high level communicator, Mira Sorvino takes the time to prepare and research each of her speeches to make them relevant to her audience. Bright, articulate and knowledgeable about the complex topics she speaks on, she continues to be a powerful voice for important global causes.

Topics

From Harvard to Hollywood: Life Lessons Learned from a Woman on a Mission

As a successful Hollywood actress, Mira Sorvino has navigated Hollywood and found her passion in human rights advocacy—all while raising four children. Her life story and the lessons learned are both touching and inspiring. In this talk, Sorvino shares personal experiences and the challenges she faced from being bullied as a young child to losing her grandmother and close friends to cancer. She is a firm believer that early influence can have a huge impact on your life. For her, helping other people was instilled at a young age by her parents. Through an engaging narrative with the right mixture of heart and reality, Mira will inspire you to get involved, give back to the community and find personal empowerment.

The Global Fight against Human Trafficking: A Voice for Victims of Modern Day Slavery

According to the latest information, the trafficking of human beings currently claims 30 million victims and annual profits are upwards of $32 billion, tying for second place as the most lucrative criminal enterprise alongside arms trafficking (first place being illicit drugs). This form of transnational organized crime is a sophisticated, lucrative business where women and children are being bought and sold like commodities to the highest bidder. The equivalent of modern day slavery, each of these faces of human trafficking violate the most basic human rights, freedom and dignity. Sorvino’s appointment as U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to combat human trafficking has given her rare insight. In this thought-provoking talk, Sorvino pulls back the curtain on the abduction and coercion of women, men and children for the purpose of sex exploitation, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, debt bondage, forced child labor and child soldiering. She will captivate you with her passion and leave you inspired with her personal belief that it is our sacred human responsibility to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. She is an inspired speaker who is able to move an audience to stand up for others, get involved and create change.

From the College Campus to the Streets of Cambodia: Anyone Can Be a Target of Human Trafficking

Since childhood, Sorvino has consistently made activism and advocacy a part of her life. She is passionate about human rights and sees the issues that might be hiding in plain sight. In this speech, Sorvino shares the unbelievable truth: human trafficking is not confined to the developing world as most might believe. Human trafficking is taking place in American cities, towns and even on our college campuses. That’s right. Human trafficking has found its way onto America’s college campuses, big cities and small towns, and ANYONE can be a target. The belief that human trafficking is confined to low socio-economic status is a dangerous misconception. Sorvino shares the hard facts and offers important insights, serving as a wake-up call for parents and their young teens going off to college and living alone for the first time. She also shares inspiring stories of ordinary people who, with the proper awareness, have been able to bring down trafficking rings with a tip to the proper authorities, and heroic trafficking survivors who have not only turned their lives around but now live lives of heroic service leading the fight against modern day slavery.

Living with and Overcoming Illness: Why Family Support Matters to Recovery and Quality of Life

When Mira Sorvino lost her grandmother to cancer, she saw first-hand the difficulties a loved one faces when battling the disease. Out of that loss, Sorvino had become an impassioned speaker on the need to find a cure. She has recently traveled to Washington DC to advocate alongside one of her dearest childhood friends and famed #Cancerland activist, Champagne Joy, who has Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Together, they made an impassioned plea to lawmakers to devote more focus and resources to this deadly killer of women. In this talk, Mira shares her personal loss and how family support can make a difference to a loved one with cancer. All cancers are devastating stealers of life, but the emotional support given to a family member dealing with complex feelings after a diagnosis can provide an important level of support that can help to improve all around quality of life.

Diabetes: A Family Matter

When Mira Sorvino’s father, beloved actor Paul Sorvino, was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, rather than being afraid of what may come, the entire family looked for solutions to tackle this disease together. In this talk, Mira shares her tips for family involvement and engagement, including creative strategies to support lifestyle changes. A spokesperson for “Diabetes Co-Stars,” a campaign to educate patients about the importance of family support, Mira goes in-depth about why success is about more than just exercise and healthier eating habits.

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