Susan Sarandon’s career has surged this year. She’ll appear in Oliver Stone’s coming movie “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” just wrapped the Duplass Brothers comedy “Jeff Who Lives at Home,” and will begin work this coming Monday on the HBO pilot “The Miraculous Year” with director Kathryn Bigelow. She also received an Emmy nomination for her performance opposite Al Pacino in HBO’s April telefilm “You Don’t Know Jack.” In addition to her acting work, she’s lending her voice to causes she finds important, such as the eradication of child sex trafficking.
At a press conference this afternoon at the Morgans Hotel Penthouse, Sarandon talked about the importance of educating the public about the issue, saying that “unless you demand a change, governments won’t suddenly have a consciousness raising and decide to change a system that is so deeply rooted into these countries and our country, too.”
An estimated 1.2 million children annually are exploited in the U.S. and international sex trade, according to ECPAT, a network of groups and individuals working to end the sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes. Starting August 2, ECPAT is helping to support a petition on the subject at The Body Shop stores and online calling for new legal protection for children under age 18.
“I chose very carefully the groups that I talk about and will put my reputation on the line for,” Sarandon said. “You get a big bang for your buck with this group because you know where the money is going.”
Also at the press conference was Somaly Mam, a Cambodian human rights activist who was abandoned as a child in the mid-70’s during the Pol Pot regime and sold into prostitution. As an adult, she has rescued, rehabilitated and provided shelter, education and medical care for thousands of girls in Southeast Asia through her self-named foundation.
Mam was profiled as Glamour magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year by Mariane Pearl, the widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl. She was also lauded as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 by Angelina Jolie (who portrayed Mariane Pearl in the 2007 film “A Mighty Heart”). “My support, my energy, everything comes from the girls [that she rescues] and also my great staff at the Foundation,” Mam said.
Of her friendship with Sarandon, Mam said, “Susan always make me laugh when we have lunch. She takes care of me and protects me.”
About Mam, Sarandon said, “I’m grateful for her example. When I’m freaking out about some stupid little thing and I get a call from her about something that really is a big thing, it puts my life in perspective.”
In addition to Sarandon, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Dern, Rob Lowe and Uma Thurman also support efforts to stop child sex trafficking.