EDITORíS NOTE: The following interview originally
appeared in the May 13th and 20th editions of the Santa Monica Mirror
and the edited version is being reprinted as a courtesy of that publication.
A Moment With Mira
By Beverly Cohn
ira Sorvino is Paulies daughter, one of Hollywoods
most famous Mafioso actors, Paul Sorvino. The acting apple
doesnt fall from the tree as Mira has carved out a successful,
non-Italiano career, beginning with her award-winning role
in Woody Allens Mighty Aphrodite for which she won an Oscar. Harvard
educated, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Asian
studies, she is Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations to combat
human trafficking. Her latest film, Multiple Sarcasms, which co-stars
Timothy Hutton, Dana Delany, Mario Van Peebles, and Stockard Channing,
is the story of Huttons character Gabriel, who is in the throes
of a severe mid-life crisis, and its effect on family and friends.
The following interview has been edited for print purposes.
Q: Whats the first thing you look for in a script
and what attracted you to Multiple Sarcasms?
Sorvino: I have to like the character. Ive never
played a character I didnt like and if I dont like her,
I alter things about her until I do. I really liked Cari (character
in the film) and saw a chance to be spontaneous and fun and outspoken
Q: What was the hardest scene between you and Timothy?
Sorvino: The scene where he shows up drunk at my home
to declare his love was very emotional. She considers herself to be
best friend to he, his wife, and daughter. She doesnt consider
him romantically so when he drops this bombshell on her in the middle
of the night, its very painful and makes her angry because hes
betrayed the unwritten rule of their friendship.
A dramatic confrotnation between Timothy Hutton
and Mira Sorvino.
Q: Do you think platonic relationships ultimately work?
Sorvino: I think they work for a while as long as youre
single but I think its very difficult. Eventually one of you is
going to have feelings and once theyre expressed, it messes up
the friendship. Ive had male friends in the past, but now my husband
is my best friend. I think I would go crazy with jealousy if my husband
had a best female friend because I want to be that girl.
Mira Sorvino and husband
Q: Whats the biggest challenge in juggling your
career with three children and a husband?
Sorvino: Trying not to do damage to my family while
still having some kind of career. I dont aspire to a giant career
right now because I dont want to take the time away from the kids.
When I was busiest, I worked all year long with only three weeks off.
Id been going from one country to another living in hotel rooms
and Im not willing to do that now. Kudos to those women who can
pull it off, but I dont want an army of nannies raising my kids.
I dont even have a full-time nanny right now. I should because
I need one for moments like this. I had to call my trusted babysitter
to watch the baby for three days and hoped that shes available.
My baby is playing in a park right now and well rendezvous later
for breast-feeding. Its any working mothers dilemma because
its not possible to have it all because something will suffer
either your work or your children.
Q: What was it like in your childhood?
Sorvino: My mom was a stay-at-home mom who made these
fantastic birthday parties, did creative things, taught us acting, and
did volunteer work, all of which adds to my guilt. I sometimes think
I should give it all up and be with them all the time. On the other
side of the coin is my mother-in-law who was a Marine Corps Full Bird
Colonel. She says that I shouldnt have guilt and that I should
work and the kids just have to get used to it.
Q: Do you think your famous dad had the same conflicts
as you do?
Sorvino: Dad had more of the traditional male perspective
in that its the mans job to earn money for the family. After
uprooting us for one semester to go to school in California, which I
hated, my parents made a decision when I was in second grade that my
mom would stay home in New Jersey while he went away to work on films
and television shows because it was too disruptive to our schooling
to take us with him. But when he was home, he was a great father and
super involved in our lives. In retrospect, I actually question that
decision because eventually my parents broke up and I feel that the
time apart drove a wedge between them. Its a hard call. Do you
uproot everyone to keep the family together or do you go away for long
stretches of time?
Mira and her family
Q: What are your fears around your children?
Sorvino: I love my kids so much and I see them suffer
when I go walk away and put them in someone elses care. Also,
I grapple with this feeling of loss because time is passing and theyre
getting older and one day theyre going to be gone and theyre
never going to call me or write. (laughs) But this is life. It moves
at a breakneck pace and you just have to go along with it and treasure
what you have in the moment.
Q: What makes being a mother so special for you?
Sorvino: Gosh, having my own kids who call me mommy.
My son comes up to me several times a day and says Mommy, I love
you. My daughter attacks me with kisses. It melts my heart. I
think it really worked out well for me that I had the big career first
and could move into this second phase of my life, which I really enjoy.
Q: Could you talk about your work as a human rights
Sorvino: I was Amnesty International's campaign spokesperson
to Stop Violence Against Women for over two years and on
the subject of trafficking, I am Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Office
on Drugs and Crime ((UNODC).
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime head Antonio
Maria Costa listens as Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino talks about
human trafficking at the United Nations following her appointment as
Goodwill Ambassador to UNODC.
Photo: Monica Graff.
Q: Whats been your experience?
Sorvino: I just came back from Mexico for the kick-off
the U.N.s worldwide campaign to combat trafficking. The goal is
to raise awareness and to get countries to commit to fighting this trafficking
within their borders.**
Q: Can you talk about that trip?
Sorvino: It was a fascinating trip and I did a lot of
public speaking. Its a country where not much is known about trafficking,
so I felt like I was able to be informative. The most important thing
for me, by far, was going to go to a shelter for recently liberated
girls, and I mean girls. Ive met trafficking victims before, but
they were all past 30. These were teenagers and children. I met a little
girl who was eight years old who had been sold into a brothel when she
was four. She was walking around with a big smile on her face showing
everyone her arithmetic homework. When I saw her I thought Oh
God, please tell me shes the daughter of someone here. She
was a victim, just like all the other girls, but we should call them
survivors. I felt like I wanted to adopt her, but I cant adopt
people everyone who is needy. I just wanted to save her and protect
her for the rest of her life so she would never undergo anything like
what had happened to her. There is only one shelter in Mexico for girls
like this and I got to meet thirty lucky survivors, but there are hundreds
of thousands of girls exactly like them all over Mexico.
Q: What were you feeling during that visit?
Sorvino: Seeing a child like that and hearing some of
the other stories, was a life-changing experience. They were horrendous
and so graphic that I would not want to repeat them here. If any one
of you heard these stories, you would be sick to your stomach. It affected
me for two weeks and I had difficulty sleeping. We dont have that
sort of cotton-picking slavery anymore because enough of
the population didnt want to tolerate it, and hence the Civil
War. Its unbelievable that were living in a world today
that puts up with this form of slavery.
Q: Do you have stats?
Sorvino: At least two million people a year are trafficked
internationally, with hundreds of thousands of under-aged kids trafficked
internally in the U.S. They are usually American citizens who are being
used as child sex slaves and for worldwide pornography, 50% of which
is produced here in the U.S. There needs to be much more of a firm commitment
from every country, including our own, to explore every avenue to crack
open the trafficking cases and to make it unprofitable for traffickers
to operate in the trade of humans because for them its a business,
and is the third largest profitable criminal activity, after drugs and
arms. If it becomes too difficult for them to operate, if theyre
indicted and imprisoned often enough, theyll stop. But right now,
its extremely easy and profitable for them to continue.
Q: How many cases are prosecuted in the U.S.?
Sorvino: We have only a 1% solve rate and have about
same number of trafficking cases as murder cases. Can you imagine if
we only solved 1% of the murder cases? So it means that we have intensify
our efforts and raise public awareness, train the police, get the judiciary
to be very well informed, and encourage everyone to become a watcher.
Its very subterranean and hard to find, but its always concerned
citizens who call in with tips that break cases.
Q: How much of your time to you commit to this?
Sorvino: It takes a lot of my time, but Im very
serious about this and feel a personal responsibility, which is why
I do lot of research and write my own speeches. I dont want to
be just another talking head. Back in college I wrote my
thesis on the racial conflict in China so I really learned about prejudice
and about ethnic conflict and the abuse of human rights, so I was prepared
for that life. However, then I became an actress but now Im getting
to put that training into good use. Its like I have a parallel
life I have my actress life and my advocacy work.
Q: Why are men attracted to these little girls?
Sorvino: The sexual drive in men is so strong that unless
they are educated correctly throughout their formative years, once they
are focused on a certain kind of sex object that they find stimulating,
thats going to continue to be stimulating for them. Every culture
has always put a prize on virginity and youthful beauty so a child who
hasnt been spoiled by other people will always be
more ideal to the John who wants to have something special.
But, men need to be educated to the terrible sorrow that behavior is
creating because many times the buyer of commercial sex is not really
thinking about the individual, but just view it as a service. I think
if you did sensitivity training for males worldwide, you might be able
to discourage them from buying sex.
Q: We applaud you for doing this important work.
Sorvino: Thank you so much.
Q: What are you working on now?
Sorvino: My father and I are planning to do a 19th Century
adaption of King Lear together and thats gearing up now.
**Mexicos President Calderón announced
its version of the United Nations "Blue Heart" campaign against
human trafficking. "It is an honor for Mexicans to be the first
country on the American continent, and in the world, to join and launch
this important prevention campaign
. We have to act now
to put an end to inhuman practices which turn people into merchandise,
because human beings are not and cannot be for sale."