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It's hard to hold on to the dreams and ideals we hold close to as kids. And fair enough; life is hard, and following your dreams is even harder. But Mira Sorvino has managed to carve out a life of purpose and passion for herself... and nab an Oscar along the way.
Growing up in New Jersey, Mira didn't think Hollywood was in her future. Her Dad, the great character actor Paul Sorvino, didn't want his daughter to face the harsh rejection and turbulent lifestyle he'd come to know. He pushed his children to work hard in school and find passion elsewhere. Although she loved theatre, Mira saw herself as bookish and geeky, so she welcomed her father's push toward academia.
When she was 10, 'The Diary of Anne Frank' inflamed a sense of justice in Mira, and inspired her to set out to make a difference. She went to Harvard for Asian Studies and spent her junior year in Beijing, where she learned Mandarin and wrote an award-wining thesis on racial prejudice.
She had her sights set on a diplomatic career in China, but after Tiananmen Square, she convinced herself (and her father) that she should give her second love, acting, a shot.
She landed small, but powerful roles in films like 'Barcelona' and 'Quiz Show'. She caught the attention of Woody Allen, who cast her as the kindhearted but flighty hooker in 'Mighty Aphrodite'. To prepare for her role Mira spent a week walking around New York in character. Her dedication paid off; she won an Oscar for her role. And now Mira's got a new film called 'Union Square', which played at last year's Toronto International Film Festival - made on a tiny budget, it's an honest and personal piece of work.
Despite her professional success, it wasn't until she was approached by Amnesty International that Mira truly found her voice. She started speaking out for women's rights, and protesting violence in Darfur. In 2009 she was appointed the UN's Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking, a position she's taken incredibly seriously.
She's become a passionate advocate for victims of sexual exploitation, and now balances her activism with motherhood and movies.