The ONE Campaign brought celebrities to Capitol Hill on International Women’s Day, including AMC’s "Walking Dead" actress Danai Gurira, for its "Poverty is Sexist" initiative.
Other stars teaming up with ONE's 200 volunteers on Tuesday were "Dawson’s Creek" sweetheart Katie Holmes, lead singer of 'Jars of Clay' Dan Haseltine and "Law & Order" actress Carey Lowell.
The group was lobbying for measures to reduce extreme poverty, particularly for women and girls. “If you look at the statistics, they are staggering,” Gurira, who plays Michonne on "Walking Dead," told HOH.
“The fact that I am an American, and I can get on a plane and get into the country that has more protections, though still has a gender gap, but definitely has far more protections, I don’t see the difference between myself and those girls [in Africa],” she said.
The actress was born in Iowa and met with her state's junior senator, Republican Joni Ernst. She also sat down with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and staff members from the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.
In these meetings, Gurira shared three goals: Supporting The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; enhancing nutrition, especially among young children; and backing Gavi, a vaccine alliance. “[Immunization] is something that we have to make sure continues to happen or else, otherwise, we’re falling backwards as a global community and that’s irrational,” she said.
Volunteers from Iowa and Nebraska also sat in on the meetings. “The argument that constituents aren’t engaged is completely untrue. The constituents around this country want America to continue to be a leader in ending some of these concerns,” the actress said.
Gurira’s family moved to Harare, Zimbabwe, when she was 5, after the country gained independence. She returned to the U.S. to attend Macalester College and has visited Washington several times, but this is her first lobbying day.
“I think it’s really where a lot of things about me come together -- the fact that I am an African woman and I am an American woman,” she said. “There’s something about being here and connecting with actual lawmakers, people who what they decide to do in the next hour or two, can have an impact on lives that I witness every year when I go home.”
See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.