At One Golden Globes Party, Human Rights Took Center Stage
Women’s rights, mass incarceration, and mental health aren’t typically topics discussed on a Hollywood red carpet, but the party Amnesty International threw on Friday ahead of Sunday night’s Golden Globes was an exception.
Homeland actor Nazanin Boniadi, The Big Short director Adam McKay, and Jeff Skoll, founder of TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media, were honored by the human rights organization for their work bringing social justice issues to light.
Boniadi served as a spokeswoman for Amnesty from 2009 through last year, campaigning primarily on the rights of women and children in Iran, where she was born. She said she first became aware of Amnesty International while listening to artists such as Bono and Sting as a child growing up in London.
“These women [in Iran] are really struggling. But what I love is that the women are at the forefront...leading the way toward democracy and freedom and equality. They are fearless,” she said on Friday during the afternoon event at the Chateau Marmont. “We have a term for it in Iran. We call them shirzan, which means lioness.”
Boniadi said one of the biggest issues facing women in the theocracy is that they are considered “second-class citizens before the law.” Based on “completely irrational laws,” a woman’s court testimony is worth just half that of a man’s, and adultery by women is punishable by stoning, Boniadi said.
Nick Cannon, the star of the Spike Lee film Chiraq, about the plague of gun violence on Chicago’s South Side, hosted the ceremony, introducing the likes of Amnesty International USA Board Chair Ann Burroughs and Interim Executive Director Margaret Huang. Cannon’s longtime friend and mentor, Russell Simmons, took the stage to share a story about a young rapper signed to his label who, he recently found out, had been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for drug charges.
“The prison-industrial complex has destroyed the fabric of the black community and changed what was church culture and turned it into prison culture,” said Simmons. A decade ago, he successfully campaigned with other artists to reduce the penalties imposed by New York’s strict drug sentencing laws. “It’s been a 40-year war on drugs, [and it] has been so destructive to people of color,” he said, pointing to social media as a powerful tool for raising awareness and bringing about change.