Eva Mendes is hoping her recent visit to Sierra Leone will help shine a spotlight on the serious issues affecting girls and women across the globe.
The 38-year-old Cuban-American actress’ trip to the West African nation is all part of a special PBS series based on the best-selling book by the husband-wife team of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
The new series introduces Mendes and other celebrities, including America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde to women and girls living under harsh circumstances, ranging from maternal death to prostitution.
Mendes, who will be starring in HBO’s Clear History with Larry David, kicks off the four-hour series – airing October 1 and 2 at 9:00 pm ET on PBS – with her visit to Sierra Leone, where she meets with activist Amie Kandeh, a survivor of gender-based violence working with the International Rescue Committee to help other survivors toward safe, productive futures.
“I knew I was in for a life-changing experience,” Mendes says of participating in the project. “This experience has profoundly affected me. I was so shocked and saddened to learn the extent of gender-based violence taking place in Sierra Leone every day and that trip has made me want to be a part of the solution.”