What could an American actress, a civil rights advocate powerhouse, an ambitious young filmmaker and a Nobel Peace Prize winning president have in common? In the case of Sharon Stone, Shanin Mafi, John Viscount and Shimon Peres, a common desire to promote peace is all it took to prompt years of collaboration in various foundations, movements, and educational opportunities.
Yes, you knew Sharon Stone was not just an actress. Her charity work has become just as much a part of her reputation as her Hollywood status. Like many in the Hollywood circle, she has poured the monetary results of her success into a much more rewarding bucket: Peace Advocate. Now, she might very well be the United States’ first peace ambassador.
On July 25th, 2015, politicians and ambassadors gathered at the beautiful Potomac, Maryland home of Shanin Mafi, who not only founded the Azar Foundation for Children of the World but is the CEO of Home Health Connection, bettering medical care in the same spirit as her father and mother. (Her father was a pediatrician, while her mother was a humanitarian).
The event served not only as a place to talk about tangible ways to introduce peaceful enterprises (futuristic, right?) into our political system — both locally and on a global scale — but to screen an important short film by Viscount.
Described only half-jokingly by Stone as being “monastic” in his dedication to world peace, Viscount wrote the script for Admissions (directed by Harry Kakatsakis), a film that focuses on the journey of three people with different perspectives of the Middle East conflict. Stone introduced both the topic and the film with grace, a few jokes, and a lot of experience in peace seeking.
In 2013, she cohosted an online discussion panel aimed at Middle Eastern youth with Shimon Peres, with the goal of reaching out and opening minds to a coherent and peaceful dialogue about conflict. She also started the YaLa Youth Peace Movement, which spread like wildfire on Facebook. According to Stone, as of July 2nd this year, that peace movement begun by social media is now recognized as the largest humanitarian movement in the world.
The idea of these films, panels, and movements is to get youth involved and actively participating in the process of peace establishment and promotion.
Speaking directly to the crowd about to watch Admissions, Stone asserted: “It is the common man that will make the change. It’s the politician that will open the door for that change, but it’s each and every one of us that will follow your lead down that open highway.”
But what prompted this glamorous woman of Tinsel Town to venture into something so (dare I say it) political? Stone was never afraid to push herself. She described her family as a typical “blue-collar” Pennsylvania family, with one distinguishing factor: Her dad was “probably the first Democrat in a town where the newspaper was called The Tribune Republican,” she explained, as the crowd chuckled.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, as illustrated in her off-handed comment that her dad taught her not to let boys win so they would “like her,” Stone has spread her wings in all areas of advocacy and discussion.
“It’s amazing when you tune your life to the journey of helpfulness,” she said, before delving into the magnetic ripple effects of making that decision to live fully invested in others’ wellbeing. “Life is a service job,” she tells her three boys, ages 9, 10 and 15, whom she adopted.
As a mother and an advocate for peace, it’s not surprising that she has also been involved in developing the Mandela Peace University online, where youth can learn not only through study but by gaining real journalism experience, promoting peace and exposing needless and costly conflict.
But our youth aren’t the only ones in need of an education, and Stone did not back down from pointing out how lacking the American system is in terms of peaceful coalitions and systematic function.
“Our own country doesn’t have a peace department,” she said, appearing almost flabbergasted — partially disgusted, partially amused, as she spoke to the crowd of government suits. This is where she volunteered herself as a peace ambassador, should the need be recognized.
Her candor and poise seemed to strike all the right chords with the crowd, as many nodding heads affirmed the need for change. After John Viscount reminded the audience not to talk during the film, Stone reassured them, “You won’t.” And it’s hard not to believe her.
As a bonus, Stone announced that another film, also written by Viscount, was in the works and would need funding. As a sly bribe, she added that she would be starring.
The upcoming film, titled The Principle, targets cyber-bullying, another area of conflict with which most celebrities — and certainly Sharon Stone — can relate.
Megan Wallin is a young writer with a background in the social sciences and an interest in seeking the extraordinary in the mundane. A Seattle native, she finds complaining about the constant drizzle and overabundance of Starbucks coffee therapeutic. With varied work experiences as a residential counselor, preprimary educator, musician, writing tutor and college newspaper reporter/editor, Megan is thrilled to offer a unique perspective through writing, research and open dialogue.