“Freedom of Expression” was the theme for The New Hollywood’s Benefit on Sunday for Free the Slaves—and they couldn’t have expressed it better. With rousing tributes to Marvin Gaye, Christina Aguilera, and Maya Angelou, the group sang, danced, and shimmied their way across a performance worthy of Broadway.
Alexis Carra, the director of the benefit and a Broadway veteran herself, told the New Hollywood Group to “sing, dance, be open, love, smile, create, and carry on a tradition of expression as a means of building relationships” as a way to get the audience to take action.
Performances of Chigago’s “Hot Honey Rag” and Alison Krausse’s ”Down to the River” were featured, along with a choreographed medley of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.”
In addition to exciting musical numbers, the group paid tribute to the names and faces of slavery survivors—such as Maria Suarez, a former slave trafficked to Los Angeles from 1976 (at age 15) to 2004.
“This isn’t a play. This isn’t fiction. This is someone’s life. I want to do her story justice.” said Beth Navarro, a TNH member who gave a stirring monologue about Suarez’s life.
Navarro was also responsible for gathering Free the Slave’s research about slavery for the “facts” section, a spoken word presentation by TNH performers that utilized top 10 facts about slavery in a metaphorical dance routine.
For Navarro, learning about the details of slavery was eye-opening, providing an inspiration for her monologue on Maria Suarez.
“When I saw some of the testimonials on their (Free the Slaves) website I knew I had to tell one of these stories. I pored over videos, their thought-provoking documentary, Dreams Die Hard, and read interviews conducted with freed slaves. I realized how ignorant I was to this issue. I didn’t reaize how wide-spread human trafficking was…and when I read Maria’s story, I had no idea it happened in my own backyard.” Navarro said.
Not all of the evening was somber, however.
There were also times for laughs, courtesy of TNH member Annie Tedesco. Sashaying her way across the stage in a leotard and legwarmers, Tedesco brought comic relief and Flashdance renditions, interrupting Emcees and posing for our camera with a “Freedom Sucks” sign.
Those of us watching the benefit from the Free the Slaves booth were impressed and inspired by the performance, and grateful to the New Hollywood Group for such a fantastic show!
“Hearing the ladies of TNH bring to life the transcripts of slavery survivors was deeply moving to me…it really helped show that the divisions between us and modern day slavery are really thin…and Annie Tedesco’s leotard was a nice touch.” said Anne Keehn, the Web Producer for Free the Slaves.
At the end of the night, the women of TNH invited all of the attendees to join them for an after-hours dance party, celebrating the freedom of expression.
Once again, thank you so much to the lovely ladies of TNH!
Last year’s recipient of the Fredrick Douglass Freedom Award, activist Tina Frundt, made headlines when she returned to Cleveland—the place she had been trafficked into sex slavery when she was just a teenager.
Frundt has been active in the fight against the multimillion dollar sex trafficking industry, starting her own anti-slavery non-profit called Courtney’s House—a place where services and resources are provided to survivors of the trade in Washington, D.C.
Frundt’s visit to Cleveland was covered by local newspaper The Plain Dealer. Check out the article below!
National activist fighting sex trafficking says she was first exploited in Cleveland
By Margaret Bernstein, The Plain Dealer
Tina Frundt doesn’t have happy memories of Cleveland. The former foster child arrived here from Chicago on her 14th birthday, in a car driven by a man who convinced her he loved her when no one else did.
She said she was taken to a house where four other teen girls lived and was raped by two men she didn’t know, beginning what would become more than a decade of being trafficked as a sex slave.
Get ready! On October 23, the New Hollywood Women’s Goal Group will be hosting their first-ever performance benefit entitled “Free to Express” to raise money for Free the Slaves.
TNH is asking for a $27 dollar donation, in honor of the 27 million people in slavery today.
TNH is a philanthropic goal group of female professionals—all in the entertainment industry—dedicated to doing good by providing a “safe environment” to help each other achieve “individual, personal and professional goals.”
“I feel blessed in so many ways for the life that I am fortunate enough to lead day in and day out. The reason we (The New Hollywood ladies) feel so strongly to share the works of Free the Slaves through this artistic format is because we want to pay homage to all those working to free others as well as those enslaved,” said Brianna Brown, TNH Founder and CEO.
TNH says the benefit represents the celebration of freedom of expression—which they will act out through song, dance, poetry, and comedy.
For Summer Sinclair, the VP of Charity for TNH, the benefit for Free the Slaves also hits a personal note.
Sinclair will be getting married in India and traveling to Bihar, a place notorious for indentured servitude and slavery.
“Free the Slaves Organization is very close to my heart…. Since Bihar has one of the highest slave/indentured servant populations in India, being a part of this event to create awareness is very important to me,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair added that she was deeply inspired by the story of Pholwhati Devi, a former slave from Uttar Pradesh who rose to empower others in her own village. (You can see CNN’s coverage of Devi in the video below. CNN has been covering the work of Free the Slaves through their year-long “Freedom Project” initiative. Check out more CNN videos of FTS here.)
“The fact that a former slave like her has risen to political leadership and is helping others find freedom shows me that we can end slavery once and for all.” Sinclair said.
The event features performances from actresses Brianna Brown, (General Hospital, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) Virginia Williams, (Fairly Legal) and Angel Parker, (Lab Rats, Hannah Montana) directed by Broadway Veteran Alexis Carra.
Pre-show cocktails begin at 7:00 pm, with the performance starting at 8:00pm. Afterwards, guests are encouraged to join the performers for a dance party to celebrate the freedom of expression!
A big thank you to the lovely ladies of TNH for all of their support!
Thousands of Nepalis have petitioned their government to adopt the world’s primary anti-trafficking treaty. Nepali anti-slavery groups supported by Free the Slaves have mobilized impressive grassroots support for the “Palermo Protocol.”
The protocol’s official name is the “United Nations Protocol to Prevent and Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.” The name says it all. Countries that adopt this pact commit to combating slavery and helping survivors rebuild their lives. So far, 146 countries have signed. But Nepal, which was suffering under civil war, has lagged behind.
The petition – and street rallies to show that fighting slavery is important to Nepali citizens – was organized by the Alliance Against Trafficking in Women and Children in Nepal, a coalition supported by Free the Slaves.
“It is an exciting milestone,” says Free the Slaves Nepal Director Neelam Sharma. “Nepalis have shown their commitment to fighting slavery,” she says.
There’s a hopeful sign that Nepal’s Parliament will adopt the Palermo Protocol. Nepal recently adopted the U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. Countries must adopt this umbrella treaty before they can ratify the anti-trafficking protocol.
You can see the frontline work of our Nepali partners in an uplifting 13-minute video called “Turning the Tide: Fighting Slavery in Nepal” below:
There’s slavery in every shopping mall in America. From cocoa, coffee and clothing—to cars, computers and cell phones—many products sold in the U.S. are tainted by slavery. Sometimes it’s sweatshop slavery where goods are manufactured. Other times, it’s brutal child slavery at plantations and mines where commodities and raw materials come from.
The latest video from Free the Slaves is a powerful and practical business briefing. “Becoming a Slavery-Free Business” is intended to motivate corporations to investigate if their products are tainted by slavery, and seek ways to get the slavery out.
Consumers, investors and regulators want to remove slavery from U.S. store shelves. California has already enacted rules that will soon affect thousands of products sold in America’s most populous state. A national law is pending in Congress.
“Becoming a Slavery-Free Business” is available for sale via the Free the Slaves website. It will help prepare companies, industries and trade associations for the growing groundswell of public sentiment to provide slavery-free products. If you’re in business, you should order a copy today. Proceeds help fight slavery around the globe.