Mia Farrow captured her audience, not with her acting, but with her sincerity and compassion.
The audience at the Rhinehart Music Center sat in stunned silence Wednesday night as she showed photos of the people of Darfur taken during her 13 trips there.
And then there were the red-crayon drawings depicting the rape, mutilation and slaughter of families as seen by the children who survived.
Farrow kicked off the IPFW Omnibus Lecture Series talking about a cause she has become well-known for – the crisis afflicting the western Sudan region of Darfur.
Farrow was a privileged child, born to Australian film director John Farrow and Irish actress Maureen O’Sullivan. She grew up in Beverly Hills and often traveled with her parents as they worked on films that were produced on location.
She became famous for her role in the TV show Peyton Place, which was followed by more than 40 movies, including Rosemary’s Baby, The Great Gatsby and Hannah and Her Sisters.
She’s also the mother of 14 children, 10 of whom were adopted.
She has been to Darfur so many times, she said, children there are named after her.
But people there change their names all the time. There’s even one woman my age who has renamed herself Colin Powell, she said, sparking laughter.
But the people are losing hope. After 10 years, hundreds of thousands are still displaced and Darfur is still convulsed with violence, Farrow said.
She told of a woman she met named Halima, whose village came under attack by the proxy Arab militia, the Janjaweed. As she fled with her five children, she was beaten to the ground and the baby she held was ripped from her arms and bayoneted. Her husband and three of her five children were slaughtered that day.
Halima clasped my two hands, and pleaded with me to tell people what is happening here, to tell them they needed help, Farrow said.