Hollywood on the Potomac
“I’m so honored to be here today,” said actress Robin Wright who plays First Lady Claire Underwood in House of Cards. “I’m nervous. I forgot who I’m talking about because I’m speaking before a room full of such impressive women and of course, yes, a few great men. There’s one women in particular who I’m excited to talk about today. In her guest editor letter for the July/August issue of MORE, she writes, ‘Before she gets behind any important initiative she asks herself 3 key questions: One, is this something that I’m truly passionate about, something that inspires me, or infuriates me. Can I have an impact here? Can I really move the needle? Will my work on this topic further my husband’s agenda for the Nation?’” Wright, of course, is referring to First Lady Michelle Obama who dons the July/August cover of MORE, which she also guest edited.
“Robin plays another kind of First Lady – Claire Underwood – a quite terrifying and power hungry politico who will stop at nothing to get what she wants,” Editor-in-Chief of MORE Magazine Lesley Jane Seymour said when introducing Wright at a luncheon in honor of the summer issue and the first annual Impact Awards at The Newseum. “She’s obviously the exact opposite of the real First Lady that we all know and love. In real life though, Robin Wright and Michelle Obama share common ground, a passion for empowering women in need. Five years ago, Robin traveled to the Eastern Congo with the Enough Project which investigates crimes against humanity in conflict areas. She met women who were victims of abuse and rape and she was moved to help. Last year she teamed up with her good friend designer, Karen Fowler. They launched an elegant sleepwear line, Pour Les Femmes, whose proceeds go to these women to help these victims get back on their feet. Robin is an award-winning actress, a true humanitarian, and proof that when you’re passionate about something you can make a real impact on the world.”
The Irish are known for their great writers, poets and story-tellers. Perhaps the best description of the Irish personality comes from the popular historian Carl Wittke: “The so-called Irish temperament is a mixture of flaming ego, hot temper, stubbornness, great personal charm and warmth, and a wit that shines through adversity. An irrepressible buoyancy, a vivacious spirit, a kindliness and tolerance for the common frailties of man.” All of these combine to make it all the more surprising that no one has ever before done a film before about the 1916 Easter Rising, “It’s the perfect medium for looking at the Irish story,” according to filmmaker Kevin McCann who is currently in pre-production of “The Rising” which tells that story. He too finds that void of Irish story telling about the rising to be strangely missing from historical Irish films that include Michael Collins starring Liam Neeson in the Neil Jordan movie which was made 20 years ago.
The 1916 Easter Rising was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week 1916 mounted by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in World War I. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798. So why hasn’t this story ever been captured on screen before?
“Well, there’s a couple of things,” McCann told Hollywood on the Potomac. “The 1916 Easter Rising was between the famine Ireland and free Ireland. It was a moment when the 1,000 or 1,500 men and women who were essentially enslaved by an empire, decided to rebel and it wasn’t a popular move at the time in the country. By the time they were executed the rebellion had lasted six years; and when they were executed, Ireland was never the same again. Within a few years, there was a new Irish Republic and it all stems from those actions of men and women who were influenced most by what happened in the United States and in what Washington did. They had a Proclamation of Independence which was very influenced by the Declaration of Independence here in the States, and they saw that here is a country that’s free from the British Empire and thought maybe we can do the same.”
Do not call Jessica Alba a starlet. Many people might know the 34-year-old as an actress from Sin City, The Fantastic Four or TV’s Dark Angel; but these days, Alba is all business and she wants you to know it. Alba is the co-founder of the The Honest Company, a consumer products company aimed mainly at child and childcare products that emphasizes natural materials and ethical consumerism. Now before you start thinking this is another Hollywood vanity project, the Honest Company has grown exponentially since its founding in 2011 and is now valued near $1 Billion. Alba and her partners take this growth seriously; she was recently on the cover of business mag Forbes, and that’s only the beginning.
Alba and the team are looking more broadly than their own company these days, coming to Washington recently with a delegation of companies under the umbrella of the American Sustainable Business Council, to advocate for reform on chemical use in consumer products including the long awaited overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
“I really just went about developing and creating the business and all of its attributes around what I wanted as a consumer and what I felt; the needs weren’t being met, my needs weren’t being met and people’s needs weren’t being met…to have effective, safe, beautifully designed and affordable products to live a healthier life” said Alba, talking about the genesis of the her company, an idea she started to dream up while pregnant with her first child. “Everybody wants a safe and healthy world, especially for children. They are the most vulnerable the most susceptible to adverse effects on how these chemicals can affect their health,” she added as she described the importance of the changes she came to Capitol Hill to demand during meetings with several high ranking members of Congress.