Anne Hathaway speaks out for real-life Fantines

Anne Hathaway.

Anne Hathaway.

In the aftermath of her Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway is doing more than just running off into the sunset with her Oscar in hand. As she stood onstage accepting her award with the world watching, she sacrificed a few seconds of her coveted “thank you speech” window – a span of a few emotionally charged minutes that she likely dreamed of her whole life – to draw attention to something far greater than herself. She looked right into the camera and wished that “someday in the not too distant future, the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never more in real life.”

Hathaway is doing her part to make that a reality in whatever way she can.

The poverty, human trafficking, and downright cruelty faced by Fantine are all-too-real problems in the modern world. In developed communities it is sometimes easier to look the other way, but the fact is that the harsh mistreatment of women, some of which seems it could be straight out of a tragedy, occurs in every corner of the globe. Hathaway is well aware that her position in the spotlight can be used to raise awareness about this, and that’s exactly what she’s aiming to do.

Anne Hathaway as Fantine.

Anne Hathaway as Fantine.

This winter, Hathaway teamed up with playwright and activist Eve Ensler to spread the world about the One Billion Rising movement. One Billion Rising is a global action that aims to end violence against women – much like the violence faced by Fantine. One billion women on this earth have been victims of physical or sexual violence (that’s a sobering number isn’t it?). To represent those women, one billion people were invited to spend February 14 of this year dancing through the day. One Billion reintroduced women’s issues to the collective consciousness and brought people together all over the globe in solidarity.

Playing the ill-fated Fantine seems to have brought a new dimension of sensitivity and gratitude to an already very compassionate Hathaway. Having to immerse herself into such a dismal emotional place on set as she sang “I Dreamed A Dream,” she experienced just a fraction of what many women face in their day-to-day lives. Those women are often forgotten, and Hathaway is ready to remind us that those who wake up each morning to constant struggle and brutality are not to be left behind.

Hathaway is a charitable person on other fronts as well – when she released photos of her wedding to the media, the money she received in exchange for them was donated to gay marriage advocacy groups. She has a history of involvement with groups like the Step Up Women’s Network, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Creative Coalition.

About Claire H.

Writer, performer, picture-taker, New Yorker. Find me on Twitter at @Claire_Hannum.

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