Inspired and ReWIRED: How a TV star is becoming a change agent

Many months ago I blogged about my affinity for the HBO series The Wire, which portrays gritty urban life on the streets of Baltimore, with an ongoing focus on the city’s drug wars.  The series has won deserved critical acclaim, and now it appears to be sparking positive social change.

The Boston Globe reports that Sonja Sohn, the actress who played Detective Shakima Greggs on the series, has founded a non-profit organization, ReWIRED for Change, that “tries to help youths in underserved communities.”  Sohn is working with a local activist to create a school curriculum that uses episodes of The Wire:

For almost a year, one of the show’s stars has been working with a Boston community activist to create a curriculum based on “The Wire’’. The program would gather a group of young people already involved in the criminal system or at risk of being drawn in, and for at least five hours a week for at least six weeks, show them episodes.

In an interview with the Globe, Sohn talks about how her own background has fueled her desire to take this path:

I think my own experiences inform me more than anything … My family loved me and if you have love that’s the difference between someone becoming a sociopath and someone having a shot at the end of the day. I was loved, but there were bases that weren’t covered. There was a certain amount of emotional neglect outside of the home, there were abuses which led me to [experiment] with the drug life. When the idea for this organization came up and when the idea for the program came up and when I started to facilitate the program every step of the way it became more and more obvious that I was basically born to do this … This was one of the most profound purposes of my existence.

People discover their missions in life through a variety of circumstances.  Here, an individual’s own life experiences and her dramatic portrayal of a Baltimore detective combined to inspire a brand of grassroots social entrepreneurship that addresses the very despair and hopelessness reflected in some of the most gut-wrenching episodes of the TV series.

Maria Cramer’s article in the Globe about ReWIRED: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/10/29/the_wire_sparks_a_connection/

Globe’s interview with Sohn: http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/10/qa_actor_see_th.html

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