IN THE NAME OF LOVE
TO BRING AWARENESS TO THE DEVASTATION OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING, KATE BOSWORTH STEPS BEHIND THE LENS TO CAPTURE RISING STAR SULEM CALDERON.
Many of us are guilty of the crime of distancing ourselves from crime itself, both literally and metaphysically; we often consider the most inconceivable crime as something that happens over there, away from us. But the reality is even more disturbing.
“It is likely we have all come into contact with a survivor of human trafficking, but just didn’t know it,” Kate Bosworth, a passionate advocate for survivors, tells us. “They might be at a grocery store, an emergency room, a bus stop, or taking the children of the trafficker to school. They are under the watchful eye of the traffickers, however, so if you suspect a case of human trafficking, it is important to contact an organization with expertise in the issue.”
To shed much-needed light on the epidemic of modern slavery and human trafficking, Kate and her husband Michael Polish co-produced the forthcoming feature film NONA, currently making the rounds on the festival circuit—Polish received the Best Original Screenplay award at the Richmond International Film and Music Festival. The film, their first feature-length project, puts a face to Central America’s sex trafficking industry; beginning its journey in Honduras, it follows the harrowing path of a young Honduran girl (played by Sulem Calderon, our shoot’s star, and Best Actress winner at the Richmond International Film and Music Festival) from her home in San Pedro Sula, across four countries, and into a living hell of servitude in a world of modern-day sex slavery. The film’s title is an acronym for “no name,” a nod to the often faceless victims of human trafficking.
“We had heard the story of a sex house that was busted in Los Angeles, not far from our own home,” Kate tells us of the initial inspiration for the film. “These girls were the same age as Michael’s daughter, my stepdaughter, Jasper. Our initial thought was, ‘What can we do to help?’ Michael set out to write the script for NONA; our hope was to tell a story that starts with one girl—to show the humanity of the person and to help an audience understand how this can happen, rather than be overwhelmed by statistics.”
To Kate’s point, the statistics are staggering. The unbelievable reality is that human trafficking is the second-largest criminal enterprise in the US, and the third-largest in the world. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are more than 40 million people currently enslaved globally; this equates to 5.4 people per 1,000 enslaved worldwide.
“We realized that often these girls (and boys) are criminalized rather than victimized, and it was important to us to impart empathy on the situation in order to properly energize viewers to want to learn more and help,” Kate explains. “NONA is not just a movie to us, but a call to action, so it was imperative that the film be as authentic as possible. Every day I feel grateful to be married to a man who is this committed to telling important stories—and female-forward ones. Together, we hope to make pictures that make a difference.”
To further that impact, more than a year ago Kate partnered with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the nation’s largest provider of life-changing services to survivors of human trafficking. The first anti-trafficking organization in the US, CAST LA provides immediate, direct services to survivors of human trafficking, and mobilizes citizens to support the cause.
The collaboration between Kate and J BRAND is one that came about naturally, after we learned not only of Kate’s dedication to this oft-overlooked cause, but also of her remarkable skill at photography.
“Truly, the collaboration began in the most organic way possible. Mary [Peffer, J BRAND’s Senior Marketing and Communications Director] and I had lunch one day; she asked what my interests were currently, and I answered with the desire to create more behind the lens. She was intrigued and 100% supportive. We kept in touch, shaping the idea of this story together,” Kate shares. “It was important that it be authentic and make an impact in a philanthropic way. I suggested Sulem Calderon as the model, because not only is she insanely beautiful, but because she literally is the face of NONA. She represents, cinematically, all of the girls sold into trafficking who have no name. Not only is this project an introduction to Sulem as an actress, but it also shines a light on a very important issue. This collaboration is a true extension of all things important to me and also the brand.
“I am so grateful to the J BRAND team to trust my ability and vision for this project. They allowed me a creative freedom and fluidity that is rare. I believe it is important for artists to be able to express themselves freely, and this is something J BRAND supports wholeheartedly. It was a magical collaboration for me.”
While on set with Sulem, Kate was inspired to personalize our white Carolina tee with the word “LOVE”—a value at the heart of both NONA and of Kate’s work to educate others on the epidemic of human trafficking. Our in-house design team re-produced the piece, and a limited run of the tees is now available, with 100% of net proceeds going directly to CAST LA.
“Considering the nature of the collaboration, I thought it could be a powerful message to write the word ‘LOVE’ on the collar of the shirt. Love is the greatest element to overcome all things dark in this world. When you meet survivors of human trafficking, they are all so full of love, despite their past circumstances,” Kate tells us. “Without love, we have nothing; the idea was to keep this notion close to your mind and heart. I had Michael write it himself because he has the best handwriting of anyone I know! I also love a classic white tee, and J BRAND truly makes the best luxe basics.”
You can shop the LOVE tee on our site now, and CAST LA graciously welcomes donations from the public—all proceeds go directly to survivors of human trafficking on their journeys to safety and healing. Making a life-transforming contribution today will ensure that this generation of survivors is our last.
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