Intern Jesse here to share what the "Connie Britton: Actress as Advocate" evening program was like!
On Tuesday night, NPR's Linda Holmes sat down for a conversation with actress Connie Britton in the National Museum of Natural History's Baird Auditorium. Britton is best known for her roles in NBC's "Friday Night Lights" and ABC and CMT's "Nashville," and has also made appearances in "American Horror Story," "24," and "Spin City." Off screen, Britton holds the role of goodwill ambassador for the UN Development Programme.
Although the auditorium was large, the talk felt intimate with a very engaged audience. The evening started off with Holmes delving into Britton's start in acting (at age seven she was writing plays with her sister) and asking how her schooling played a part, if at all, in her success. Britton explained that she first attended Dartmouth with a major in Chinese, and the experience helped her to grow and learn more about the world. From there she went on to attend theater school in New York City, which is where she started her career. Britton spoke about her various acting roles, why she accepted the roles, and the responsibility she felt to women, to play characters that are more than "the supportive wife." When asked about her ambitions and what she sees for her future, Britton explained that she feels lucky everyday to live the life she always envisioned for herself. The next challenge as an actor that she would like the take on would be to create something from the ground up.
It was her reference to women in her industry and the struggles they face that made her UN role seem all the more fitting. In working with the UN as an ambassador, Britton focuses her efforts on poverty, particularly ending inequality. When she traveled to Africa with the ONE campaign, she became even more aware of the fact that "poverty is sexist." She hopes to help women feel empowered because, as she says, when women feel empowered, everything changes. Britton explained that before her acting career was established, she had hopes of helping the world. Her love of acting has led her to success, and with that success has come a platform with which to help the world by giving her time to charity. She explained that if you do something you love, most likely you will have the chance to use it to put good into the world.
After the discussion, the floor was open for questions. One audience member asked about what steps one can take to make a difference. Connie Britton's answer? Start next door. Start with your neighbor, then outward to your community, and from there your world, as each is an extension of the other.
The auditorium was full of Britton's fans, and one even offered Britton an invitation to her wedding during the Q&A! I too was a fan of Connie Britton prior to the evening, having watched "Friday Night Lights." That said, I had not known of her humanitarian work nor of her activism for women's rights. Her words were genuine and bold, and I left an even bigger fan than when I arrived.