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Hero of the Heart: Robin Renzi
MM: Mariska—or her character, Detective Benson—wears the Fearlessness pendant on her show, Law and Order: SVU. How did that come about?
RR: When Mariska saw the pendant—someone on the set showed it to her for the first time—she really related to the word and to the feeling it inspires. She’s so sensitive and she really appreciated both the aesthetic and what was behind it. The fact that she’s wearing the necklace now and taking on this violence every week on her show and through Joyful Heart—she’s busting down the walls around this. She’s dismantling the taboo of staying silent. She’s talking about it. She’s giving survivors a voice. And that gives young girls the courage to talk about it, too. It’s all about overcoming that fear.
MM: How did you come to support Joyful Heart? And in such a dedicated and meaningful way?
RR: Mariska called me up and asked if I would help her out. I said yes before she was finished asking the question. This is a cause that’s really close to my heart. One of my closest friends suffered through this. I mean, quite frankly, I know very, very few women who haven’t experienced some kind of sexual violence or exploitation. I have a daughter. This is a very important cause to me. And, you know, working with Joyful Heart makes me realize how important it is for people to make these changes themselves, instead of leaving it up to others. It’s like that Margaret Meade quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I love that quote. And it’s true.
MM: By contributing so much of your time, effort and artistic talent to Joyful Heart, what change do you hope to promote?
RR: I want to end it. No more rape. No more abuse. Period. It should never, ever happen. Short of that, I want people who suffer this violence—every girl, every boy, and every woman—to have a place to go to get everything they need: medical care, comfort, healing, and refuge. I want them to be believed. I want them to know that they are not alone. When it happens, there needs to be this public outcry, this collective “How dare he!” We need to change the social consciousness. I believe Joyful Heart is doing that. With someone as visible and as fearless as Mariska at the forefront of this organization and this movement, we are starting to, like I said, bust down the walls and break through the taboos. Joyful Heart is making a real and honest difference. And I want to help in any I can.