Mia Kirshner on Funding and Philanthropy
Mia Kirshner is best known for her work as a television and film actress. She has played leading roles in Love and Human Remains, Exotica and The Crow: City of Angels as well as the award-winning television series 24. In 2008, Kirshner published I Live Here with Random House/Pantheon. In the book, she documents women and children refugees in Chechnya, Ciudad Juárez and Malawi. It was co-produced with Adbusters collaborators Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons and features comic and graphic work by Joe Sacco and Phoebe Gloeckner. Proceeds from I Live Her Here go to Amnesty International. Kirschner studied Russian literature and 20th-century film industry at McGill University in Montreal.
Kirshner: The I Live Here Foundation, I mean, it’s new, but basically it’s very small and humble. And because I financed the first book myself primarily for the reason that I really didn’t know if what I was doing, if this concept would be successful and I didn’t feel right about asking for money. Amnesty gave a tiny bit of money in the beginning but that was it but I can’t continue to do that obviously. The scope of the project would just be too narrow. So, the foundation was started in part to continue the books because we’ve just have four, there are a lot of other stories to cover. And also, because I felt like, you know, this book, it doesn’t address the direct needs of the community and the people that I met, and I knew that when I traveled to these places, I did feel a responsibility to the people that I met. So, I felt like I wanted to give something back and the best thing that I know how to do is I felt like it should be in the realm of creative writing, you know. Because I saw how much these kids want to write and want in the sense of empowerment that it gives someone when they’re able to express themselves, and that when they feel positive, that positivity that’s put into their communities. So, Chris Abani who is a Creative Writing teacher at UC Riverside and an accomplished writer in his own right and contributed to the Burma chapter, he did the first curriculum for the Malawi project and that’s going to be in a juvenile prison in Malawi and Causecast funded that.
The money for I Live Here came mostly out of Mia Kirshner’s pocket, but she established the Foundation to fund future stories.