Sunday, May 06, 2007

One Last Free Natalie Plug

This time USA Today is running a story on Natalie Portman and her work for micro-banks to help Third World women. Again, other than maybe Julia Stiles to a degree, what young actress (or actor) can you think of right now who has SAINT written all over her, which might be a bit problematic being that Catholics are the ones with the saints, not Jews. Anyway, here's the main bit, but go read the whole thing:

Many of her appearances were designed to tout an organization she has been championing for four years: the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA), which provides micro loans to the poor through its Village Banking program.

At Wednesday's NYU lunch, Portman, 25, joined Jordan's Queen Rania, co-chair of the Village Banking campaign, in calling for an increase in microfinance resources. After her speech, the actress pulled a black FINCA T-shirt over her cream-colored dress and chatted with college students.

And in a later interview, Portman is careful to stay focused on the issue. Not once in the conversation does she try to tout her new movie or the higher-profile The Other Boleyn Girl, due around Oscar time. Nor does she mention that she's in the video for Paul McCartney's new single, Dance Tonight.

She reels off statistics and sounds like a proud mom when she recalls a woman she met in Mexico who used a loan from FINCA to start a small company after her husband temporarily left her — and 10 years later, he works for her. "It's just incredible," she sighs.

She counts Rania as one of her own heroes. "And there are people in my own profession I admire, who have done things and made substantial change, like Bono and Angelina Jolie. They are models for how you can meaningfully devote your life to causes. It's not just lending your face. It's giving yourself."

It's clear she finds such pursuits rewarding. "A lot of people lack meaning in their lives, and that's why getting active in issues like microfinance gives you such a center to your life."