Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Photo: Beowulf Sheehan
Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She grew up in the university town of Nsukka where she attended primary and secondary schools and briefly studied medicine and pharmacy. She then moved to the United States to attend college, graduating summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State with a major in communications and a minor in political science. She holds a master's degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins and a master's degree in African studies from Yale.
She is a 2008 MacArthur Foundation fellow. Her first novel Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book and the Huston/Wright Legacy Award. It was short-listed for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and long-listed for the Booker Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in Granta, Prospect, and The Iowa Review among other literary journals, and she received the O. Henry Prize in 2003. Her second novel Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange Prize. Her work has been translated into 30 languages. She divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
Gael García Bernal
An actor nearly all his life, Gael García Bernal began performing in stage productions with his parents in Mexico, and later studied at the Central School for Speech and Drama in London. His major feature film debut was in Alejandro Gonzalez's Amores Perros, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2000. He gained more attention for Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También, where he starred opposite his close friend, Diego Luna.
He subsequently starred in the title role of Carlos Carrera's Academy Award-nominated El Crimen del padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro) and played the revolutionary leader Che Guevara in Walter Salles's The Motorcycle Diaries. Other roles include: Pedro Almodóvar's La mala educación (Bad Education), James Marsh's independent feature The King, Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's Babel, Hector Babenco's El Pasado, Carlos Cuaron's Rudo y Cursi, Fernando Meirelles' Blindness, Lukas Moodysson's Mammoth and Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control.
He founded the film production company Canana with Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz in 2005. Since then, they've produced JC Chavez, Deficit, Cochochi, Voy a explotar, Solo quiero caminar, Cefalópodo, Sin Nombre and Abel. Together, they also run the Ambulante documentary film festival, that travels around several cities in Mexico.
García Bernal made his directorial debut with Deficit, a low-budget feature film shot in Mexico. He also directed the short film The Letter for the full-length feature film 8 and the short film Lucio for the collective Mexican film Revolucion.
Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 25 years. A native of San Francisco, California, Glover graduated from San Francisco State University and trained at the Black Actors’ Workshop of the American Conservatory Theater. He started his acting career on the stage, appearing in Athol Fugard’s The Island and Sizwe Banzi is Dead. However, it was Glover’s Broadway debut in Fugard’s Master Harold… and the Boys that first brought him national recognition and led to his leading role in Places in the Heart, followed by Peter Weir’s Witness and Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple.
In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon film, earning an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. He went on to star in three sequels. Glover has also invested his talents in more personal projects, including the award-winning To Sleep With Anger, which he executive produced and for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor, Bopha!, Manderlay, Missing in America, and the film version of Athol Fugard’s play Boesman and Lena. Glover’s many film credits also include the critically-acclaimed Dreamgirls, Shooter, The Royal Tenenbaums, Beloved (for which he won an Image Award for Best Actor), The Rainmaker, Angels in the Outfield, and Lawrence Kasdan’s Grand Canyon and Silverado. Glover has also lent his distinctive voice to such animated films as Antz, The Prince of Egypt, and the upcoming Barnyard.
On the small screen, Glover has won many awards and nominations for projects that include: the HBO movie Mandela, Lonesome Dove, Fallen Angels, the telefilm Freedom Song, the miniseries Alex Haley's Queen, Buffalo Soldiers, and Good Fences, which he also produced. Behind the camera, Glover executive produced and hosted the Fox Family Channel series Courage, and executive produced and starred in the Showtime movie 3 A.M. As a director, he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for Showtime’s Just a Dream.
In 2005, along with producing partner Joslyn Barnes, Glover co-founded Louverture Films, which is dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. The company’s credits include the award-winning features Bamako, Salt of this Sea and The Time that Remains, the Oscar-nominated documentary Trouble the Water, the music documentaries Africa Unite and the Oscar-shortlisted Soundtrack for a Revolution.
He has also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts. Glover currently serves as a UNICEF Ambassador and, in recognition of his dedication to public service, has received numerous prestigious honours including the 2002 Marian Anderson Award, the 2003 NAACP Chairman’s Award, the 2004 BET Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2009 CBCF Phoenix Award. He is also Chairman of the Board of TransAfrica Forum, a non-profit global justice organization whose focus is on fostering a closer alliance among and address issues facing African Americans and peoples in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
Daniel K. Inouye
Daniel K. Inouye, the most senior member and president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, is known for his distinguished record as a legislative leader, and as a World War II combat veteran with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who earned the nation’s highest award for military valor, the Medal of Honor.
Although he was thrust into the limelight in the 1970s as a member of the Watergate Committee and in 1987 as Chairman of the Iran-Contra Committee, he has also made his mark as a respected legislator able to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact meaningful legislation. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Inouye has been able to focus on defense matters that strengthen national security, and enhance the quality of life for military personnel and their families. He became the first Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, served as the third-ranking leader among Senate Democrats as Secretary of the Democratic Conference from January 1979 through 1988. He chaired the Senate Democratic Central America Study Group to assess U.S. policy and served as Senior Counselor to the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (also known as the Kissinger Commission).
Senator Inouye got his start in politics in 1954 when he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives; soon after his election, his Democratic colleagues, well aware of Inouye’s leadership abilities, selected him as their Majority Leader. In 1958 he was elected to the Territorial Senate. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, he was elected the first Congressman from the new state, and was re-elected to a full term in 1960. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962 and is now serving his eighth consecutive term.
Born in Benin, West Africa, Angélique Kidjo is a Grammy award-winning music recording artist deemed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time magazine. Kidjo’s internationally acclaimed repertoire includes collaborations with various recording artists such as Carlos Santana, Peter Gabriel, Alicia Keys, Josh Groban, Branford Marsalis, Joss Stone, and many more. One of the true stars of world music, she has spread her Afro-fusion to the far reaches of the globe, cross-pollinating the West African of her childhood with elements of R&B, jazz, and funk, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. Kidjo commands the stage with her fun-loving personality, electrifying charisma, and her “voice has never sounded more expressive or exquisitely nuanced” (The Times, London). She crosses musical boundaries and, in doing so, seeks to unite different world cultures through music. Kidjo has translated her distinctive work in the arts to that of philanthropy, by promoting education for girls in Africa through her foundation, Batonga. She also works for Oxfam and as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, traveling the world to inspire and empower.
Charles Annenberg Weingarten
Charles Annenberg Weingarten is a filmmaker, philanthropist, and storyteller. As a Director and Vice President of the Annenberg Foundation, he started explore as a way to identify selfless individuals who are making a positive social impact through non-profit organizations and initiatives - and then share their stories through short documentary films and photography. Through explore, Charles has been involved with a wide range of organizations and programs, including:
In all, explore has supported more than 100 non-profit organizations through grants from Annenberg Foundation. Charles has always pursued broad interests in philanthropy, the arts, global spirituality, and communication. In 2003, recognizing the importance of social networking on the web, Charles established the Online Communities Program of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California (USC). Charles has long been an avid supporter of and advocate for independent media. Before starting explore, he wrote and directed several films that were featured in various film festivals.
Photo: Donata Wenders
Wim Wenders was born in post-war Germany in 1945. One of the most influential figures of the New German Cinema in the Seventies, his films––among them The American Friend (1978), Paris, Texas (1984), Wings of Desire (1987), and Buena Vista Social Club (1999)––have won numerous prestigious awards, among them the Palm d’Or in Cannes, the Golden Lion in Venice, and an Academy Award nomination. He has made films in his native country, all over Europe, in the U.S., in Australia, and in Asia. Wim Wenders also made several music films, and some of his soundtracks have reached cult status. He works as a photographer, too. A major survey of his photography, Pictures from the Surface of the Earth, has toured museums and art institutions worldwide since 2001. He has published numerous books of essays and photographs, and teaches film as a Professor at the Hamburg Art School. He is President of the European Film Academy, and member of the order “Pour le Mérite.” Wim Wenders now lives in Berlin with his wife, photographer Donata Wenders and is presently working on his first 3D film, “Pina.”