WASHINGTON, D.C. – Polaris Project, a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, announced today that 12 Years a Slave Director Steve McQueen has been named an ambassador for the non-profit. McQueen will work alongside Polaris Project as an advocate against human trafficking, raising awareness that this is a modern-day problem that requires greater resources and action.
Since the release of 12 Years a Slave last fall, Polaris Project has worked with Fox Searchlight Pictures and Plan B Entertainment to raise awareness about human trafficking by highlighting the striking parallels between Solomon Northup’s story and the experiences of sex and labor trafficking victims today. Polaris Project is named after the North Star “Polaris” that guided people escaping slavery along the Underground Railroad.
“I am deeply honored to accept my role as an ambassador for Polaris Project. This is an organization that I truly believe is vital in fighting slavery today. From my first encounter with them, I was very impressed by their courage, determination and hard work,” said Steve McQueen, Director of 12 Years a Slave.
“We are delighted to welcome Steve as a Polaris Project Ambassador and look forward to continuing our work with him to raise awareness about modern slavery,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris Project. “12 Years a Slave has amplified our national conversation about historical slavery. Steve shares our passion to help people understand that this issue is still with us today. Human trafficking exists in every state in the nation, from truck stops and motels to farms and small businesses. Steve’s voice will help ensure victims of human trafficking know there is help and encourage community members to learn about modern slavery and call the national human trafficking hotline when they see it.”
Polaris Project hosted special screenings of the film in Washington, D.C. in October 2013 and in San Francisco in February 2014. McQueen and Myles also participated on a panel together, moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe of the Sinai Temple, following a screening at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in November. Myles published an article about the film for CNN Opinion, which can be viewed here. 12 Years a Slave received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for McQueen.
Human trafficking is a thriving criminal industry, with traffickers making billions in profits by using force, fraud, or coercion to rob victims of their freedom. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris Project, received reports of 5,214 cases of human trafficking in 2013 (read more 2013 statistics here). The hotline is a lifeline for victims of modern slavery and a resource for community members to provide tips and request information.