Actors and industry leaders gathered alongside actress Mariska Hargitay and the Joyful Heart Foundation at Milk Studios on Thursday night to spread awareness and raise funding to end domestic violence at the actress’ JoyRocks event.
“Our goal is that we would leave you informed, deeply inspired and a little less rich,” host Peter Hermann said as he welcomed hundreds of guests to his wife’s benefit dinner.
The Law and Order: SVU actress, whose season 15 premiere bested its rivals and drew in 9.5 million viewers on Wednesday, welcomed the likes of Hilary Swank, Christopher Meloni, Maria Bello, Marcia Gay Harden, Dick Wolf, Bob Greenblatt, Jennifer Salke and many more to her Joyful Heart Foundation’s benefit dinner and the launch of the "NO MORE" public service announcement.
“Tonight is about brave souls, fearlessness, stepping up, being engaged and no more bystanding. No more. Here’s a room full of courage, and it just inspires the shit out of me. Yeah, I said it,” Hargitay told The Hollywood Reporter about her foundation’s goals: healing, empowering survivors and shedding light.
Joyful Heart Foundation was founded in 2004 by Hargitay, who was inspired by the plethora of thank-you fan mail she received from domestic violence victims and SVU fans who felt connected to her character on the NBC show. The foundation partnered with major organizations to launch the "NO MORE" PSA, a campaign designed to galvanize greater awareness to end domestic violence.
“Any time [actors] can use their voices to raise awareness for something that needs a bright light to shine on it, it’s an honor to be a part of it. Mariska is my best friend, and she has done extraordinary work in creating the Joyful Heart Foundation and now the 'NO MORE' PSA,” Swank said. “[Hargitay] is giving [victims] a place to go to heal and to say 'No more excuses, no more violence, no more ignorance.' I’m just so proud of her.”
The Milk Studios hangar (where the PSAs were also filmed) displayed banners with varying celebrity faces and the words “NO MORE” preceding commonly used excuses from assault victims. Forty-five actors, including Amy Poehler, Courteney Cox, Tim Gunn and Ice-T, joined the NO MORE campaign to use their star power in spreading awareness of the issue.
“All of these show business people have a name. They are famous, and whatever they say people do. They look up to them and will follow them,” Grimm actress Shohreh Aghdashloo said. “All of these people, the victims, don’t have a voice and don’t have a name. We don’t know their faces. But we know that there are a lot of them.”
Taking effect in September 2013, the three-year campaign will be dispersed nationwide via print, broadcast and online media and displayed in movie theaters, major airports and medical facilities.
The benefit dinner and open auction ended with a vocal performance by singer Elle King and a set from DJ Samantha Ronson, raising $700,000.
“I’m feeling high, I’m feeling invigorated, I’m feeling hopeful, and I know that we can do this,” Hargitay shared with THR. “I’m profoundly grateful to be with like-minded people who are fearless enough to step into their God-given power. Here we are, and we’re going to change the world.”
To find out more about Joyful Heart Foundation and the NO MORE campaign, and to get involved, go to joyfulheartfoundation.org and nomore.org.