Los Angeles — Mira Sorvino is the ambassador for Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women program, so she deemed it "a perfect fit" to star in a miniseries about the problem of women forced into sex slavery.
The script for the four-hour "Human Trafficking," airing 8 p.m. CDT Oct. 24-25 on Lifetime - the female-oriented network's first original miniseries - gave the Academy Award-winning actress the opportunity to combine "my social work with my acting."
She had been offered a feature film with a similar theme, but she chose the miniseries because she "was struck by its veracity and emotional power."
Sorvino plays Kate Morozov, a Russian-born, New York City detective, who, after witnessing the suicide of a young girl trafficked into prostitution, joins the fictional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which attempts to expose and arrest the criminals who exploit such women.
Sorvino collaborated with director Christian Duguay to "fill in shaded areas" of Agatha Dominik and Carol Doyle's screenplay, particularly concerning Morozov's character.
"We felt she should have her own history of sexual abuse ... which makes her feel very deeply about what she is doing, because she's having to look backward into her own vulnerability as well as using all her training and strength," says Sorvino.
"Mira was really concerned that we give some humanity to the character and not just have her be a harsh cop," adds Duguay, stressing, "I didn't want to turn this into a cop show."
Morovoz's drive to catch the bad guys is interwoven with detailed exposure of the plight of various victims, including a single mother from Prague and a teenager from Kiev - both of whom end up in American brothels - and a 12 year-old American kidnapped in Manila for shipment into slavery with other underage kids.
Robert Carlyle, who starred in the CBS miniseries "Hitler: The Rise of Evil," also directed by Duguay, plays the crime boss whose modeling business is a front for trafficking. Donald Sutherland is Morozov's boss at ICE.
Before a recent screening, Sorvino talked with informed ardor about the issues raised by the miniseries. She notes that statistics are unclear on how many people are trafficked into labor and sexual servitude, but the numbers could run as high as 4 million a year.
Sorvino, who met with women who escaped such enslavement, also feels the series helps debunk myths about prostitution being a lifestyle choice.
"These are women who are beaten, raped, sold ... mentally dominated, threatened that their families will be destroyed," says the 38-year-old actress. "They have no other options."
In 1996, the Harvard-educated Sorvino won numerous awards, including a supporting actress Oscar as the sexy, dimwitted prostitute in Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite." She also earned an Emmy nomination for the HBO movie "Norma Jean and Marilyn."