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Susan Sarandon's Story   

Susan Sarandon has never been one to blindly accept all that she's told. Since the time she was a young girl growing up in Edison, New Jersey, she has challenged the status quo. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Susan continues her fight against social ills, working to ensure children have a chance to discover the world around them. She believes children have a right to be in school, where they can spend their time thinking about adventures in storybooks, not about how to feed their families.

One of nine brothers and sisters, Susan grew up in a Welsh-Italian household knowing the joys of playing with other children. Though born in New York, she spent most of her childhood in New Jersey. In elementary school, she did not readily accept her classroom lessons, questioning notions that she did not take as given. Aware of the social issues around her and throughout the world, Susan was active during the Viet Nam War and civil rights movements during her high school days.

At the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Susan took a broad selection of courses, ranging from drama and English to military strategy. To make tuition payments, Susan modeled, cleaned apartments and worked as a secretary for the drama department.Though she did not intend on pursuing acting, Susan was involved in a freshman show, where she captured the attention of graduate drama student Chris Sarandon. The two were married soon after.

Susan accompanied Chris to a reading for an agent in New York City, thinking her role would only be that of "a warm body to play against." To her surprise, the agent signed both her and her husband, and five days later, she got a part in the 1970 film Joe. Then came a spot as a regular on the soap operas As the World Turns, Search for Tomorrow and A World Apart. Notably, one of her first film roles was in The Front Page (1974), which also starred legendary actors Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

In the three decades of her professional acting career, Susan has been in over 60 films and television shows. She received Academy Award nominations for her performances in Atlantic City (1980), Thelma & Louise (1991), Lorenzo's Oil (1992) and The Client (1994). In 1995, Susan was awarded an Oscar for Dead Man Walking, a film she collaborated on with her current partner, Tim Robbins. Other films featuring Susan include Lovin' Molly (1974), Bull Durham (1998), Little Women (1994) and Igby Goes Down (2002).

The demands of a successful film career have not kept Susan from addressing the global and political issues that are closest to her heart. She is devoted to promoting women's issues, relieving hunger and helping people with HIV/AIDS. She was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999, the same year that she received the Amnesty International U.S.A. Media Spotlight Award for Leadership. In May 2000, Susan took part in a UNICEF field mission to the United Republic of Tanzania, where she opened a youth center and met activists protecting children from HIV/AIDS. She has also traveled to India to promote programmes aimed at early childhood development.

Susan was recently in Brazil hosting an episode of What's Going On? about the plight of child labourers. There, she met Eleandra, Reina, and Cristina, three children hoping to change their lives through education.

Susan is dedicated to helping these children and others like them, noting, "I see how my life and the lives of my kids are connected to the outside world. How can you not participate in the world you live in?" Equipped with a critical mind and loving spirit, Susan is, in the words of performer David Bowie, an individual "with a generosity of spirit and moral fiber that anyone should possess in any walk of life."


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