Actress Eliza Dushku and screenwriter-director Joss Whedon launched a fundraising event in San Francisco on Thursday, July 26 to pitch support for ThriveGulu, a charity founded by Dushku's mom, Judy, which aids survivors of Uganda's civil war. Among the night's festivities were a musical performance by Randi Zuckerberg and an anonymous $20,000 bid to have lunch with Joss Whedon.
Shira Lazar hosted a panel with Whedon and Dushku, both of whom spoke strongly about their passion for the cause.
Whedon kicked the night off with an empowering speech about the unique and utter necessity of spreading ThriveGulu's cause.
"The most basic human need is humanity. The most basic human need is to have something to strive for, to have an identity, to be heard," Whedon said.
"This is ground zero for what I think is the most important concept…the concept that is behind all of the work that I do as a writer, which is human connection and respect. We want to show people that we respect them and we want to show ourselves that we're worthy of respect. That's what we're doing here tonight."
When asked about her experiences in Uganda, Dushku called upon an almost familial connection with the victims, referring to Rose, a 27-year-old woman who was abducted when she was nine and now stands as a powerful force in the program's Center, helping other women share their stories.
"We get well through sharing what's happened to us," Dushku said, citing social media as a vital form of connection.
After she started using Twitter, Dushku realized how many people she could truly reach and how many were willing to listen and support through cyberspace.
In terms of gaining support for ThriveGulu, she said, "We did newspaper articles and a lot of promotion but 80 percent came from people that had directly linked through my Twitter page." And now they also have the ThriveGulu website and Facebook page.
Whedon, on the other hand, has pretty much avoided the online world.
"It is a world and I'm supposed to be creating worlds, so I'm not allowed to live in either the real or virtual one," he stated profoundly.
Still, it is undeniable that there is a current convergence of two spheres in the entertainment industry as Silicon Valley and Hollywood are somewhat tumultuously crossing paths.
Whedon confirmed this collision, adding, "You can accomplish anything now and you can do it without the help of a giant conglomerate. The tech itself has changed the way we create and the way we interact and I find it dazzling."
Dushku concluded the evening with an enticing offer to support ThriveGulu and assert positive and constructive expression any way possible: "Do something powerful with us."