STORIES
Angels Heroes

Audrey Hepburn

by Ariel from San Diego

 (https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&so )
(https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&so )

Nelson Mandela once said, "A good head and a good heart make a formidable combination." Eighty four years ago, the world was gifted by the birth Audrey Kathleen Hepburn, the Belgium-born beauty and legendary actress. Brutal abandonment from her father and deathly malnutrition as a victim of World War II scarred Hepburn early on in her life but her charming spirit never dimmed. Years later, with her enchanting allure and undeniable talent, Audrey Hepburn took the entire Hollywood world by storm in a total of 31 films, including the 1961 classic, Breakfast at Tiffany's. Stacey Connelly in her biographical article on Hepburn pointed out that "by 1959, with an Academy Award, a Tony, and two more Oscar nominations, she [Audrey Hepburn] had become a toolbox-office attraction of the 1950s" and Empire Magazine named her on the list of "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time." Her stardom proved to be a significant milestone in her life, but Hepburn's negative past taught her that there would always be horrors in reality that required her attention and efforts more than any movie ever did. As a result, in 1988, Hepburn agreed to the position of goodwill ambassador of the international children's relief organization UNICEF, a job that she considered a million times more important than a leading role in any film. Unlike the celebrities of today's world, fame and commercial success never defined Hepburn's values. She always remained conscious of the suffering around the world and recognized the priority it deserved. Hepburn's integrity in addition to her humanitarian heart drove her in her unyieldingly fight to liberate children in war ridden countries from their nightmarish conditions, demonstrating to the public the difference anyone can make if they set their heart to it.


 ( http://myhero.com/images/guest/g271297/hero96435/images%20(1).jpg)
( http://myhero.com/images/guest/g271297/hero96435/images%20(1).jpg)

Hepburn's compassion for African children who lived in vile conditions motivated her to make a difference in their lives. Sean Hepburn Ferrer, Audrey's son, recalls his mother's sorrow toward the children in Somalia: "My mother connected with this little blind girl, with her loneliness, her void. It was probably emptiness and sadness she knew all too well." (Hepburn Ferrer 187) As a child, Hepburn lived six full years in Holland while the country warred with England and "never forgot what liberation felt like or the images of aid arriving to her and thousands like her in Holland." (Audrey Hepburn Official Website) She once admitted her past made her "more captive to the ravages of war" (Audrey Hepburn), so seeing the prominent ribcages of the starving African children struck a nerve with Hepburn. In Somalia, the country where Hepburn worked a few years prior to her death, she encountered many orphaned children but there was a young girl who stood out in particular: "...she [the little girl] looked at the plate, the food, and in a flash broke out of the line and rushed into Mother's [Hepburn's] arms. The need for affection, to be held in the arms of this mysterious woman, had surpassed, for that short moment, her need for survival." (Hepburn Ferrer 185) Many years ago, Hepburn had felt the same exact hopelessness and emotional and physical hunger the little girl felt presently and she burned with the urgent need to comfort the young girl and show her that kindness still existed in the world. Aware that she couldn't give that little girl every single necessity she needed, Hepburn opened her arms and gave the impoverished child what she could at that moment- love. Hepburn describes her actions as "that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second." (Speech by Audrey Hepburn) When Hepburn gave the girl the affection she craved so desperately, she pieced back a fragment of the girl's shattered life, showing that acts from the depth of the heart are the most precious gifts those with nothing will receive. All 63 years of her existence, Hepburn's catastrophic past clung to her like a shadow. However, she utilized the pain from those experiences as a tool to make connections with suffering children and attempt to alleviate them from the daily tribulation they lived under.

 (https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&so )
(https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&so )

Hepburn is a righteous woman with great integrity who possesses her own set of clear values that compel her to fight for what she believes in. Hepburn defined her values clearly so that everyone would understand where her resolve to make a change was coming from: "'Is there anything more important than a child?' she would often ask as an opening to her interviews and speeches. She wasn't just being clever; she believed that at the core of that question lay an indisputable truth." (Hepburn Ferrer 181) Hepburn fights with purpose to free children from their wretched conditions because she imperviously believes that it should be in every human's best interest that children, who are "our most vital resource, our hope for the future" (Audrey Hepburn), are protected and properly tended to before anything. The children in warzones lacked the privileges to speak for themselves, so Hepburn, having been affected by the same impacts of war in the past, felt obligated to represent them. Through the media and speeches, Hepburn persistently tried to get people to see the severe adversities children at war endured and she hindered no fear when it came to voicing her beliefs: "The time has now come for a worldwide public to cry out against this war on children, against those who use the weapons and those who supply them. If wars must be fought, then, at the very least, children should be protected from their worst effects." (Speech by Audrey Hepburn) It's clear that Hepburn considers children's safety one of her greatest concerns. Even as she lay on her death bed, just a few hours away from being consumed by colon cancer, her resolve remained the same- that each child must be given the rights to health, tenderness, happiness, and life that they were born with. Audrey Hepburn's moral values control her heart and mind; she firmly stands behind them in everything she does and never falters. 

 (https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&so)
(https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&so)

In her lifetime, Audrey Hepburn repeatedly pleaded with the public in her speeches, saying: "We can and must create a safety net for children - zones of peace and protection. We ask that periods of tranquility and special relief corridors be observed for the benefit of children ... where war and violence are still taking place."  Hepburn gathered all the painful war victim experiences she acquired from her past and channeled them into one cause that she fiercely believed in- the well-being and happiness of innocent children who struggled to cope with the frightful events that imploded their lives each day. "In 1988, Audrey accepted what she considered her greatest role as a UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador. For five years, Audrey traveled to over 20 countries witnessing innocent children struggling for survival.  She reported these conditions to world leaders, governments and the international media, detailing provocative, often gruesome details about millions of children and their families caught in the midst of natural and man made disasters." Through her charitable actions toward the indigent parts of the world she believed were equally important, Hepburn exhibited her virtuous character and selfless qualities. "Audrey always considered her work as a UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador her greatest role.  And that is the beauty of Audrey's legacy; that we have the opportunity to know and appreciate her gifts, both as an actress and devoted humanitarian." (Audrey Hepburn Official Website). Hepburn unequivocally knew that suffering children needed to be rescued from the devastating impacts war imposed upon them both emotionally and physically. That consciousness led her to embark on the most important quest of her life, the quest to save other's hearts. Her powerful will to improve the lives of suffering children and the savior role she played in their lives inspired others to look beyond their own needs and acknowledge the destitution of the ones who were walking on the edge of death. Audrey Hepburn's actions always reflected the values she knew were correct in her head, and her heart constantly compelled her to reach out to the broken. She possessed both a good mind and heart that drove her to change the world for the better, making her own mark on the world and sparking inspiration in common people to do the same. 

Works Cited

Connelly, Stacey. "Audrey Hepburn." American National Biography (2010): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

Ferrer, Sean Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit. New York: Atria, 2003. Print.

Hepburn, Audrey K. "Speech by Audrey Hepburn." UNICEF. Unicef.org, 19 Dec. 1991. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

"Life and Career." Audrey Hepburn's Official Site. Ed. Audrey Hepburn's Children Fund. Audrey Hepburn's Children Fund, 2008. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. .

 

Page created on 4/20/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/20/2013 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.