Santa Monica, CA
Q’orianka is a filmmaker and actress of Peruvian ancestry who has used her celebrity to draw attention to pressing human rights and environmental injustices. Of special concern to her was Los Angeles based Occidental Petroleum, which was responsible for pumping some 800,000 barrels of toxic wastewater containing contaminants such as cyanide, arsenic, lead and mercury into the Corrientes river basin in the Peruvian Amazon. The Achuar are one of several Amazonian communities that depend on the river basin for drinking, fishing and bathing, and they have been on the frontlines of conflict for 35 years. On a trip to Peru to promote a recent film, Q’orianka directed her publicity and media attention towards the plight faced by Achuar. She invited indigenous leaders to participate in a red carpet event, toured the impacted communities and conducted interviews with affected peoples for a documentary, collaborated with U.S. based campaigners Amazon Watch, and met with employees of oil companies to request that they tour the impacted area. Her enthusiasm and unwavering efforts have been important contributions to the global campaign to push Occidental Petroleum out of this area.