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New Activist: Ronan Farrow

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Blessed with his mother’s ethereal blondness and his father’s sense of humor, the only biological offspring of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen also seems to have gotten a double dose of their smarts. A college graduate at just 15 years old (Bard College ’04, double major in philosophy and biology), Ronan Farrow is now, at barely 21, a veteran political activist on the verge of graduating from Yale Law School. He started out working for former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, then for UNICEF and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, concentrating his efforts on Africa issues—genocide, drought, hunger, disease, injustice. He’s served in such danger zones as Angola, Liberia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria, and testified before Congress about Africa almost as frequently as he’s written about the region in the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal. Along with his mother, Ronan pronounced the games in Beijing “the genocide Olympics”—because of China’s financial ties to Sudan—and may have helped persuade Steven Spielberg to opt out of consulting on the opening and closing ceremonies. This past summer, he headed off to the slums of Nairobi to be a visiting scientist for the Centers for Disease Control. Visiting scientist? “Okay, so I secretly did it all for the job title,” Farrow says. While he finishes law school, he’s working on his first book, a look at America’s use of proxy armies (“a comedy, of course”). As for the future, he’ll continue to work to honor the many refugees he has encountered, among them his own adoptive siblings. “I have,” he says, “promises to keep.”


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