With “The Gray Zone” now ensconced on the New York Times Best Seller List and attaining high ranking on Amazon.com and elsewhere, it looks like Radha Mitchell may wind up playing the courageous former foster child heroine of the story in the feature film adaptation now being planned by producer Diane Nabatoff. At least, she will be if things go the way Mitchell, the Australian star of such films as “The Crazies” and “Finding Neverland,” hopes.
“She just called and said she’d like to play the lead role,” reports Daphna Edward Ziman, author of the book that’s designed to bring the sex slavery plight of some foster children into passionate public concern.
Ziman is the founder and chairwoman of Children Uniting Nations, an organization that introduces caring adults into foster children’s lives — and Mitchell is among the many famous film names who’ve come out in support of Children Uniting Nations events in the past. (Other celebs who’ve taken part include George Clooney, Seal, Jamie Foxx, Adrian Grenier, Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald and John Paul DeJoria.) Ziman tells us she’s received word of interest in the adaptation from other stars as well, and says that Nabatoff is in talks with a major studio.
Touching on the inadequacies of the foster care system and the awful situations some children have had to deal with, “The Gray Zone,” released in June, has also drawn the interest of foster families and children across the country. In a matter of days, Ziman’s Twitter account grew to more than 40,000 followers. Ziman has had calls from dozens of foster parents and former foster children — including young women who endured the nightmare of being forced into prostitution at a young age and told Ziman their stories.
Ziman, who is writing another book now, will be traveling to Washington, D.C. for the Children Uniting Nations-hosted Keeping the Promise to Our Children National Conference July 28. Attended by business and community leaders as well as lawmakers, the conference will be focusing on sex trafficking this year. A reception will follow, she reports, where Jermaine Jackson and Abraham McDonald will perform.
If there was any doubt that the issue of helping abused foster children transcends party lines, according to Ziman, “Nancy Pelosi and Michele Bachmann are cohosting the party,” which will be held in the Congressional Auditorium.
Ziman met with President Obama less than two weeks ago, “and he is having Valerie Jarrett get involved in legislation to help girls who are trafficked,” she says, referring to the Presidential Senior Adviser who is also the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. “Even though they’re juveniles, they’re looked at as criminals, when they should be looked at as victims,” she says. Such legislation has already gone through in Florida, Ziman reports, but “it needs to become national.”
She received high praise from the nation’s top man. “President Obama said that you can change the world by putting pen to paper,” recounts Ziman. “He said, ‘I’m so proud that you’ve written about our most voiceless children.’”