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Mira Sorvino Tackles Diabetes, Bipolar, and Human Trafficking

The actress tells WebMD about her role in the new movie, Union Square, plus her advocacy work and personal health habits.
By Julia Dahl
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Born in Tenafly, N.J., actress Mira Sorvino has won acclaim for her roles in a wide range of movies, including Barcelona, Quiz Show, Mighty Aphrodite, and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. She spoke to WebMD the Magazine about her work with the families of people with diabetes, as well as her healthy diet (it really is healthy), her three children, and her role as a woman with bipolar disorder inthe upcoming Union Square. Plus she reveals her favorite guilty-pleasure food.

You graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, won an Oscar at 28, and are now married with three kids. But you're not one to rest on your laurels. In addition to starring roles on stage and screen, you're spokesperson for Diabetes Co-Stars, which educates about the importance of family support in managing the disease. How has diabetes affected your life?

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My dad [actor Paul Sorvino] has type 2 diabetes. He got diagnosed about five years ago and for the first couple of years didn't tell any of us. And when he finally did we were really alarmed because he wasn't really taking care of himself.

We're living proof that family members and friends can make a huge difference. My dad definitely would not be doing as well as he is if we children did not help him and encourage him and make suggestions about changes to his diet. We exercise together. We've done some ballroom dancing, which brings back memories of him dancing with me at my wedding, and teaching me the box step when I was little and going to a school dance.

You work to combat child sex trafficking. What don't most people know about this dark world?

Basically, slavery is alive and well -- it's just under a different name: human trafficking. Even in America, children are being bought and sold every day by unscrupulous people to unscrupulous people who will sleep with them and keep them in slave-like conditions. The way these kids' lives are being ruined, it just kills me. So I've been on a campaign to change state's laws so that they are seen as victims of crime, not "child prostitutes" who are criminals.

In your new movie, Union Square, you play a woman with bipolar disorder. What did you learn about that disease while working on that film?

I know some bipolar people and I tried to craft the character's behavior on what I knew personally of these people. They feel the world a little bit differently -- things can hurt much more. But then also there can be these wonderful bursts of happiness and creativity and joyfulness that maybe other people don't experience. They say a lot of the great artists and writers throughout history have been bipolar.

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