Pivotal People

Ep. 55: Christina Zorich--Award-Winning Documentary Producer & Director: The New Abolitionists

July 11, 2023 Season 2 Episode 55
Ep. 55: Christina Zorich--Award-Winning Documentary Producer & Director: The New Abolitionists
Pivotal People
More Info
Pivotal People
Ep. 55: Christina Zorich--Award-Winning Documentary Producer & Director: The New Abolitionists
Jul 11, 2023 Season 2 Episode 55

Send us a Text Message.

I had the privilege to discuss the documentary "The New Abolitionists" with director and producer Christina Zorich. She shared her perspective on the documentary's topic of human trafficking in Southeast Asia as well as other parts of the world. As she sheds light on the topic, she also provided encouragement on how the rest of us can  help in easy and practical ways. I know you will find her conversation as inspiring and encouraging as I did, particularly in light of how challenging this issue is.

THE NEW ABOLITIONISTS, was directed by Christina Zorich and produced by Zorich, Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis, and Susannah Julien Barnes, and features the participation of Olympia Dukakis, Christina Zorich, Eng Veng, Annie Dieselberg, Daniel Vaupel, and Andrea Aasen. 

Three NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations) are featured in the documentary. These organizations are nobly dedicating their lives to battling human sex trafficking with inspiring results everyday.

Film Festival awards include Los Angeles Film Awards (2020) LAFA August Award, Best Inspirational Film; Bridge Fest, Vancouver (2020) Grand Prize, Best Documentary; Hollywood Verge Film Awards (2020) Winter Award, Best Documentary Feature; Manhattan Film Festival (2021) Film Heals Award, Documentary Feature.  

THE NEW ABOLITIONISTS is a must-watch film for all who desire to learn more about this devastating crime and those who are bravely fighting against it.

You can find more information and links to watch the film here:
Find more in Instagram:

Order Stephanie's new book Imagine More: Do What You Love, Discover Your Potential

Learn more at StephanieNelson.com
Follow us on Instagram @stephanie_nelson_cm
Follow us on Facebook at CouponMom

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

I had the privilege to discuss the documentary "The New Abolitionists" with director and producer Christina Zorich. She shared her perspective on the documentary's topic of human trafficking in Southeast Asia as well as other parts of the world. As she sheds light on the topic, she also provided encouragement on how the rest of us can  help in easy and practical ways. I know you will find her conversation as inspiring and encouraging as I did, particularly in light of how challenging this issue is.

THE NEW ABOLITIONISTS, was directed by Christina Zorich and produced by Zorich, Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis, and Susannah Julien Barnes, and features the participation of Olympia Dukakis, Christina Zorich, Eng Veng, Annie Dieselberg, Daniel Vaupel, and Andrea Aasen. 

Three NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations) are featured in the documentary. These organizations are nobly dedicating their lives to battling human sex trafficking with inspiring results everyday.

Film Festival awards include Los Angeles Film Awards (2020) LAFA August Award, Best Inspirational Film; Bridge Fest, Vancouver (2020) Grand Prize, Best Documentary; Hollywood Verge Film Awards (2020) Winter Award, Best Documentary Feature; Manhattan Film Festival (2021) Film Heals Award, Documentary Feature.  

THE NEW ABOLITIONISTS is a must-watch film for all who desire to learn more about this devastating crime and those who are bravely fighting against it.

You can find more information and links to watch the film here:
Find more in Instagram:

Order Stephanie's new book Imagine More: Do What You Love, Discover Your Potential

Learn more at StephanieNelson.com
Follow us on Instagram @stephanie_nelson_cm
Follow us on Facebook at CouponMom

Stephanie Nelson, Host (00:00):

I would like to welcome Christina Zorich to the Pivotal People Podcast. And I'll tell you, this is a really special one. She has produced an amazing documentary about human trafficking in Southeast Asia. That's a pretty heavy topic. I know according to the State Department, there is about 27.6 million people currently trapped in either forced labor or sexual exploitation. And so she produced a few years ago this multi-award winning documentary called The New Abolitionist, which uncovers this whole awful world of traffic in in Southeast Asia. Lemme tell you, for me personally, this is a pretty upsetting topic. This is such a big, huge topic. I'm sitting in Atlanta, Georgia with my regular life, and I'm not quite sure what I can do about that. And I always say, whenever an issue becomes a person, it stops being an issue and it becomes a person who, okay, maybe I can do a little something.


So you can get Christina's documentary on Amazon Prime. I recommend it. It's actually won over 40 awards at film festivals around the country. And I watched it. It's an hour and a half. And for me, it is so personal. They interview people who are experiencing this. They show us the Christian organizations who are over there trying to make a difference. And it's the first time I have felt like, wait a minute, maybe there's a little something I could do. So Christina, welcome. Thank you for making this documentary. I would love for you to share just who you are and how this started, and tell us a little bit about your journey.

Christina Zorich, Guest (01:39):

Yeah. Okay. Well, thank you for having me. Every interview is an opportunity to me. You know, I take it as a God moment to share this subject matter and to educate, raise awareness, and hopefully activate our audience to understand better, to figure out what their, what part, as Andrea Asin says in the film, what part they're supposed to play in this w around this issue. And I think it's very individual. Everyone has their own part to play. Some people are gonna do what I did, spend seven years of their life dedicated to making a documentary about this. And some people aren't gonna do that. They're gonna become educated in their community, maybe get involved with an anti-trafficking organization, talk to their neighbors about it, because it's happening now in the States. And it's actually a problem here now, which I at that, at the point when I made the film, I, I was in denial about that.


And that's, and I'll get into that in a second with the story. But, you know, to be able to speak in an educated fashion to, we all have our own kind of realm of influence, right? With our kind of the, the, the, the resources that we have at our fingertips that God's given us, right? And, you know, we're unlimited, but we're limited by those things. But within our communities, we can work to educate. And I think this is also, to me, what I felt when I made the film, when it first decided to do it, and I feel it even more now. This is luckily one of those issues that is bipartisan. It's not partisan. I have not met one person on either side of the aisle that believes this is anything but something that needs to be eradicated on many different levels. So in this atmosphere we're in, it is one thing where we can join together and link arms spiritually or just metaphorically and be about changing this.


So basically I'll start, I'll, this is my origin story. I did the festival circuit and did a bunch of interviews, and now I've done it with the release. So I try to be as reduced as I can. So I, I pray the audience forgive me that, you know, I not get too, this is a privilege for us. Yeah, thank, but I, but I wanted to, I don't want the audience to be overwhelmed. Basically, I met an anti trafficker in 2012 at a party in the Hollywood Hills. I'm an actress. I had started to teach acting, and I had a student who was having a Christmas party, and I went, I was teaching out of a studio here in Hollywood, and I had produced little things here and there, but I didn't see my, I wanted to be a director. I remember talking to an ex-boyfriend about it 10 years before, and I just didn't have the time or the energy, or I, I didn't have money to go back to school.


So anyway, I had forgotten about that thought, you know? And so I met this anti trafficker, her name was Erica Greve. She had started an ngo o which means non-government organization called Unlikely Heroes. Well, this is what had happened. She had been a nurse in the California hospital system, and women and children that, young women and children who had been trafficked came into the hospital. And what she had discovered is, and this is back in 2012, and this is California, mind you now let's, crazy to me is that didn't really register to me, that didn't really register at the time what that really, really meant about what's happening here in the States. She realized very quickly that at that time there was no kind of social services or a, a structural understanding of how medically to handle this level of trauma, because it's beyond, you know, what is kind of, most of our livable levels of trauma.


And, you know, everyone has different degrees of trauma in their upbringing or experiences. So she decided to branch off and start this N G O. And she told me a horror story, which I'll share with you. She had been in the Philippines, and I probably shouldn't, I'm, I'm, it's almost like out of the bag, but here we go. And she had been speaking to some officials, she didn't tell me who, and they had given her a written edict to go into an underground. And they gave them some guards who came in with them, armed guards who went with them. She said she was able to rescue, I think 10, and I don't remember the exact figure cuz it was so long ago. 10 10 to 14 year old girls. She said to me, Christina, I wanted to take more, but some of them were too broken.


I couldn't get them out. Mm-Hmm. And then she said to me something that at the time, I, I couldn't process. She goes, you know, they knew. They knew. And of course, years later, I, I pieced it together because if they could have given her this edit, this edict and take arm guards in, that means they knew where this place is. Why did she need to rescue the kids out of there if they knew that it was there? Why are they allowing you to be there? That's the question. Yeah. So you see what I'm getting at here? Yeah. It's, so, anyway, I could go off on, you know, so that was the beginning of my journey. I turned to her and I said, oh my gosh. My brother had daughters at the time around that age. And it just, God smacked me. Time kind of stood still, and I just felt like I had to do something.


And I said, I can, I didn't think of myself as a director. I said, I can send to you set up meetings with cinematographers directors who can create, you know, fundraising materials, follow you, film you to help raise money for these homes that needed to be staffed and trained. And people need to be paid. Who would be on the payroll to be able to, you know, help rehabilitate these, these women and children. So I set those meetings up, she went on them, and afterwards she came to me. She goes, Christina, everybody has to be paid, but all the money that we raise has to go to the women and the children. And I said, of course, of course. I understood. You know, they're reasonable people. They wanna get paid. At that point, I didn't think of myself as a filmmaker, but I thought, what a great idea to make a documentary about this.


But somebody would have to do it as an act of service. And so she and I met a few times after that. I didn't think of myself as that person. I, I, I, she, she and I were like, well, I feel like we're supposed to do something together. I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. And nothing happened. Got to, a few years later, I sold some property in New York. I was sitting on this, this chunk of change, which is more than I had ever had in my whole life. And I wanted to self-produce something. I came up with a play my mom and I were gonna do together. And your mom is, we haven't talked about that. The Olympia Dukakis. Yeah. She was gonna direct it and I was gonna star in it. And we had an LA producer and I was, we were gonna fund it together.


And, and I was with a prayer partner cuz at this, you know, I've been, I've got saved in my thir at the age of 30 in a Pentecostal church in Harlem. So I've been saved for a while. And one of my prayer partners who actually helped me receive the gift of tongues and I were on the, on the phone together and she was praying with me and she just kept saying, I don't think you're supposed to do this plan. And I was like, what? What do you mean I'm not supposed to do this play so bad? And she's like, no, no. Remember how you were so passionate about human sex trafficking? I was like, yeah. She's like, I think that might be something you should look into. Cuz I was, you know, I spent a significant amount of time figuring out what to do with this cash that I was sitting on.


I had always been like, looking for the next job. Actors are very hungry for the next job cuz you have to always be searching for that next job. And I was in that state of like, I gotta get in a mixed, I gotta get, you know, even though I was teaching. But I, but my point is, is that's the way I functioned most of my adult life. So being able to decide and self-produce was new for me, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I'll cut to a, it just was a, a series of events where we kind of you know, she, we would pray over it and she would say, I'm really getting, you need to go to this church. Somebody who's involved in anti-trafficking. And then she, she really had a, a prophetic gifting. God was really using her powerfully cuz he used her in my life.


And I hope I've been the same for her to kind of align me with the people who I, a lot of them who I ended up featuring in the film. Oh. And it really laid out like that. It was all God, it was all Holy Spirit directing it. I couldn't have made it out any other way. Oh, I wasn't smart enough to do that, nor was I savvy enough or educated on the subject matter enough. So it was all God. So one of the pivotal moments is I went to a conference at Angeles Temple in Los Angeles, which was Amy Simple, McPherson's old church, and Patricia King and Heidi Baker, Katie Souza, Joan Hunter, all these female pastors well-known were speaking at this conference. And Patricia King showed a video of trafficked children because she has a heart for anti-trafficking work. And d was involved in that work over in Southeast Asia.


And then that broke my heart and I decided to go on a mission. I looked it up on her site and I decided to go on a mission on a missions trip with her ministry. And that was a trip in 2015. That was like the charter trip. I thought I prepared for it to be the shoot. I came back and realized I didn't have a movie that I needed to just because I'm not a techie. I had to kind of teach myself that stuff to do this. So then I went back in 2016 and shot it. And, but between that 2015 and 16, my producer and I, we had to cur favor with different ministries. We reached out to other ministries that we had heard of through the, like, just through various resources because, you know, each anti-trafficking groups kind of specializes in different things.


Some do undercover work, they all handle it the same way. They all kind of structurally do similar things. Rescue, rehabilitation, prevention and prosecution. But some of them kind of favor different aspects of that. Like, there's one anti-trafficking group that basically just deals with the legal system, right? We fought hard to get them and we didn't. So that's kind of what happened. And then in 2016, I shot and basically I had to teach myself how to do all of this. I, wow. Yeah. I mean, I, I I apprenticed under two documentary a cinematographer and a filmmaker. I don't know if you know Darren Wilson. He did Holy Ghost. God, he was really, he was very popular at the time. He did an online course that was very helpful. So yeah, that's how, that's how it all worked out.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (12:17):

So you clearly, what I'm hearing is, okay, it broke your heart. Our pastor always says, you know what breaks your heart? Okay, so something breaks your heart. That's actually more powerful than knowing all the technical stuff and producing a movie. If you knew all the technical stuff and you hadn't gone on that mission trip where you saw it, like I said, where the issue becomes a person, then that gave you all of this boundless energy to tackle, you know, a seemingly impossible task of making a movie on your own when you never had. And what I love is that it went on to win 40 awards.

Christina Zorich, Guest (12:53):

I mean, mean, that's amazing. Well, it's interesting, this other, this other documentarian, right? When I was thinking of it, when it was really getting cemented that this is what I was gonna do, I said to him, I'm thinking and making a documentary. He's like, oh no, you can't do that. This is hard. And you don't understand what it involves. And and the minute I remember that was, that was, that was helpful. God used <laugh>. Cause I don't like being told what I can and can't do. I, I think at my very core, I have such a faith that anything's possible with God in such a profound way that especially if a man tells me that <laugh>, I get like, Hmm, no, don't tell me that. Don't tell me that. You know, you know, I, it's, it's an unconscious thing, you know, I just get,

Stephanie Nelson, Host (13:40):

I know I love that

Christina Zorich, Guest (13:41):

Bible thing. We'll, we'll see what I can do. We'll see what God will do through my life. We'll see, we'll see. I

Stephanie Nelson, Host (13:45):

Think some of the most amazing things have been produced by men telling women they can't do it. So, I don't know. I, I had this, I'm writing, I have a book coming out and I have a whole chapter about a man who told me I couldn't do something.

Christina Zorich, Guest (13:56):

Exactly. Best thing ever

Stephanie Nelson, Host (13:58):

Happened. Yeah. Yeah.

Christina Zorich, Guest (13:59):

He lets, he lets he knows what he knows what's going to get us. Err. You know what I <laugh>


I had a great father who said something to me when we were, we, we would act together. He pr like wonderful, kind of very evolved. He was, you know, but he said to me, you learn by doing Christina, you don't have to get a formal education and everything to action. I mean, of course you have to almost like apprentice at it or, you know, there's a but you learn by doing. And that like, you know, when I started making it, I was like, wow. Certain things that had been said to me along the way came back to me and goes, yeah, of course that or this or that, you know, this is possible or that, but wait a minute, I just, cuz it's outside the system or it's out of the box and, you know, it doesn't mean that it can't be done because, you know, there's an example of this or that or that where they did it. So that very much helped.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (14:52):

And you know what I really appreciate what you said was that you learned how to do these things you didn't know how to do. You kind of bootstrapped the whole thing in that sense, in that sense. You said, okay, I'm gonna take this course, I'm gonna learn how to do this. People can give themselves permission to Yes. Learn something. You know, and even if you ended up hiring someone who did that, you're gonna know a whole lot more about who to hire. Yeah. When you know how to do the thing

Christina Zorich, Guest (15:17):

And you learn, you know, and every person I worked with, I learned something from, you know. Yeah. Even if it was an awful lesson, I learned something. Right. So you, the thing that I loved about making the film that I didn't have as an actress or teacher is that because I was doing it more in the fly, on the fly, in a way, I feel like there was a humility and a dependence I needed on the Holy Spirit and God. And because of that, cuz I had actually no ego attached to proving I'm this kind of a director. I didn't have an agenda. I'm not using this as a project as my Carlin card to prove I'm a director. That's not why I made the movie. So I made the movie reluctantly <laugh>, you know what I'm saying? Like, yeah, I wanted to make a short, and my prayer port partner kept saying, no, it's a feature.


I was like, oh, if I didn't know she <laugh>, you know, so I mean, I got confirmations from her. It wasn't like I was the slave to everything. She said, cuz we're not supposed to do that. Right. We're supposed to get confirmations and seek it to make sure that it bounces off of our sense of holy, you know, the Holy Ghost that we have within us saying yes. So I got confirmations, but she would say stuff all the time. That was like, not an idea I had. And I would have to like, okay. And that's why I love being in rooms with people who don't agree with me. I don't know why. And this makes me sad about our culture. We've gotten to a point where we, we only even my editor, we worked together for so long, we would watch footage and he, we write down how to, you know, what the cuts were.


We never <laugh>. Agreed. Never. And so what we would do is we tried his way and then we tried my way. Sometimes we ended up doing, because, you know, there's an expression in the industry, the best idea in the room wins. So, you know, when you try something, which is kind of the superior version of it, the, the, the one that's either at the most moving, you know, not in my film, but the most funny or the most smart or innovative or interesting or different or, so I always felt like I chose somebody who I had to tolerate that we didn't agree. And I had to, I had to tolerate that that was what our experience was gonna be. And it was great for the film because we never, we were always, sometimes we would, you know, the edit that scene would end up being a kind of cyborg baby of what the two of us came up with. You know, it, but it, but we were never just in a echo chamber listening to ourselves. You know, we were always challenging ourselves with each other. And I, I really think that's important as human beings, right? Iron sh sharpens iron. We need to have, you know, within reason you don't wanna be negotiating with like, I'm not, I'm not suggesting that we're <laugh>, right. Sit at a table negotiating with a serial killer about what we should eat. I mean, you know what I mean? I'm saying within reason, but Yeah.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (18:17):

What I hear you saying, which is so inspiring, is that the greater good of producing the film was more important than neither one of your egos.

Christina Zorich, Guest (18:25):


Stephanie Nelson, Host (18:25):

And if across the board, we could all approach our projects or our politics or our relationships in that way, our, our families, our marriages, the greater good is more important than who's right or who's wrong. And you know, I'm sure you learn things from his ideas. He learned things from your ideas. And that's the beauty of collaboration. And generally when we say collaboration, we're thinking of collaborating with someone who's easy to collaborate with. We're thinking of someone who's,

Christina Zorich, Guest (18:51):

That's not collaboration thing

Stephanie Nelson, Host (18:53):

Is we're gonna learn more, we're gonna do better if we collaborate with, if we're willing to collaborate with people who might not agree with us. So, oh, I love all this. And, and you have so many interesting examples in this film. So my goal of this podcast is two, one is I want people to watch your film because I wouldn't have really understood what I understand now if I hadn't watched your film. And then number two is I want everyone to think about after they watched it in the context of that what small thing we could each do in our worlds to make a difference. You know, mother Teresa said, you know, maybe we can't change the whole world, but you could change one person's world. You know, let's, let's look at it that way. One of the things that hit me in your film, and I'm just gonna say this, just not a spoiler alert, but you had interviews with women who had been rescued from trafficking in Southeast Asia.


And what really hit me was the woman you were interviewing who actually described, can any of us imagine what a day in the life of a person in trafficking is? I think I can, but until I heard her interview, I had no idea. So just, all I'll say is this. She talked about, you know, it's a seven day a week job and she's not in charge of her schedule. And by noon in the course of a day, she will have already had, will just call them 20 customers. And the woman's body was in complete pain all the time because of that.

Christina Zorich, Guest (20:22):

Yeah. She was tortured. Yeah.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (20:24):

And that was only,

Christina Zorich, Guest (20:25):

And they're drugged and abused physically that only against their day.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (20:29):

Yeah. That was only it's against. And she was crying and you, you could look at her and say, here is a sweet woman. How did her life, how did she get stuck in this? And the truth is, she's stuck in that. So I only say that because that's when the, it stopped being an issue to me, Christina. That's when I thought, oh my gosh, okay, this is a woman who could be my neighbor. This is a woman who could be my friend and she's stuck over there and maybe I can't save her life. And then your NGOs, non-government organizations sounds big, but it's really a handful of loving people who are walking

Christina Zorich, Guest (21:03):

The streets, idealistic,

Stephanie Nelson, Host (21:05):

Walking into the slums, talking to these people individually. So that's, I just wanna put some color on this. That's what we're talking about. This, this film is personal, it is stories and it actually ends. I left with a feeling of hope. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, not discouragement. I had a feeling of hope. And you know why Christina? Because it is so well produced and that is why you got so many awards. That is Well, thank

Christina Zorich, Guest (21:29):

You. Well, praise God.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (21:31):

Yeah. You know, what is the Colossians verse? Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart. As if working for God not for men. That's my favorite part. <Laugh>. So that's clearly what you've been doing. So tell us more about it. Okay. I didn't mean to interrupt.

Christina Zorich, Guest (21:46):

No, I want you to interrupt because I, you know, I've clearly stated I like that I like having other people's opinions and listening and I really hope we return to sanity in this area. But what, in terms of what people can do, number one, get educated. So watch the film. She, as you know, you mentioned so beautifully, it's on Amazon, apple tv, it's gonna be in stores, I think at the, I I think it's already in stores. I believe it's in. Where are the stores? Amazon.Com, bests buy.com, Barnes and noble.com. Walmart.Com. The platforms it's on outside of the two I just mentioned. A T T U-verse, DirecTV, dish Network, s Slang TV and Demand, slang, hoopla, Google Play, Xbox, YouTube, movies. It's on a bunch of platforms. And so I would suggest people buy it. And I, I like this movie on streaming also, because I think because of the heavy subject matter, it's okay to pause and go away and come back.


There's a lot of programming. I do that with all the time. Sure. And I, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Right. Because you, you know, we need, sometimes we get full up and we need a break and you come back. That's the way I made the movie. There's no other way to, to get educated about the subject matter and not honor that need in ourselves. Sometimes we need it. So I would do that. Go please go to our website, www b new abolitionists s at the end of that word. And then d o c afterwards, you know, a small, an acronym for documentary.com. There's a what can I do page. And all the organizations we've met along the way, the ones that are featured in the film are, are listed on that page. The inter the National Hotline for Trafficking Polaris Project is a great organization that kind of gives an overview of labor trafficking and sex trafficking in the states.


How it presents itself. It, I think takes the numbers from the hotline and kind of uses that data to present information for us. So I would suggest people do what I did with my film. And I, you know, people are like, I care, what do I do? What I would say, and this is maybe an unpopular way to look at my, my walk with God or just who I am as a person. If I don't know what to do, I sit on something, I pray about it and I sit on it. Because when I know what to do, I know, and I know we can get excited and wanna do something, but I prayed about it, prayed into it with prayer partners. I really made sure I was, because I was gonna spend my own money on this. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was, that this was what I was supposed to be doing, and that God wanted me to do this thing.


Mm. You know, so I, I really encourage people to go through that process with this issue. And you don't even have to go through that process in a hard way. You just have to want, just put it on the prayer list. What do I do with this? What do I do with this? Right. Right. But in the process, get educated. Right. One of the biggest things that happened that made a huge difference in my understanding of what this issue is because, you know, as I said, I had to fight through my own level of denial and ignorance around this issue. When we were doing the film festival circuit for the film, a lot of it was online cuz of Covid. But then we went to a few live festivals. Well, one of the wonderful smart festival directors, Heather Waters at the Richmond Film Festival decided at the screening of our film at the Talk Back, which you know, is traditional with screenings.


Afterwards, there's a talk back with people from the film. She brought in two anti-trafficking, women activists from, from Richmond. One of them ran a home for rescued women and children in Richmond. And they other one worked with the cops. Right after the screening, the first question we get from a man in the audience is, how can these people do this to their children? So I go on this big discussion about the movie. I was a little frustrated because the whole film answers that question. So I was like, okay, I'll explain. You know, and then I just turned to this woman. Her name was Mary. I have her card right in front of me. The name of the place she works at is Safe Harbor. She's the development director. Her name was Mary Mopa. I can't, I'm pronouncing it a little off. But anyway, she goes, oh, what's happening in that film that you just saw?


It's happening here in the States and it looks almost identical. Wow. I have a home a few miles away with women and children who have similar stories to the women on the screen that the place got very quiet. This was in 2021. Mm. I freaked out internally. I was like, what, what? Okay. Cut to at that festival, I met this A P B S producer, Craig Martin, who he and his partner are hosts on a pbs series called The Good Road. It's, it's been nominated for a few Emmys. And he and I met at the festival and he asked me to host a doc. At the time it was gonna be a doc series about trafficking in the States. It's become a doc feature. So cut to a few a year later, I believe maybe it was that winter, January 20, maybe it was 2022, I can't remember.


It was sometime around then. I went to a place called Re Hope. It, it's like a restoration house for women and children right outside of Kansas, Missouri. And I interviewed 11 people. I interviewed intelligence officers, state troopers, a woman who worked with the Attorney General of Missouri in the anti-trafficking department. Three traffick victims, a man who does activist work. He goes and educates high school students all over the country. All by the way, all the organizations that were associated with the people I interviewed are on that page I told you to go to mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So you can, you know, get educated there. But what I found out was horrific. I interviewed a victim who was trafficked out of her mother's basement in Kansas and was basically supporting the family out of that basement. Her mother, her body started falling apart. She, her mother dumped her at a hospital at the age of 18. She ended up in the foster care system, was abused there, and then basically got a job or got a car, ended up escaping or running away with her car, ran outta money and in Montana and stopped at a gas station. Asked two guys working in a gas station in Montana to help her. She ended up being trafficked out of the room above the gas station. Oh my gosh. She said there were girls from all over the world there. She eventually escaped, but she had to dig a chip out of her arm.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (28:23):

Oh my gosh. And this is in our country. Okay. So

Christina Zorich, Guest (28:26):

Do you see what I'm trying to say? This is something, this was new information for me. I did not understand it. Interviewing the intelligence officers was very, you know, I was, they basically said, I really struggle with saying some of this stuff because this information is intense and it's very easy to get volatile in response to it and fearful and scared and to then have a big reaction. I was telling an ex-boyfriend about this, and he was like, don't tell me anymore. I'll get like my, you know, yeah. He has a lot of guns. He's like, I don't wanna hear. I said, no, you, this is, this is not the reaction to have, you know what I'm saying? Because that's the problem right now is we are not processing this on every stratum of society in a way that's rational and also really actionable. Mm-Hmm.


<affirmative>, we're getting into our emotional reaction. We're going off on social media, but we're not actually within our realm of scope of influence, really taking action that can make a difference. Do you know what I'm saying? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. So one of this intelligence officers, an ex he worked in the government, said a lot of international cartels are working with the local gangs in our country. So, you know, he mentioned Russian mob, Chinese mob, Mexican mob, some of the other Eastern European mobs. But, you know, that's really, it's, it, it's an international criminal business. It's up there with drugs and weapons. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> trafficking, you know, children. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> labor trafficking is also a part of it. And I think it's a really important to understand because, you know, trafficking, trafficking, people say it, it's people doing things against their will, children against their will.


That's why it's called trafficking. You know, especially sometimes I showed the film to, to some American men and they're like, oh, that movie you made about prostitution? I said, no, no, it's not. Yeah. Right. Yeah, exactly. One of the things that you learn in the film is that most prostitutes have been trafficked. That's how it started. Either by a family member or by a friend, or by a neighborhood person, or they were bamboozled in some scheme. But this is being done against the will. That's why children are so rife for as a, as a as spotter, because they're innocent. They don't have resources if they are, you know, don't have the protection or the good wishes of a healthy family. Or they're in traumatized regions where there's been war or you know, some kind of event. Or they come from poverty or country where there's no social network.


I mean, in one city we went to, in Southeast Asia, we followed a, a social worker. And he was the only social worker in the whole town. This, it's not a town, it was a city. Wow. And he worked for the organization. So we have to remember this countries don't have the social systems we have. Mm-Hmm. We don't have the, you know, the, the governmental or state, you know, national safety net that we have in this country. They don't have the education, they don't have the resources. You know, they've probably dealt with abuse in the family line, sexual, they've dealt, there's probably addiction or maybe somebody got sick in the family and the whole family went into emergency. So we have to start looking at the push factors as Annie Dilberg says in the film that lead to this. Yeah. I mean, I'm, I'm trying to give an overview of the problem for the audience. I just, I really encourage people to get educated about this and then just to be prayerful about what your part is that you're gonna play.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (32:15):

Well, one of the things you said was, you know, you referred to the woman in Richmond who had, you know, here in the United States, she has rehabilitation effort for women. She was able to get out of trafficking. And I think we probably all have those people in our communities. I can think of one now. We can get in touch locally. I'll tell you what I did. This is just one step and I wanna do more. But when I went to Amazon Prime to watch your documentary, I had a choice. I could rent it or I could buy it. I could, if I rented it, I had like a, you know, a couple days to watch it. But if I bought it, then I have an opportunity to invite friends over,

Christina Zorich, Guest (32:50):

Show it to other

Stephanie Nelson, Host (32:51):

People, and show it as a group and talk about it. Many of us are in book clubs or we're in Bible studies, or we're in small groups of women. And I think this is a great opportunity just to share this with our friends and then to pray together about it, to see what we could do. And whenever you have a mixed group of people, you have people with different skill sets and you're gonna have new ideas. And I really, that's what I wanna do. Not so much to spread the idea to all the other people, but to keep me active in the path of trying to do something about it. I think if we have a group, if we're with friends or family and we're all aware of it, then we can, as you said, you know, encourage each other to do something, even if it's small. So that we're not just reactionary, but we're doing

Christina Zorich, Guest (33:39):

Something. You can sponsor a family, you can go on that on our website, go to the groups that are featured, other groups, research. You can sponsor a family, a child with an education, a feeding program. You can go on one of these mission trips if you're, you can offer your gifts and talents to these groups because sometimes they, a lot of them need vocational training for these young women and children. One guy started a business and to make sure that these kids could learn a skill and get it. Because, you know, one of the, the hardest issues they bump up against is it's sometimes if these kids are a part of like a really broken family system and they're being pushed into this against their will, it all comes back to money. The money, the money, you know, getting money. So if you provide a, another vocational skill for them to be able to help, you know, care for the family, then even though it's wrong, that they should have to be support, you know, according to our heart and mind.


It's not correct that the, that the child supporting the family, but it, because that's the reality that family, you know, honor that and help them be skilled at what they do and providing livable wages of course. So that it's not like, you know, exploitative in itself. But, so, and then there's also, it just really offering, well I said offering your services. I think it's what I did with the movie is kind of out the box. Not everybody would come to that conclusion that they should make a movie about it. But listen, if this is, this is how much I believe that he's, he can do it for us. If I can make a movie from scratch soup to nuts in my living room in Los Angeles and we could end up being talk, he can certainly take care if a group of women get together and pray for each other and help each woman get to the bottom of what they can do, oh, he is more than able.


That's the other part of this thing that's so beautiful. I was so inspired and moved at these survivors cuz they don't really think of themselves as victims. All the, some of them do, but most of them just think they're survive. You know, to see how they have gone through such a hellish life experience and have worked towards their own healing and tried to piece together their own lives of, you know, a meaning and, and just, just start over again. It's so inspiring. It makes you feel like if they can do this, what can't we all do? Like, wow. It, you know, it really does. It did do that for me. Like, gosh, if these poor people who come from third world countries who are given no resources can get to a place where I'm learning from them, I'm inspired by them. You know? And of course that also means groups like the anti-trafficking groups that are generous and kind and dedicated and who are selfless in their purpose. So, you know, it's not one, it can't happen with just one aspect. It's all the different Right. Kind of points of view and people in those different positions of points of view that are helping solve the problem.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (36:56):

And that's what I loved about your movie, is that you showed us each of those groups and we got to know those groups and we got to, oh, that's a day in the life of a group of women who were trying to make a dent in sex trafficking in Southeast Asia. Wow. I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to sit and listen to you share this. You have just absolutely made my day. I feel like I'm gonna cry. And I know the people who are listening to this feel the same way. I thank you so much for producing this movie on this side of heaven. You're never gonna know how many lives you've impacted, but someday you will. And I think you'll just be blown away. And I thank you so much for doing that.

Christina Zorich, Guest (37:34):

Well, Randy Clark made a comment in one of his sermons. I was listening to her speeches, you know, he's a, he's a pastor. He said, God, can I just be an, I don't know, he called it a nickel in your pocket or a penny in your pocket. Use me. And at first I was like, oh, that's, and then I actually found a bible verse that references it <laugh>. Oh. So yeah. I, you know, you go, listen, I, I we're all just like pennies in his pocket. Right? Yeah. If we can get used by him, it's, it's a blessing. 

Stephanie Nelson, Host (38:03):

I wish you the best of luck in where this goes. It'll be fun to watch your journey too. For anyone listening, we're gonna have all of the links to Christina's resources in our show notes and we'll make sure that everyone can get to not only your movie, but all the educational resources and the information about the organizations that are making a difference. So thank you

Christina Zorich, Guest (38:23):

So much. Please have people, please have people check out our social media cuz I'm really trying to make the Instagram and Facebook for the film kind of a resource center for different, and then if they like the movie, please have them rate and review it on whatever platform. Yes. Cuz it, it, you know, encourages other people that

Stephanie Nelson, Host (38:44):

Well tell us quickly. So for people who aren't gonna go to a website, where can they find you on Instagram?

Christina Zorich, Guest (38:50):

At the new abolitionists, it's the name. The

Stephanie Nelson, Host (38:53):

New abolitionist is the name of the movie. So the new abolitionist, if you need to Google it, you'll find her. So the new

Christina Zorich, Guest (38:59):

Abolitionist app? Yeah, the same at Facebook. At the new abolitionist and Twitter. We're on, at na abolitionist singular. Okay. So we're on all three platforms. Yeah.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (39:11):

Okay. All right. Thank you so much and I wish you the best. It's been wonderful talking to you.

Christina Zorich, Guest (39:16):

God bless you.

Stephanie Nelson, Host (39:17):

You too.