Action star Connie Nielsen leverages her reel-life role to help real-life people.
Heroine chic: Danish-born bombshell/actress Connie Nielsen, a superhero on screen and off, spends time between movies campaigning for a better life for the residents of Kibera, Kenya.
Queen Hippolyta is Wonder Woman’s mother, which obviously means when she gets together with other mothers at bingo, she has a lot to brag about. The fact that Connie Nielsen appears as the DC Comics mom in two films—Wonder Woman, which opened June 2, and Justice League, set for November 17—suggests she has this superhero motherhood thing down.
“I’m excited to play Hippolyta, who has such a great history in the comic book world,” says the Danish-born Nielsen, perhaps best known for her turn opposite Russell Crowe in Gladiator, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2000. “A lot of the myths in the story are based on real women—women hunters, women leaders.”
Nielsen knows a bit more than most about leadership. In 2010, she cofounded the Human Needs Project, a nonprofit that provides clean water, infrastructure, and empowerment services to residents of Kibera, Kenya, an impoverished neighborhood in the capital, Nairobi, and the largest urban slum in Africa. It is just one of several philanthropic endeavors for which Nielsen is passionate, and one that earned her the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award at the 2017 PTTOW Summit.
“We’re working to ensure that the human potential that exists everywhere gets a chance to express itself,” says Nielsen, proving that a super-heroic woman doesn’t always need a costume.