AP Talks - Sonia Nassery Cole

In Conversation With Sonia Nassery Cole

The Oscar nominated Activist, director and producer discusses her extraordinary story including her plight for human rights, female empowerment and her muses.

After escaping to the U.S. during the Soviet invasion, Sonia wrote a letter to President Reagan, he in turn invited her to the Oval Office to discuss the conflicts in Afghanistan. Serving on the Board of the Afghanistan Relief Committee formed by past U.S. Ambassadors to Afghanistan, Sonia's human rights activism began. Ms. Cole was asked to assemble a major fundraising event where she obtained the backing of then Vice President George H.W. Bush, who served as an Honorary Chairman of her first fundraising event, A Night for Afghanistan. Not long afterward Sonia was recognized with a Peace Medal at the United Nations. She is the recipient of a ‘Congressional Recognition’ award 2006, ‘Afghan American Sisterhood Award’, and the ‘UN Women Together Award’ 2012. In 2013, she also received the ‘Freedom to Write Award’ from PEN Center USA.

In 2011 Sonia completed her movie ‘Black Tulip’, serving as director, producer and writer. Based on true events, ‘Black Tulip’ is a journey of tragedy, struggle and hope that encompasses the current plight of the Afghan people. After the film was made Sonia relived her struggles of producing this film by writing the book ‘Will I Live Tomorrow’ the journey of making a film in the middle of war zone Afghanistan against the Taliban. "Black Tulip" was the official Afghan submission to the 2011 Academy Awards. The film has garnered numerous accolades since, receiving top honors at over 11 film festivals. The well-received "Black Tulip" was featured on CBS, NBC, ABC, the New York Times, Reuters, Voice of America and many more. Following the USA’s 9/11 Tragedy and the international US-led coalition response, Sonia realised the need to give voice to the voiceless people of Afghanistan. Forming the Afghanistan World Foundation in May 2002, she raised significant funds to aid the building of hospitals and schools in Afghanistan.

Images of what Afghanistan used to be like in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Liberated, fashion forward woman working side by side equally with men

Liberated women in Afghanistan in the 1960s

After the invasion of the Taliban, the country went back a couple of hundred years

Fashion forward women in Afghanistan working side by side with men