V-Day's 10th anniversary draws stars to New Orleans (USA TODAY)
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By Donna Freydkin, USA TODAY
Since giving birth to daughter Paloma Valentina last September, Salma Hayek has refueled her inner activist.
"My little baby is the best thing that has happened to me in my life. I've got to think about her future and get out of the now. I want all the babies of all the other women to have some of the opportunities and love and peace that my baby is being able to enjoy," says Hayek, with her daughter cooing in the background in Los Angeles. "I know how much women suffer, and I don't want her to. I want to give to other women."
She's doing just that by taking part in the 10th anniversary of V-Day in New Orleans, a two-day event called V to the Tenth. The V-Day movement, started by The Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler, aims to stop violence against women and girls. And the Big Easy extravaganza, taking place Friday and Saturday, is attracting some big names to the cause: Oprah Winfrey, Faith Hill, Jane Fonda, Jennifer Hudson, Marisa Tomei, Jessica Alba and Hayek.
The first to sign on? Fonda, a V-Day board member.
"It has been 10 years since I've been involved in V-Day," says Fonda from Atlanta. "Eve has become one of my best friends. I performed the monologue at Madison Square Garden a number of years ago. It was the first time in 15 years I had acted, and only Eve could have talked me into it. And Eve's choice of celebrating the anniversary in New Orleans is utter genius."
The location is no accident. Ensler picked post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans because "after the storm, the situation was and is such a disaster. We've been working on the ground there for two years with local groups."
Manhattan-based Ensler called each star and personally recruited them.
"What's amazing is that every single person who is coming to perform or speak is paying for themselves, for their board, and giving their services for free," says Ensler. "They are flying themselves and paying for themselves."
Hayek, meanwhile, hopes the V-Day event "is going to raise a lot of money and raise the spirits (of women in need). It'll give them an injection of courage and spirit. It's about letting them know how admired they are."