Celebvocate: Rainn Wilson on imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran

May 6, 2013

One in a continuing series on the stars who bring their causes to Washington. Monday’s visitor: Rainn Wilson.

Rainn Wilson, right, with journalist Roxana Saberi. (Amy Argetsinger / The Washington Post)
Rainn Wilson, right, with journalist Roxana Saberi. (Amy Argetsinger / The Washington Post)

Event: Commemoration of seven Baha’i leaders who have been imprisoned in Iran for five years.

Venue: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Bona fides: Emmy-nominated comic actor, best known as “The Office’s” pompous paper salesman Dwight Schrute. Arguably Hollywood’s most prominent member of the Baha’i faith.

Backup: Roxana Saberi, the U.S. journalist who, while jailed in Iran in 2009, shared a cell with two of the Baha’i leaders; Katrina Lantos-Swett of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

What he wants: More attention to the plight of Iran’s Baha’i, the largest religious minority in that nation; they have long been persecuted by the government, prohibited from getting university degrees and often jailed. “These poor seven souls are wasting away on trumped-up charges just because they want to pray together,” he told us.

How he looked: Like a real-life D.C. advocacy type. Dark, checked sports coat, slightly baggy pants, chunky specs, scruffy beard.

Observation: Is it hard for a comic to be taken seriously in the advocacy world? “It bothered me more at first — do people want me to be Dwight, am I supposed to tell jokes? But I stopped worrying about what people think about me. I just speak my conscience.”

Read more about recent celebvocates and even more about celebvocates from past years.

More Reliable Source: Lauryn Hill; Bill Clinton on Led Zeppelin; Helen Mirren; Paige Johnson; Phillips Collection gala

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Amy Argetsinger · May 6, 2013