Interview: Daniel Gillies on his work with Oxfam in Uganda

Having starred in four seasons of CW’s ‘The Originals’, Daniel Gillies talked to us about his experience of moving into the Director’s Chair.

Alongside his work in acting and directing, Daniel has been working closely with the international humanitarian organisation — Oxfam, visiting newly-arrived refugees in Uganda.

AC: This season on ‘The Originals’ you moved into the Director’s chair, what was it like directing the actors you have been working with?

DANIEL: It was complicated with some. It was a seamless with others. But neither experience was less rewarding than the other. As the Director, I was a servant. I was there to serve. Any adversity that may have arisen, was there to supply me with an education. It’s a privilege to receive that education.

What has inspired you to start working with Oxfam?

I was approached by Jackie Nelson of Oxfam earlier this year. At that time, I was already in communication with another Global Humanitarian Group that I love (Action Against Hunger). That relationship began a couple of years back. Together with those folks and with the tools of social media I was able to raise a decent amount to donate to their organization, which inspired me to continue our communication and my commitment to the issue of Famine. Furthermore, I’d inadvertently received a minor education about many regions in the African continent afflicted with Famine and Conflict.

Jackie’s infectious goodwill and the noble aspirations of Oxfam were aligned pretty beautifully with what I was passionate about representing.

Julius Caeser/Oxfam

From this trip to these refugee camps, did you know what you wanted to learn from the visit?

Honestly, I don’t think I could have entered that situation ‘knowing what I wanted to learn’. What you learn is what you’re going to learn. You can’t control that, to a certain extent. It would defeat the purpose of the visit if I was to enter with an agenda or objective. Put it this way: The whole thing was an education.

How could it not be? It’s another world. Entirely. The only place I’ve ever seen poverty like that was in India and South America. And even then, those countries had their elements of (tyrannically disproportionate) wealth. But I’d never seen anything like what I witnessed in the refugee settlements of Bidi Bidi or Imvepi.Nor have most people in the West. Sadly, nor will they ever. This is something that I would ardently recommend people to do and to experience. We’re impervious to images on television and the internet. Their suffering and unimaginable plight can seem somehow unreal, distant and intangible. When you’re with them… when you’re laughing, eating, traveling with these folks…listening to their stories, they’re real. I would recommend visiting countries like Uganda. The people and the land are unbelievably beautiful…You’re safe from the terrors of War there, but you can actually see the brutality that the war has precipitated — when you see the legions of Women and Children in the Refugee Settlements.

I wanted to approach these people with humility. And nothing will humble you more that the refugees of the South Sudan.

I suppose I wanted a deeper understanding about what had befallen these people. The nature of the conflict that had torn these people from their homes. Who was responsible? Was there any foreseeable resolution?

PHOTOGRAPHY: JULIUS CAESAR / OXFAM

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