Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren, who is visiting Israel to host this year’s Genesis Prize ceremony, called herself a “believer” in Israel and rejected artistic boycotts of the Jewish state during a press conference in Jerusalem.
“I think that art is an incredibly important way of communication. The artists of the country are the people you need to communicate with and make a relationship with and learn from and build upon. So I absolutely don’t believe in the boycott, and here I am,” she said.
The ceremony for the Genesis Prize, also known as the “Jewish Nobel,” takes place Thursday. The $1 million prize will be awarded to Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman. The prize was founded in 2014, and last year’s winner was actor Michael Douglas. The previous year’s prize was given to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Both the 2014 and 2015 ceremonies were hosted by comedian Jay Leno.
The 70-year-old Mirren is not Jewish, but has played a number of Jewish characters on the big screen, such as a Mossad agent in “The Debt” and a Holocaust survivor in “Woman in Gold.” In real life, the actress has also visited Israel several times. In 1967, she volunteered on a kibbutz with her Jewish boyfriend at the time.
“I am a believer in Israel….I think this is an extraordinary country filled with very, very extraordinary people,” she said, the Associated Press reported.