Sonja Sohn was born and raised in the South, primarily in Newport News, VA, to an African American father and Korean mother during the post civil rights era. After a youth filled with love, struggle and small triumphs, Sohn set her sights on New York City where she lived for two decades, briefly attending various colleges and eventually marrying and raising two daughters before moving to Baltimore in 2003. In her late teens, Sohn found herself pursuing a career in the arts. After dabbling in fine arts as a painter, she became one of the pioneers in the spoken word scene in
Sonja Sohn was born and raised in the South, primarily in Newport News, VA, to an African American father and Korean mother during the post civil rights era. After a youth filled with love, struggle and small triumphs, Sohn set her sights on New York City where she lived for two decades, briefly attending various colleges and eventually marrying and raising two daughters before moving to Baltimore in 2003.
In her late teens, Sohn found herself pursuing a career in the arts. After dabbling in fine arts as a painter, she became one of the pioneers in the spoken word scene in New York in the nineties, which eventually led to a Warner Bros/Coalition/Arthrob recording contract in London where she launched an album, under the name, “FiniDolo,” a collaboration between her and British music producer, Noel Watson.
After 5 years of studying acting under the tutelage of renowned acting coach, Susan Batson, Sohn landed the lead female role in SLAM, directed by Marc Levin and co-written by her and the principle cast of the film. SLAM became a festival darling in 1998 when it won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Camera D’or at the Cannes Film Festival in France. That same year, she and co-star, Saul Williams, won the IFP Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough Performance for their roles in SLAM. Thus, began Sohn’s official acting career and the road that led to her eventual calling: intertwining her career in the arts with her passion for social justice and activism.
Sohn was inspired to start ReWired for Change in 2008 by her own life’s journey and her work on the ground during the course of the 2008 presidential election. That year, she and her colleagues from HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire, devoted their efforts to working with National Urban League President, Marc Morial, to empower and educate voters on the importance of their vote across Virginia and with the Obama campaign in North Carolina and Philadelphia.
It was during this time that she witnessed the impact The Wire cast had on community members who were living in underserved areas. Sohn saw, firsthand, how celebrity can be used responsibly to influence the lives of people who are often left out of the social equation. She was particularly moved by how often the act of one inspired another and continued to ripple throughout these communities. Something had to be done to continue to nurture the seed of change planted by Sohn and her colleagues; immediately following the campaign trail, she began to galvanize the support of the rest of The Wire cast and crew in her efforts to devise ways in which they could use their creative resources and media access as a force for change in the lives of high risk youth, adults and families living in disadvantaged areas. Sohn envisioned an effort to take high risk young people on a journey towards self awareness and becoming productive citizens who contribute to the well being of their communities.
During the early years of her work on the ground, she quickly began to realize that youth cannot heal without the support of a healthy family and community to come home to and began to focus her efforts on creating a holistic, all inclusive approach to sustainable individual and community healing and empowerment.
Ms. Sohn’s efforts and dedication to community involvement and helping underserved populations have resulted in her being the recipient of the Center for Community Change’s 2012 Change Champion Community Activist Award; being a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee, and the recipient of the Harvard Black Men’s Forum 2011 Woman of the Year award. Ms. Sohn has served on a panel addressing “Urban Problems Up-Close and Personal” at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative’s Revitalizing Cities Think Tank, provided testimony for the United States Department of Justice “Defending Childhood” initiative which is focused on reducing the extent and impact of children’s exposure to violence and serves on the Board of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children.
As illustrated by these accomplishments and her leadership of ReWired For Change, as well as her work on SLAM and The Wire, Sonja Sohn has demonstrated her ability to fuse together her entertainment expertise with a passion for redirecting the lives of our nation’s most endangered populations. With ReWired for Change, Sohn continues to develop the ultimate vehicle for what she believes to be her life’s purpose: to educate, uplift, empower and unite the marginalized and underserved populations of the world.
ReWired for Life! is a life skills, violence prevention and self-esteem building program that uses media, resource activities, and the arts as tools for personal transformation. Through various interactive lesson plans, participants learn the value of self-reflection and the necessity of thinking critically about their life choices, family and community relationships, and how to succeed in life and change the world around them. In the pilot program, the HBO hit series “The Wire” was used as a teaching tool where students view, analyze and discuss various episodes, while thinking about the implications of the themes in their lives. ReWired for Life! participants were youth, ages 14-21, who had been recently been released from the juvenile system. We are greatly indebted to Parks to People, and Youth Opportunity! Baltimore in East Baltimore. both for the valuable support and assistance they offered to the ReWired For Life! program during the pilot phase. ReWired for Change! is currently working to place this program in satellite locations.
The Baltimore Wake Up was a community empowerment initiative of Rewired for Change. Recognizing that the residents of our disenfranchised communities have limited, if any access to a national platform, but are still keeping up the “good fight” on the ground level everyday with little support, Baltimore City residents were empowered to develop and lead various community service projects. In the process, participants acquired the civic engagement and community-building skills needed to create long-term sustainable change in their own neighborhoods. The idea for The Baltimore Wake Up was originally cultivated by Donnie Andrews, Founder of Why Murder? and Sonja Sohn, Founder/CEO of ReWired For Change.