UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Alumna
"I am excited about my role with UNICEF, which will enable me to speak out to young people on the importance of education and motherhood."
Internationally known model and actress Vendela Thommessen, a passionate advocate for girls’ education, was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1996.
Vendela’s active support for UNICEF dates to 1993, when she took part in a series of events commemorating the Day of the African Child in New York. In 1997, she embarked on her first UNICEF mission, to Bangladesh and India, where she met with government officials and visited a wide range of projects, including the Mukhti ashram in New Delhi – a transitory rehabilitation and vocational training centre for children freed from child labour.
Vendela visited Bolivia in 1999 and Nepal in 2002. She participated in the presidential launch of the Basic Health Insurance system in Bolivia to help address child and maternal mortality. Vendela also witnessed initiatives to reduce child malnutrition and promote women’s literacy. In Nepal, she focused on girls’ education, visiting a UNICEF-supported project on safe motherhood and out-of-school programmes for children.
Born in Sweden, Vendela was discovered by the modelling agent Eileen Ford at the age of 13. After graduating from school, she moved to Italy to pursue a highly successful international modelling career, representing Elizabeth Arden and Revlon, among others. In 1997, Vendela made her feature-film debut, appearing with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman and Robin.