Volunteerism through the eyes of a film star

Ms. Sawanee Utooma on how she draws on her passion for acting and directing to help others.

Chotirot Suksangvoravong
A lady wearing a blue jeans jacket over an I Am UNICEF t-shirt.
2021/Muay (Namkarng) Parivudhiphongs
10 June 2022

There are many reasons why people may be drawn to volunteering, whether to make a difference in society, give back to their community or make new friends through meaningful activities. For Ms. Sawanee Utooma, her passion for acting and directing drives her to volunteer with UNICEF.  

Ms. Sawanee ( Eiang ) who recently won Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Medium (2021),  
volunteered with UNICEF as a campaign video producer to mobilize support for millions of severely malnourished children worldwide. Our campaign featured a powerful video of the famous Thai actor Shahkrit Yamnarm, appealing to the public to join UNICEF in saving children from acute malnutrition. 

“I love acting. When I do what I love, my passion becomes my expertise – and this skillset can be applied to create an impact in society. Volunteering, for me, is to think beyond oneself and to do something good for others and the community. I feel genuinely happy when I use my skills to make a positive impact in others’ lives and in society," she said.

A lady wearing a blue jeans jacket over an I Am UNICEF t-shirt.
2021/Muay (Namkarng) Parivudhiphongs
Ms. Sawanee Utoomma, an actress, stage director and UNICEF volunteer.

Ms. Sawanee said that although volunteering does not provide monetary compensation like other jobs, it still comes with a high sense of duty and responsibility. Under I Am UNICEF, our volunteer programme at UNICEF Thailand, for example, all volunteers undergo an orientation about their roles and responsibilities, sign our Volunteer Code of Conduct and agree to follow its guidelines. The guidelines help protect both the volunteers and the children whom they interact with, ensuring that all volunteers serve in the best interests of children at the forefront of their minds. 

Our code of conduct for volunteers includes maintaining appropriate space when interacting with children, whether through direct or indirect communication, and obtaining consent from parents and UNICEF for taking pictures, videos or voice recordings of children. 

2 young men are taking photos and video footage of something at the production site.
2021/Muay (Namkarng) Parivudhiphongs
UNICEF volunteers taking photos and video footage at a production site.

Ms. Sawanee said that due to such a positive and inspiring atmosphere, volunteers may want to capture these moments by pulling out their phones to take photos and sharing their experiences on social media. However, this can often make the children that they engage with feel uncomfortable. She shared that we must remind ourselves of this fact and not let our personal needs overpower what is best for children. What is more lasting than these photographs is the growth and fulfillment that you gain while volunteering, which keeps you continuing to advocate for your community. 

When asked, "As a stage director, what role would you play if your life was a movie?" she responded quickly and without hesitation. 

“We are definitely the main characters in each of our lives. So, live a fulfilling life!” 

How about those of you who are reading this? Do you believe you're the main character in a movie? No matter what your answer might be, we encourage you to do your best in the role you have chosen and never forget to use your skills to make an impact for the people and community around you.  

If you have finished reading this story and would like to use your skills to make a difference, you can join our I Am UNICEF volunteer programme at our Volunteer Talent Pool. If there is a volunteer opportunity that matches your interests and expertise, our volunteer team will contact you directly. We hope to see you soon! 

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