2023 marks thirty years since Audrey Hepburn passed away due to complications from colon cancer, and seventy years since her American film debut in 1953’s Roman Holiday.
By the early 70s, she was a mother to two, Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer, and decided to be less involved in Hollywood and focus on raising her family.
As her parenthood journey continued, she became dedicatedly involved in the international children’s charity, UNICEF, becoming a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1988 and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, a year before her death.
Among the UNICEF field trips she took included, “visiting a polio vaccine project in Turkey, training programmes for women in Venezuela, initiatives for children living and working on the street in Ecuador, projects to provide drinking water in Guatemala and Honduras, and radio literacy programmes in El Salvador. She saw schools in Bangladesh, services for impoverished children in Thailand, nutrition initiatives in Viet Nam and camps for displaced children in Sudan,” according to UNICEF’s official website.
Following in her footsteps, despite never having met her, Audrey’s granddaughter, Emma Ferrer – daughter to Audrey’s second son, Sean – has involved herself as part of UNICEF’s mission.
In 2018, Emma talked with InStyle about carrying on her grandmother’s legacy as someone fighting for children in need at UNICEF’s 14th annual Snowflake Ball in New York City that raised $3.8 million.
“It’s been eye-opening for me to realize I can choose the way that I want to carry on her legacy.”
“I used to struggle a lot with people wondering whether I looked like her or dressed like her, and it’s been really cool to just wake up and be like this is the message that I want to carry forward,” she continued. “This is the work that I know she’d be proud of me doing. So I can do that and at the same time follow my own path.”
Considering her “family ties” to the charity, she said, “Since I could pronounce words, I’ve known what UNICEF was.”
“It was always there and always being taught to me,” she added. “It’s always just been a family tradition, almost. It’s really cool. It’s something that I take for granted, I guess, but I shouldn’t. It’s not something every kid can say, right?”
In 2021, Emma talked with Today about what Audrey’s influence meant for UNICEF.
“She really revolutionized what we take for granted today … which is to have a celebrity of her magnitude associated with a cause like she was,” she said. “But at the time — I don’t know if we can really appreciate how revolutionary that, in fact, was.”
In addition to wanting to help out where she can, Emma said working with UNICEF serves as “a way for me to really kind of feel a connection to her that … I’ve struggled to feel otherwise.”