Blake Lively's eyes have never been more open. As part of a new PBS series, A Path Appears, the Gossip Girl alum and new mom joined author and journalist Nicholas Kristof on a visit to the anti-trafficking organization My Life My Choice, which, according to its mission statement, aims to "prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of adolescents" right here in the United States.
Based on Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, the three-part series features celebrity activists traveling around the world to examine the devastating effects of gender inequality. Lively's trip took her to Boston, Mass., where she spent some time filming The Town in 2009. (Boston is also where the actress' now-husband Ryan Reynolds was living when they first started dating in 2011.)
"I thought of sex trafficking as something that happened elsewhere," the Age of Adaline star, 27, tells Kristof on the show, as seen in the above clip from the first episode, which premieres on PBS on Monday, Jan. 26, at 10 p.m. "To see it happening in the United States, it seems sort of impossible," she continues. "You can't fathom that this is sort of a prevalent issue, because where are these girls coming from?"
Kristof then takes her to My Life My Choice, where they meet co-founder Audrey Morrissey, herself a survivor of prostitution. Morrissey is now an associate director for the organization, and helps mentor other survivors to become mentors themselves.
"The most powerful thing is for women not just to be the beneficiaries of the change, but to be agents of it," Lively — who welcomed her first child, a daughter, last month — explains. "My Life My Choice is such a powerful organization because it utilizes survivors."
During the visit, the Savages star hears stories from young women who escaped the trafficking industry after being forced into it earlier in life. "I have a greater sense of the fact that not everybody is free," she admits afterward.
Lively is clearly inspired by the women and, in particular, by Morrissey. "We're not going to save all the children overnight," she says. "But these women will raise their children to be more educated, to be more aware. And it breaks the cycle."
Watch the clip above to see more of her interaction with the survivors, and tune in to PBS on Monday, Jan. 26, at 10 p.m. to see the full first episode.