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People Are Awesome: ‘The Wire’ Actress Helps Fix the Real Baltimore

When Sonja Sohn’s castmates returned to Los Angeles at the show’s conclusion, she stayed behind to help.

When most movie and television celebrities finish filming a project on location, they immediately up and leave, forever abandoning the neighborhood or city that lent verisimilitude to their work. Setting a movie in a gritty apartment in Harlem might win awards, but it’s a far cry from the luxurious Los Angeles manses in which Hollywood types reside. The critically acclaimed HBO crime drama The Wire, for instance, famously used the streets of Baltimore as its backdrop. And when the show was over and the cameras had been packed up, most of the cast left, too. But not Sonja Sohn.

Best known as Detective Shakima "Kima" Greggs on The Wire, Sohn has dedicated her time since the show ended to supporting the city that supported her breakout HBO role. A victim of a traumatic childhood that included abuse, drugs, altercations with police, and poverty, Sohn decided that when The Wire ended she wanted to stay in Baltimore and help citizens avoid the problems she once faced.

Sohn founded ReWired for Change with Wire costars Wendell Pierce and Michael K. Williamsm setting a goal of cutting down on crime and violence in Baltimore by educating young people through the arts and mentoring programs. “I felt like I was trapped in this acting game going, 'What is this all about? What is this all leading to?'” Sohn told NPR. "And in 2008, when I saw the kind of influence that a person who is in the public eye can have in the lives of those who have less, then I began to see, 'Ah... this is the solution. This is what it was all leading to all this time.' And once I embraced that, life came into perfect balance. And that's what it's all about.”

Sohn is not the only former Wire cast-member with an eye toward helping the community. Besides participating in ReWired, Pierce has opened up a group of grocery stores in food deserts around New Orleans, where he films Treme, screenwriter David Simon’s post-Wire project. It turns out there's a lot of reason to love The Wire beyond Omar's most quotable lines.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user qwrrty

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