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How Mark Rylance is Helping Indigenous Peoples Around the World

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Amy Sussman/Invision/AP

Although he’s well-known for his work in the theater and film, Mark Rylance is now hoping to spread the word on another project close to his heart.

The Oscar winner, 56, has joined forces with the organization Survival International to help protect the land and defend the lives of tribal peoples around the world.

“As an English immigrant to America, I felt responsible for the actions of my ancestors and knew that the wealth and comfort of our society was built on this genocide,” Rylance tells PEOPLE.

But Rylance says he was always looking back at history and wasn’t aware of the genocidal practices taking place today until he discovered Survival International.

“The charity lobbies people in power, pleading for the rights and needs of tribal peoples, and gives these vulnerable groups a platform to speak about the genocidal violence, slavery and racism they face on a daily basis.”

The BFG actor, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in Bridge of Spies, adds that he has learned so much from working with the org.

“Tribal peoples have beautiful mythologies, crafts, language, music and extraordinary gifts of endurance and humor,” he says. “Working with the organization has humbled me. It has emboldened me to speak out when I know of an injustice.”