Deborra-Lee Furness Talks Family and Adoption Ahead of Christie's Artwork Sale Benefitting Her Nonprofit
"Family, to me, means you feel safe," Furness tells PEOPLE ahead of an auction benefitting her adoption nonprofit Hopeland
Family is always at the forefront of Deborra-Lee Furness's mind.
The actress, director and producer virtually sat down with PEOPLE to talk about her family with Hugh Jackman, adoption and the "killer" piece of art her longtime friend, the artist Sarah Sze, worked on for a year to benefit Furness's nonprofit Hopeland at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art sale next month.
Sze's piece, "Surprise Ending," "just hits you in the face," says Furness, 64. It "just blows my mind, because, wow, the story behind every little stroke and every little collage is there," she says. "It's amazing."
The work of art will be on sale on Dec. 3, with the proceeds going toward Hopeland, the New York City nonprofit she co-founded to prevent parent and child separation and ensuring every child has a family.
"We're trying to get kids out of orphanages; they do not thrive [there]," says Furness, adding Hopeland works on coming up "with better methodologies."
"Every minute that a child is not in a safe, nurturing environment with a permanent family, damage is being done to them emotionally, physically and psychologically," she says. "That to me is just unacceptable. And society is measured by the way we treat our most vulnerable, so we, as a country, need to really step up."
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"Family, to me, means you feel safe," says Furness. "I always use the expression, 'All of us need to know that we're precious.' So, with family, you've always got that you're important in someone else's life."
Oscar and Ava have "both made me smarter than I think I ever could have been on my own," says the actress. "When you're a parent, you can't lie to them or yourself. They will shine a light on every one of your flaws, your Achilles heel, whatever. You've got to look at yourself."
Furness says going "back to our authentic selves" is key in making deeper connections with family and friends.
"Trust yourself and open your heart," she says. "If we walked on a street and we knew everyone's backstory, we'd all be a lot kinder to each other, because everyone has got a battle that they face, and we don't see it."
She adds, "I think what we all should do is give, and then that makes us take the energy off ourselves or our needs or selfishness. And when you put it out there, you feel better anyway, it comes back again."
Sze's "Surprise Ending" will be offered at Christie's on Dec. 3, with proceeds benefitting Hopeland.
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