The actress teamed up with Clarks and Girl Rising for the “Stand Up for Change” campaign on International Day of the Girl

By Hanna Flanagan
October 11, 2019 01:18 PM
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Shelly Kroeger

Following the success of her 2008 Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, Freida Pinto gained a worldwide platform — and she’s taken full advantage of it ever since!

PEOPLE caught up with the actress and humanitarian, 34, after the Clarks and Girl Rising “Stand Up for Change” women’s empowerment panel to celebrate the International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11.

“Having one day in the year we can dedicate to just listening to inspirational stories of girls who will end up inspiring some kind of change is very important,” Pinto tells PEOPLE. Still, she says, “We said we don’t need one particular day because every day should be International Day of the Girl. I don’t need to wait until Oct. 11 to celebrate girls.”

Pinto has taken part in the day of empowerment, which aims to help girls across the world access their human rights and address their day-to-day challenges, since the beginning in 2012.

Clarks

“In many parts of the world, it’s always the girls who are the most marginalized – they’re denied education or have been taken out of school because they’ve been married at age 18,” she previously told PEOPLE. “Getting involved came from a very human part of me. I haven’t been denied education and have the best education my parents could possibly give me, so this just came from a very human perspective.”

RELATED: Freida Pinto Admits That Speaking Her Mind Can Get Her ‘into Trouble’ — but That Won’t Keep Her Quiet!

Reflecting on her own experience as a little girl growing up in Mumbai, India, the Guerrilla actress remembers having big dreams — dreams that trumped Hollywood and international fame.

“I dreamt of things that were far bigger than what I have today…they were completely built out of the most crazy fantasies in the world,” Pinto (who stars in the the Clarks Autumn/Winter 2019 global campaign alongside Big Little Lies’ Alexander Skarsgard) tells PEOPLE. “I was more uninhibited, more free in that sense than my 35-year-old self.”

“I’ve not collected a lot of international awards, but my younger 10-year-old self would be proud that I got just one,” she adds.

Among those awards and honors: a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress and, in 2016, she was named ambassador for Girl Rising (a global campaign for girl’s education and empowerment).

Freida Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire
Celador Films/Pathe International/Kobal/Shutterstock

She has also worked for gender equality cause Chime for Change, food-recovery nonprofit Copia and Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative.

RELATED: Freida Pinto Would ‘Absolutely Not’ Work with Woody Allen Again: ‘I’m Not Desperate’

After over a decade in the industry — walking red carpets all over the world and gracing the covers of major fashion magazines like Vogue, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar — Pinto tells PEOPLE that, these days, she values sustainability and has a practical approach to clothes.

Richie Buxo/Silverhub/REX/Shutterstock

“I’m really lucky that my stylist puts me in these pretty outfits, but it’s not what dominates my closet,” she says. “If there’s a new sustainable clothing brand, I want one T-shirt from them because, guess what? I don’t need 10 T-shirts.”

“The ridiculousness of more and more and more just drives me crazy,” Pinto addsd. “The fashion world for me is a world of excess in that way. Until we crack the code on how we don’t use so much water to make both garments and how we stop so many other practices that are archaic that we don’t need it.”

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