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HOUSTON, TX —  Rainn Wilson showed a more serious side to himself to more than 450 guests gathered at The Houstonian Hotel on Sept. 26.

The award-winning actor, producer, and humanitarian, known for his comedic role as “Dwight” in “The Office,” shared his own heartbreak at the plight of courageous immigrant women and girls fleeing extreme violence in the United States, including rape, female genital mutilation/cutting, domestic violence, human trafficking, honor crimes, and forced marriage.

“Tahirih Justice Center holds a special place in my heart,” said Wilson, on the verge of tears as he gave opening remarks at Tahirih Houston’s 4th Annual Gala, “The Goodfellas: Recognizing the Critical Role of Men in Ending Violence Against Women.”

“I believe that I am being held back, as a man, by the lack of equality for women. Half of our planet is not fully empowered to contribute to society. Violence against women is the worst symptom of this lack of equality and, until we fix this, we all suffer because of it,” Wilson shared with the audience.

The actor emphasized that in order to create a world where women and girls enjoy equality, both men and women need to work together. Otherwise, men will be left “floundering in the dust along with women,” he said, and society will never be able to reach its full potential.

Tahirih is on the frontline of this effort.

Rainn Wilson

Tahirih Houston Advisory Council Member, Christine LaFollette, with Rainn Wilson and Tahirih’s Executive Director, Layli Miller-Muro, at Tahirih’s 4th Annual Houston Gala. Photo by Lauren Claire Photography.

The national non-profit’s award-winning, holistic model for protection combines free legal services and social services case management with bridge-building public policy advocacy, education, and outreach. In 2014 alone, Tahirih provided more than 700 women and children in the Houston area with free legal and social services. However, Tahirih can only help one out of every four women who reaches out for protection.

The gala is critical to Tahirih’s ability to continue to provide free services to hundreds of women and girls in the Houston community every year, and each gala guest is vital to meeting that goal, said Anne Chandler, Director of Tahirih Houston.

Before the gala drew to a close, Wilson reminded guests of the importance they play in the lives of women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence.

“Tonight, we’re going to stand up against the oppression of women, support courageous women and girls, and we are going to raise some serious money,” Wilson said, reminding guests of the great need for financial support of Tahirih’s mission.

Each dollar donated to Tahirih brings a woman or girl closer to justice.

Missed this year’s gala, or want to relive the night? Learn more below.

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Read more: Tahirih Founder thanks gala guests for being part of ‘constellation of change’

Browse stunning gala photos

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