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Mother-daughter Dushkus both activists

Judy and Eliza Dushku in Uganda.

Judy and Eliza Dushku in Uganda.

It’s a good bet that many — perhaps even most — of Eliza Dushku’s 1.3 million followers on Twitter have no idea about the actress’s work in Uganda. And that’s understandable: Nongovernmental organizations aren’t nearly as sexy as some of the roles Dushku has played, notably on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse.”

Nonetheless, Dushku and her mother, Suffolk University government professor Judy Dushku, will be at Brandeis next month delivering the keynote address at the school’s annual festival of social justice. They’ll be talking about THRIVEGulu, their nonprofit organization in Uganda focused on building and operating a trauma-healing center in Gulu, in northern Uganda.

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The project is the result of an eye-opening trip Judy Dushku took to the East African country with students in 2009. Eliza has since been to the country three times. The goal of THRIVEGulu is to help the people of Uganda rebuild their lives after the trauma of war, sexual enslavement, extreme poverty, and lost opportunities.

“My mom is absolutely my hero and we had a number of years where we were trying to figure out that mother-daughter thing, fine-tuning our relationship,” Dushku told us this week. “The last five years really have been extraordinary, getting to work with my mom and follow her and be taught by her.

“There’s been no greater joy in my life than working with my mother,” she said.

We reached the actress in Los Angeles, where she’s busy shooting “The Saint,” a reboot of the 1960s TV show that starred Roger Moore as a thief who robbed the rich to help the poor. In the new show, British actor
Adam Rayner plays the title role and Dushku is his on-and-off girlfriend and partner in crime.

“In a way, it feels like a feature [film]. Nothing’s being held back,” she said.

Asked if she’s doing her own stunts on the action-filled show, Dushku laughed.

“C’mon, [producers] knew what I’d bring to the party before I showed up,” she said. “That’s one of the draws for me. It’s an adrenaline boost, for sure.”

The Brandeis event is Feb. 6. It is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved with an e-mail to rsvp200@brandeis.edu.

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