A Fantastic Night with J.K. Rowling, Eddie Redmayne, and Lumos
During what I consider to be one of the most exciting times to be a Harry Potter fan in the history of, well, ever, having the chance to attend an advance screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in New York City courtesy of Lumos couldn’t have felt more like a dream come true. After scouring MuggleNet’s spoiler-filled review the day before the event, I felt more than ready to jump back into the world I’d been away from for so long. Knowing that I’d not only be seeing an incredible movie but also be sitting feet away from the woman who’d created it all was almost too much to bear. Rowling would be sitting alongside Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne to discuss a bit of the film and more importantly, Lumos Foundation USA, the non-profit children’s rights organization she founded and the foundation the night would benefit.
I arrived at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan about 25 minutes before the screening and nervously waited in line at the box office, hoping that “all was well” and that they’d have my tickets. A few moments later, with tickets in hand, I found myself waiting to ride the elevator up to my seat. As someone who has never been to Carnegie Hall, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The elevator arrived, and I scurried off down a long hallway in a rush to find my seat. Rounding the corner, I caught sight of the main hall where the event would be taking place and fell silent – it was beautiful; grand yet intimate. The perfect place for an event like this. I was swiftly handed a goody bag with some Potter merch (Lumos, you are far too kind), took my seat in Row 11 (I know, I know!!!), and waited, right leg shaking in anticipation, for Rowling to emerge on stage.
After a solid, seemingly five-minute-long standing ovation, Rowling and Redmayne took their seats on stage and began discussing the charity work being done by Lumos. When asked about why she began Lumos, Rowling recounted a moment in which she was reading the newspaper and saw the photograph of a little boy, locked in a cage, mouth open and screaming. As she began to turn the page, she stopped herself; she told herself that she must read the story, and if it was as bad as it looked, she would act. Sure enough, the story was even worse than what the photo let on, and from there, Lumos began to take shape.
I just couldn’t help but to hang on to every word she was saying. She began to explain that over the past decade, Lumos has helped thousands of children – from infants to older children – return to family life in Central and Eastern Europe and more recently, in Haiti. Currently, they are expanding to Latin America and the Caribbean, and thanks to everyone who had purchased a ticket for the benefit, as well as the foundation’s 100% pledge, all funds raised that night would be allocated to helping remove children from orphanages and placing them with families.
It was at this point that I couldn’t have felt more proud to be at that benefit. Rowling continued to stress the importance of children staying with their families and how key this was for their development and success in life and closed her 25-minute Q&A by saying to us all that the problem before us – helping children regain their right to a family – was solvable. “This is an extremely solvable issue,” she said. “It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but we know how to do it.”
Around 48 hours later, I am still captivated by Rowling’s work with Lumos. I’d always known about and appreciated Lumos, but I’d never considered donating before this benefit, which I now realize to have been such a mistake. It’s an incredible organization, with an inspiring mission and a fantastic team behind it to drive change in this world. Lumos has certainly found its home on my list of places to donate to each year; will it be on yours?
Special thanks to Lumos for inviting MuggleNet to J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts” Benefit Screening for Lumos