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CNN Reporter Poses as Migrant Wanting to be Smuggled to Europe; U.S. House Bill would Allow Victims to Sue Web Sites; Five-Hour Daily Ceasefire Set in Eastern Ghouta; Guns in America; More than 100 Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria; The Dark Side of Aid; Interview with George Clooney. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired February 27, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:09] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --
Imagine signing up for a journey in which you are warned that up front you may be raped. CNN goes undercover in Nigeria to find out about the dangerous routes some take try to get to Europe.
Can Nigeria protect its students? That's the question that's arising again after the government takes a week to admit dozens of girls were kidnapped at a boarding school.
And online child sex trafficking in the United States is a big business for some Web sites and protected by Internet laws. But after years on site that may be changing this week.
Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
Well, for many a trip to Europe requires more than a passport and a plane ticket. But others desperate to escape lives of poverty, war or oppression the price is astronomically higher.
CNN Freedom Project and our own Nima Elbagir went out on a dangerous undercover mission to expose smugglers -- so called pusher men who take people from Nigeria to Libya and ultimately Europe.
Posing as a migrant, Nima was told you'll probably be raped and don't fight back.
Here's here exclusive report.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An unsavory neighborhood in Edo State. Edo is Nigeria's main smuggling hub where traffickers ply their trade openly. We're hoping this man will agree to traffic us to Europe.
Evake (ph) as he calls himself is a broker. Known locally as pusher man he is one of an army of traffickers working with smugglers on the Nigeria end of the migrant route to Europe.
He tells our producer he can do it for 500,000 lira -- that's just under $1,400 each. The money is due on arrival in Libya. He warns us not to waste his time.
ELBAGIR: We're told to go back to the hotel. We test our undercover cameras and wait. Finally we're told to move to the location, Auchi, in the north of Edo State.
Tonight Evake is working out of the local hotel that serves as a brothel. Inside the brothel, we're told to wait. We don't know what we're waiting for. Utterly unprepared but all of a sudden, we're on the move. Our journey to Europe is underway.
We move to the local bar (INAUDIBLE) where we're told we'll be put on a bus heading north. But first Evake wants to know if I had everything I need.
EVAKE, NIGERIAN PUSH MAN: Like, what do you call it? Nigerians say here, they have a gold circle here, meaning condom. We have "kiss", you know "Kiss". Do you know "kiss"? We have "kiss" here. You just have it in your bag, for the journey. In your bag.
ELBAGIR: So we can't travel without the contraception.
EVAKE: We can get them for you, you're not paying. We'll get them for you.
ELBAGIR: As part of --
EVAKE: Yes, as part of the journey.
ELBAGIR: Part of the journey, you'll get it for us. Because the women are abused? What happens? The women are abused on the trip?
EVAKE: In Libya.
ELBAGIR: In Libya? What happens? They get pregnant?
EVAKE: That's why I was telling you to have those things.
It's not a guarantee, sometimes we have to meet one of them, like say somebody asks. I would like to assist you. You know what that means.
Don't tell me you don't know what I'm saying.
ELBAGIR: Yes, I understand.
Taking me aside, Evake repeats again, "Condoms. Don't struggle if you're raped and ultimately trust in God."
With that we board the overnight bus to the north. The door is locked behind us. From here begins the journey into the unknown, a journey that promises a listening of horrors, rape, trafficking, slavery. Once we're sure the bus has moved out Evake's sight, we jump off. We at least are safe.
[00:05:03] So if we had stayed on that bus we would be on our way to Kanu (ph) now in the north of Nigeria some time the middle of the day, two or three in the afternoon tomorrow.
We would be arriving in Kanu. From Kanu, somebody would have been waiting to take us on the next leg of the journey to Agadez. And from Agadez through to Libya and in theory, on arrival in Libya, that's when the brokers get paid.
It is incredible that it is so public. It's incredible that it's so brazen that they're using public transport to start this leg of the journey.
This is the most traffic through (ph) destination in Africa. It is the main departure point for so much of these smuggling routes. And yet these brokers are able to ply their trade so openly.
And to think that as a woman, they would expect me to be carrying contraception. They would expect me to have made my peace with the fact that at almost every leg of this journey I would be assaulted and raped and abused.
It is unimaginable that people re willing to take these risks to make it to Europe.
In the end it was easier even than we could possibly have imagined. CNN has passed on the evidence we uncovered to the Nigerian authorities. What we experienced was just the beginning of the nightmare.
Hopefully the Nigerian government will be able to stop any more young women from being lured with a false dream of a new life.
Nima Elbagir, CNN -- Edo State, Nigeria.
SESAY: Well, in response to CNN's investigation the Edo State attorney general tells CNN, "We are actively involved in investigations and have commenced several prosecutions. We'll actively investigate and prosecute any trafficker. Trafficking in Edo is neither solely about economic issues nor underdevelopment. It has deep cultural roots that must be exposed, examined and pulled out."
Well, in the coming hours, U.S. lawmakers will vote on a bill which targets sex trafficking online. It would allow victims and prosecutors to sue Web sites that knowingly promote trafficking.
Right now, those sites are effectively immune from liability for what other people post, one such Web site backpage.com. The National Census of Missing and Exploited Children says people use Backpage to post ads for prostitution and child sex trafficking.
The documentary film "I am Jane Doe" chronicles the battle mothers are waging against Backpage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Backpage is the Wal-Mart of human trafficking.
It's an incredibly profitable business.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will never see the family member before she was sold on that Web site.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need someone to give us a fighting chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: We'll be monitoring developments out of Washington, D.C. for you and we're going to have much more tomorrow night right here on CNN NEWSROOM L.A.
Meantime CNN has partnered with young people around the world on March 14 for a student-led day of action against modern day slavery. And in advance of My Freedom Day we asked Moroccan musician RedOne what freedom means to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDONE, MOROCCAN MUSICIAN: Freedom is life. It's very individual to different people, you know. And if we can help people to be free and feel freedom, we should.
We should -- I mean it's not my effort or it's everybody's effort and we -- it can be someone that you love and he's in jail within himself doesn't have freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: So we want to hear what freedom means to you. Post a photo or video to social media using the #MyFreedomDay.
Well, we are now less than two hours away from a brief break in the fighting in eastern Ghouta, if everything goes as planned.
The Syrian government has agreed to a daily five-hour ceasefire in the region giving humanitarian workers a chance to rescue women, children, and the wounded. It is not much time at all but at least, at least it brings a small measure of relief to civilians trapped in that war zone.
More now from CNN's Sam Kiley.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no humanitarian ceasefire over Syria and certainly not in East Ghouta notwithstanding United Nations Security Council resolutions that call for it. They have been ignored. They've been ignored by, in particular, the Syrian government. And eyewitnesses are also alleging that the Russian aircraft may also have been involved in bombardment of East Ghouta from the air.
There's also been reports of continued artillery attacks and indeed even reports of the use of chlorine gas and a number of injuries reported from that. This is a heavy gas that can get down into the underground bunkers the civilians are using to shelter from the onslaught that is coming both from artillery and from the air.
[00:10:04] There have been at least two dozen dead reported by activists on the ground. But the Russians have come up with an offer of humanitarian pause in operations between 9:00 in the morning and 14:00 hours -- that's 2:00 local time.
Now that is a five-hour period in which they're saying the most severely injured could be evacuated into government-held territory. That is an opportunity that some of the most severe cases might well choose to take up because the opportunity or the options to remain behind means almost certain death in an environment in which there are almost no medical supplies now.
But for the vast majority of people living in East Ghouta, it's unlikely that they would choose to evacuate into government held territory where there are fears that they could be arrested, detained and much worse.
Nonetheless this is a gesture that has come largely from President Putin and he has said that he will pressurize the Syrians, almost order the Syrians into compliance. But so far there has been no report of any cessation in the violence and just as that humanitarian corridor opportunity was being offered, there were indeed reports on the ground to CNN of continued bombing by using helicopters and barrel bombs.
Sam Kiley, CNN -- Istanbul.
SESAY: Well, U.N. officials were frustrated at the five-hour ceasefire offer. They want more time to conduct humanitarian relief operations that say it's better than nothing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANE DUJARRIC, U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: We stand ready as soon as the conditions are safe for truck drivers, humanitarian workers to roll into these areas. For that to be effective, the fighting needs to stop. We need to ensure that there are no road blocks whether physical or administrative.
Whether or not five hours is enough or not enough it's a difficult question to answer. Five hours is better than no hours. But we would like to see any cessation process be extended 30 days as the Security Council had said. But we will effort to do whatever we can within the time that we're able to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, let's be clear, there is skepticism the ceasefire will even happen. The U.S. President said quote, "The proof will be in the silence."
First, there were the Chibok schoolgirls. Now Nigeria is facing another mass kidnapping at another boarding school. See how the government's delayed response is raising worries and anger.
And the U.S. President is talking tough about the Florida school shooting, yet legislation on gun control is still in question. All of that is just ahead.
Stay with us.
[00:15:06] Well, U.S. President Donald Trump says he would have run into a Florida high school to stop the gunman even if he didn't have a weapon. He made the comment while accusing sheriff's deputies of failing to stop the violence.
Meantime sources say the President seems to be backing away from his call to raise the age limit to 21 to buy certain firearms. It is a proposal the NRA opposes.
While meeting with governors Monday, Mr. Trump urged them to ignore pressure from the powerful gun lobby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys -- half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There's nothing to be afraid of. And you know what, if they're not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That's ok.
They're doing what they think is right. I will tell you they are doing what they think is right. But sometimes we're going to have to be very tough so we're going to have to fight them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, joining us here in L.A. to talk about that fight is Jessica Levinson. She's a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School and a friend of the show. Jessica -- good to see you.
JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Good to see you.
SESAY: Let me just pick up first of all on the President's comment there to assembled governors telling them they shouldn't be afraid to fight the NRA. Sometimes you need to take the fight to them.
It does seem a little incongruous given the relationship the President has had with the National Rifle Association.
LEVINSON: Well, the President has been very open about touting his relationship with the National Rifle Association and talking about how they have been long-time supporters of him and how he's been long-time supporters of theirs.
And I think what -- there are so many incongruous parts of this but I think what feels incongruous to American public is that there is broad and wide support for sensible gun control among constituents.
But there is not broad and wide support for gun control among our elected officials, those who are supposed to represent us in the nation's capital. And that's largely because of the power of the NRA. In part because of the vast amounts of money that they can spend to help elect certain people or defeat certain people and in part because they have a lot of members who go to the ballot box.
SESAY: You say that. We took a close look at that and we found that the NRA only has five million members in a country of 300 million plus. So again, the disparity is lost. I mean they wield an outsized (INAUDIBLE) of power compared to how many of them there actually are.
LEVINSON: Yes. So, in terms of numbers, but if you look at where they're located and how often they vote, I would say it's not just an absolute number game. So, you know, in American politics it matters if you live in a swing state and if you're a swing voter.
But it is so -- it is absolutely important to emphasize that the money makes a big difference. And people talk about well, you know, how are we going to get sensible gun control and what's completely left out of the debate is how are we going to get sensible campaign finance laws (ph) because if we cut off the money spigot, and there is so much money that is pumped into our system, then it deeply affects who we elect and what actually gets a floor vote and what type of legislation is passed.
SESAY: You know, is this a different moment though because CNN's polling has the support for stricter gun control at 70 percent which is higher than back in October when it was at 52 percent after the shooting in Vegas. So 70 percent -- is this a moment that is just different that lawmakers can bank on, if you will?
So this is all about bank, so to speak --
SESAY: -- it's all about money. Can they bank on that, that number, that 70 percent?
LEVINSON: I really wish I wasn't about to say this but I think if we were right before the midterms, I don't want to under (INAUDIBLE) but basically the best time for a shooting is right before the midterms elections and there is no -- let me say there is no good time for shooting. This is murder.
SESAY: This is horrific. LEVINSON: But if you want to think about basically giving elected officials cover to pass legislation and/or giving voters the motivation to go in and change who they vote for or support candidates because of where they stand on the Second Amendment then really you want to look at something that happened on October of 2018.
So unfortunately we see these numbers for gun control kind of ebb and flow depending on how recently children have been murdered in our country.
SESAY: So to have the President now, and this is the issue I think that people have -- have talked about, pointed out with President Trump that, you know, in the aftermath of this horrific shooting in Florida, basically three things were on the table.
They came out in drips and drabs that first of all, you know, we heard that he was in support of raising the age for purchasing rifles from 18 to 21. Also we know he made the move immediately to ask the attorney general to start the process to ban bump stocks. And then of course, it also emerged that he's in support of comprehensive background checks.
[00:20:01] So those three things and now on Monday, we're hearing he's kind of edging away from raising the age. And this is the issue, right, that you don't know how committed he is to any one issue or how long he'll remain committed to an issue which in this case is necessary to get -- to give those Republicans cover to vote for change.
Well, and let's just say how pathetic it is that there's something, that 70 percent at this point of the American public support that is leaning to the death of our children. But our lawmakers need cover from a President who is simply has an opinion that blows depending on the direction of the wind for cover to pass this type of legislation.
But I think you're absolutely right. We saw -- we're seeing this right now with respect to immigration reform. We've seen this in other areas where lawmakers don't know exactly where the President is at any given time so they're not sure what type of legislation they can put forward.
And you know, to your point, I think that President Trump's response has been all over the page. Well yes, we can raise the age which frankly is not going to do all that much. And yes, we can create more background checks.
But then when push comes to shove and people actually start writing legislation, I think there is far from any guarantee that he'll stick to that.
SESAY: Yes. And this talk about arming teachers, it has many educators -- I mean you're an educator, I mean how far do you go, you know what I mean? Would you carry a gun in the classroom?
LEVINSON: You know, I mean this -- today in the classroom, my students watched me almost kill myself by trying to use the projector. So no, I do not want to be armed. And I do not want to be in a situation where I'm the only armed person in the room because if someone -- if an active shooter comes into my classroom and they know that the professor might be armed, who are they --
LEVINSON: -- and at that point I'm of no use or protection to my students. Whereas if I'm not the first target then I can try and push a panic button, get them into a safe place.
So I mean there have been a lot of jokes on social media going around like my teacher didn't even know how to use the chalkboard correctly, should we really put a gun in her hands.
But the truth is from a policy perspective, from a practical perspective, this is such a backwards way of looking at the problem. And that is because the Supreme Court has looked at this problem through basically an Alice in Wonderland-like looking glass where they have said, we need to protect the rights of individual gun owners.
But they haven't talked about protecting the rest of us from being safe from guns. And they have not weighed the other liberty interests at stake.
And I think it's a failing of the judicial branch and also a failing of the legislative branch.
SESAY: And to that point you make is you spell out it's the right to bear arms but what about your right to live, you know, your right to life. I mean it's that -- that challenge which I don't see being taken up in any substantive way.
LEVINSON: Well, if you read the cases that helped define the Second Amendment and what we've said in America, what the Supreme Court has said is that we're protecting the rights of individual gun owners.
But there have been very powerful dissent, most prominently by a Supreme Court justice who just retired, John Paul Stevens and he said what about the rest of us. You do what you want to do in your home. The head of the household gets to make the determination that in our home we decide the benefits outweigh the harms then you should own a gun.
But once you walk outside your front door, then you need to weigh my right to liberty. And you need to weigh my safety. And so if the composition of the court changes there is great theory and reasoning that it's just waiting for us, and it would allow us to create a great deal of common sense legislation. But the court needs to change its composition or change its minds.
SESAY: Jessica Levinson -- it's always such a pleasure. Thank you for --
LEVINSON: I wish I had something more helpful to say but --
SESAY: No, it's ok. We can handle the truth around here. Thank you. We appreciate it.
All right. Moving now to Nigeria and that country dealing with another mass abduction and it seems eerily similar to the Chibok schoolgirls' kidnapping four years ago.
The government believes Boko Haram militants raided the school in Dapchi last Monday and took more than a hundred girls. President Muhammadu Buhari has apologized calling this a national disaster. But he's facing angry accusations that he can't keep people in the northeast safe.
Bukky Shonibare is a member of Bring Back Our Girls. She joins me now from Abuja, Nigeria. Bukky -- good to have you on the show.
Many of us are in shock that once again we are discussing the disappearance of dozens of school girls. Talk to me about the similarities you see between what happened in Dapchi last Monday and we'll play that in Chibok in 2014.
BUKKY SHONIBARE, BRING BACK OUR GIRLS: Thank you for having me.
[00:24:59] What happened in Chibok on April 14, 2014 in comparison to what happened in Dapchi on February 19 -- they are so similar. It's the fact that this is happening in a northeast community.
Now by northeast community, it puts on the table the fact this has been a community that has been ravaged by Boko Haram. Boko Haram has been against western education. Boko Haram has been against girls' education.
Now when you look at that, that it is happening in a northeast bound state, the same way with Chibok and Dapchi that is one similarity. Another is the fact that this is a boarding school. That means there is concentration of soft targets. There is concentration of young girls which Boko Haram is openly against.
This is also happening in the Nile (ph). Now that tells also that there has to be something that leads to security and safety of schools especially boarding schools in the Nile. And then when you look at that and then now come down to the disaster that shouldn't have happened and haven't happened we also find similarities even in the West Coast mechanism (ph). The West Coast has to face denial that there was abduction and then lies that girls have been molested and only for a few. Just the same kind that happened in the Chibok girls' issue is what we are seeing right now.
SESAY: So Bukky to that point of the office of the Yobe governor saying that the girls had been rescued and then backtracking and saying it was erroneous, the statement that was put out. Was that to your mind a deliberate attempt to confuse this situation?
SHONIBARE: That is definitely a deliberate attempt to confuse the situation. Because if you compare that to the issue of the Chibok girls, the government at the time headed by Alex (ph) but they came out then to say they had been misled by the local intelligence that they got. The same script is playing out right now. Now when you come out to say girls that have been missing have now
been found and even extending it to saying that communities in Dapchi (INAUDIBLE) to celebrate. Now when you look at that it is definitely to confuse people to say that the girls that we think were missing are actually back.
So not just the confusion but the intentionality in misleading people and shifting attention, they (INAUDIBLE) on the issue that girls have been abducted and it shouldn't have happened and efforts there be made to make sure they are got back and we don't have to face the four-year going on as it relates to -- as it, you know, compared to that of Chibok.
SESAY: The Chibok girls.
How are the families of the Dapchi girls doing? What are we hearing? I mean it's one thing to hear that your child has gone missing. Another to hear that your child has been rescued and then to be told we got it wrong. How are they doing?
SHONIBARE: One can only imagine, imagine what exactly is going on with the parents of the Dapchi girls. And when you look at that, in comparison to that of the Chibok girls, it brings home a memory to these parents that this is not something that they want to go through. This is not the kind of thing that they want to go through.
The Dapchi parents, of course, don't want to have some of them dying out of heart attack or out of heart problems or out of suspicion (ph). They are all trying. They are all wishing that these are -- imagine getting the news that your children were part of the children that did not make it back that particular night.
So it brings back a memory that no one wants to deal with, a nation doesn't want to deal with. We've gone through a very harrowing experience as it relates to that of Chibok which we are still going through. In 46 days' time, it will be four years since the Chibok girls were abducted.
So for the parents if you're just comparing it to that of Chibok and wishing that they don't have to go through that.
SESAY: Bukky -- I'm almost out of time but let me ask you this very pointed question because I think it's an important one.
If these hundred girls -- 110 to be precise from Dapchi were the children of wealthy Nigerians sitting in Lagos or Abuja, would the government's response have been different? Yes or no?
SHONIBARE: The government response would definitely have been different aside from the fact that they would not have had their children to go through such a school. If a child of a president or a governor is in such a school, you can only imagine the kind of fortification of security that would be provided and find that it had happened.
[00:29:55] I want to compare it also to the response made when one of the -- when the son of the president actually had an accident, every one was talking about it, even the doctors took pictures to show that they were the ones that healed him.
So definitely, in this children, where children are the high and mighty in this society, we would not even have that abduction in the first place and if that had happened, they would have put us (INAUDIBLE) to make sure that these children are brought back.
Their crime seems to be that they are poor. That seems to be their crime.
SESAY: Yes. Bukky Shonibare, always appreciate you. I appreciate your effort and your voice in all of this. I want to take a moment to invite the Nigerian government to joins us on the show in the hours ahead, the days ahead, to tell us what they're doing to find the Dapchi girls. The families deserve to know what is happening to find their kids.
The world is (INAUDIBLE).
Bukky, I thank you.
SHONIBARE: Thank you, Isha.
SESAY: We're going to take a very quick break here on NEWSROOM L.A. The U.K. puts charities on notice, calling the Oxfam sexual abuse scandal a wakeup call.
SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:
SESAY: Now Britain's aid minister says the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked Oxfam and other groups are a wakeup call for all aid agencies. (INAUDIBLE) spoke at a development conference in London on Monday after yet another charity got caught up in a scandal. Erin McLaughlin has the details.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the charity tasked with finding landmines before children do. Saving lives in war-torn countries around the world, supported by Princess Diana and Prince Harry.
HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES: My mother had been shocked and abhorred by the impact that landmines were having on incredibly vulnerable people.
MCLAUGHLIN: The Mines Advisory Group or MAG now marred by sexual exploitation allegations. On Sunday --
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): -- a former employee revealed claims of abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo, writing anonymously for the "Sunday Times," "Some staff use prostitutes, some had parties with them, others formed relationships with the local women."
The whistleblower went on to write, "I and others raised the alarm through proper channels. Some individuals were moved to other country programs, others stayed, but I was always surprise that more was not done to stop this behavior. Here is why. Nobody wants to write about this and be responsible for funding being cut."
MAG responded to the allegations saying they've investigated what they described as 11 safeguarding issues over the past 10 years not detailing what that means but noting that several employees were fired or resigned.
Two cases were unsubstantiated. The incidents reported to British authorities. MAG went on to say in its statement, "We massively regret that things have happened within our organization," adding that it's taken measures to guard against future incidents.
The account echoes the Oxfam scandal now accused of covering up sex parties in Haiti in 2011. The charity apologized but denied allegations of a coverup. Oxfam Haiti operation suspended because of the scandal.
The scandal, which triggered a wave of allegations of sexual abuse with other organizations, including Children's Charity Plan International, last week confirmed six cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by staff or associates and apologized.
The International Committee of the Red Cross which admitted since 2015, 21 staffs have been dismissed or resigned for paying for sexual services.
MCLAUGHLIN: Across this sector, there is this growing acknowledgment that this problem is systemic, important lifesaving work is at risk and donations are down. Now at conferences such as this one trying to figure out what to do about it.
TAMSYN BARTON, BOND CEO: This is about the root causes and about power imbalances that do go very deep, which is why we do have to take action in terms of cultural issues. They are very practical and immediate steps that we can take.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Steps may include a global registry for aid workers so that badly needed aid continues to reach the world's most vulnerable, while making sure they are no longer exploited by those sent to help -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.
SESAY: There is clearly a lot of work still to be done. We're going to take a very quick break. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
It's been a transformative year for Hollywood on and off the screen and with the Academy Awards on Sunday, CNN is highlighting creators, our series about the changing entertainment industry and the inspiration behind the stories that move us.
One of Hollywood's best known creators is George Clooney, actor, director and activist. He spoke with CNN about how his childhood influenced his career.
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR, DIRECTOR AND ACTIVIST: I didn't really think about acting when I was a kid.
CLOONEY: We didn't have a lot of money. My mom made my clothes for me and things. So there was understanding, though, that we never felt poor and we felt as if we were very lucky. And we felt as if that luck should be shared with people who weren't as lucky.
There was always the idea that we have to participate in other people's lives and that teaches you not just about storytelling in general but kind of how you want to carry on with your life as you go forward.
My father was an anchorman and before that he had a variety show called "The Nick Clooney Show."
NICK CLOONEY, TV PERSONALITY: Great to have them here, Rosemary and Betty Clooney.
CLOONEY (voice-over): And I would play characters on the show because they had this old wardrobe. It was live TV and so I was 9 years old and my dad would put me in a leprechaun outfit and give me a cigar and sit me on a chair and he'd interview me as St. Patrick. And I'd be like, "Yes, it's a big holiday for us."
But that never felt like acting. That just felt like playing. My cousin, Miguel Ferrer, who was a wonderful actor, came to visit. I didn't really know him all that well. And his father was an actor named Jose Ferrer, he was an Oscar winner. They came to Kentucky to do a movie and I went down to hang out with them because I was excited to be around them. And at the end of the movie, my cousin, Miguel, said, you ought to come to California and be an actor. And I look at him.
So that is sort of how it happened, just really by accident in a way. I was cutting tobacco at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLOONEY: OK, cut.
CLOONEY (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE). And you really do get the sense -- when you say, "Wrap," at the end of the shoot it's like you're saying goodbye to a family. And a lot of them you'll see again and some of them you won't.
There is this great sense of camaraderie and I think anyone who has retired from acting, filmmaking, if they -- if you ask them, they would say the same thing, which is that is what you miss the most, is walking onto the set, going over to the craft service table and seeing the gang that you worked with for such a long time.
That's the part that draws me, keeps bringing you back, I think.
I've been given this toybox to play with. And in this toybox, I get to use all the elements, writers and directors and crew members and everything. And I get to play with it. And anyone who knows anything about the history of filmmaking knows that they take those -- that toybox away at some point.
So while they're letting me still play in it, I'm going to keep pushing the envelope and doing things that aren't easily made.
SESAY: Be sure to join John Vause and me immediately after the Academy Awards for our Oscar special. We'll also be live at the governors' ball and bring you the latest star-studded reactions to Hollywood's biggest night. We might even put John in a tux.
That's Monday at 1:00 pm in Hong Kong, 5:00 am in London. It will worth the watch.
And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay tuned for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.