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'Parks and Recreation' Has a Nobel Peace Prize Connection

Retta Parks and Recreation Headshot - P 2011
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the aunt of Retta, who plays Donna on the NBC show.

You wouldn’t think that the Nobel Peace Prize and NBC’s quirky comedy Parks and Recreation have much in common. Sure, maybe the main character, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) would love a Nobel Peace Prize someday, but that’s about as close as these two things could expectedly get.

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Actually, it turns out there is a close connection between one of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners and a member of the Parks and Recreation family.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a relative of Retta Sirleaf, who plays Donna, the smart-talking Mercedes-driving Parks and Recreation staff member. Sirleaf is Retta’s dad’s cousin by marriage. President Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the honor for her work on women’s rights.

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Retta, who goes by just her first name in her acting career, told The Hollywood Reporter that she does not know the Liberian President personally, but “of course I claim her because all the Sirleafs are family,” she said.

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“I heard the news this morning from a friend in Italy who said ‘Looks like your aunt has taken over the role as the most famous in the Sirleaf clan,’” Retta said. “To which I replied ‘Yeah, now I gotta go find some drowning babies to save before the next family reunion,'” she joked.

Parks and Recreation is currently airing its fourth season on NBC. Along with Poehler and Retta, it stars Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe and Adam Scott.