Celebrity activists are becoming more common as famous faces realise they can use their power to spread a message and take a stand against the issues that concern them. Here are ten celebrity activists you will be inspired by.
1. Angelina Jolie
Without a doubt, Angelina Jolie is one of the world’s most famous celebrity activists. Angelina became involved in humanitarian work after witnessing the poor living conditions in Cambodia whilst filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2000. Since then, Angelina has made over 50 field visits and missions to some of the world’s poorest countries to offer aid and support to those in need. In 2001, she donated $1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador later that year before being promoted to the rank of Special Envoy to High Commissioner Antonio Guterres in 2012. Angelina is also passionate about human rights, child immigration and education, preventing sexual violence, and equality in all walks of life.
Halsey has stood up for a number of issues in the five years since she released her first EP. As a bisexual woman herself, Halsey has always been outspoken about issues surrounding the LGBT community, including calling out Victoria Secret in 2019 for not including transgender models in their fashion shows. Halsey also identifies as a feminist and has been vocal about her support of planned parenthood, even donating $100,000 to the organisation in 2017. Halsey followed this up by making a speech at the 2018 Women’s March about her experiences of sexual assault, and then protested in The March for Our Lives later that year.
3. Alyssa Milano
In the early 2000s, Alyssa Milano was known for saving the world as a witch on Charmed – but now she saves the world in real life through her activism. In 2007. Alyssa was named a Founding Ambassador for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases by the Sabin Vaccine Institute. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the United States of America. In 2017, Alyssa’s activism received worldwide recognition when she re-launched Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement. Since then, she has spoken at numerous events and conferences about women’s rights, focusing on the issues of sexual violence and abortion law.
4. Viola Davis
Viola Davis has been a dedicated philanthropist for many years. Since 2014, Viola has been working with the Hunger Is campaign to help eradicate childhood hunger in the United States. She attributes her passion for the project to her own childhood, as she was brought up in abject poverty. She has also stated that the reason she supports Hunger Is above other organisations is that they want to eradicate hunger – not just reduce it.
5. Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda has had a lengthy career as one of Hollywood’s celebrity activists, with her political activism dating all the way back to the 1960s. She spoke out in support of the Civil Rights Movement and campaigned against the Vietnam War, even going so far as to form an anti-war roadshow which travelled to military towns and met with troops. In 1972, Jane travelled to Hanoi to witness the damage to the land by the bombings and visiting prisoners of war. Also in 1972, Jane helped to fund and organise the Indochina Peace Campaign. Nowadays, Jane campaigns for feminist causes and is a supporter of the V-Day movement, whilst continuing to promote her anti-war message. She has also campaigned for Native Americans and environmental issues.
6. George Clooney
George Clooney has a long history of activism and advocacy, with a focus on large scale atrocities around the world. He is part of the Not On Our Watch project which focuses on preventing mass atrocities, and in 2010 he organised a telethon to raise money to help the victims and survivors of the Haiti earthquake. George is outspoken about resolving the Darfur conflict, spending 10 days in Chad and Sudan making a TV special with his father about the refugees. George is also vocal about his desire to bring recognition to the Armenian Genocide, an atrocity he feels is overlooked by society.
7. Prince Harry
Prince Harry takes great pride in his charity work. The Duke of Sussex advocates for a number of causes, such as better mental health supper with the initiative Heads Together, and support for paraplegic veterans with the Invictus Games. He has also spoken out about the important of HIV testing, even having the test himself. Currently, he and his wife, Meghan, are focusing on climate change and trying to encourage others to build a more sustainable society.
8. Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart has always been outspoken on The Daily Show about the issues in America – but one in particular has always been at the forefront. Jon is angered by the treatment of veterans in the U.S., especially the first responders who were involved in 9/11. In February and June 2019, Jon appeared in Congress to oppose the $7.375 billion limit in pay-outs to 9/11 responders through December 2020 and to lobby for permanent funding for the Victims Compensation Fund past December 2020. His emotional speech went viral on the Internet and proved how deeply Jon cares about his cause.
9. Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first celebrities to participate in HIV and AIDS activism. Elizabeth once said that her reason for becoming involved with the cause was that she hated the fame that came with her career – but upon realising she could not escape it, she decided to use that fame for good. Instead of hiding, she stood up and forced the world to take notice of the AIDS crisis. In doing so, she raised more than $270 million for the cause. Even now, years after her death, her estate continue to fund the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation that she founded in 1991.
10. Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio has one of America’s most prominent celebrity activists since his earliest days in Hollywood. In 1998, he founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a non-profit for environmental awareness. Since then, the organisation has worked on projects across the glove and produced two short documentaries. Leonardo has received numerous awards for his work, including the Martin Litton Environment Award in 2001 and the Environmental Leadership Award in 2003. In 2016, Leonardo used the speech for his Best Actor Award at the Oscars to speak out about climate change and encourage world leaders to take action. He also attended the 2017 People’s Climate March to protest U.S. government inaction on climate change.