For the past century, celebrities have slowly been becoming a bit of an integral part of our everyday lives. While this is no doubt entertaining and interesting most of the time, it is easy to get disheartened about their motives when few of them seem to utilise their influence in productive ways. Fortunately, there are still celebrities out there that care about the world at large, it just doesn’t get covered in the media as often as other antics might be.
We’re not talking about celebrities that simply mention humanitarian, political and judicial issues on their Twitter accounts from time to time either. No, these are celebrities that have all but dedicated their careers and personal lives to improving the world we live in.
While she may be better known for being one of the most successful female poker players in history, Vanessa Selbst is also famous within the activism community. When Selbst isn’t ruling the World Series or topping off the World Poker Index, she spends her time engaging in campaigns and foundations that aim to promote equal rights and social justice.
While studying political science at Yale University, Selbst led the Queer-Straight Alliance before founding Venture Justice, which shares her poker winnings with young entrepreneurs, in 2010. Every year, this generous poker star also organises the Blinds & Justice charity tournament with the Urban Justice Centre, a foundation that helps provide legal aid to Americans who can’t afford it.
Having been inspired by U2 front man Bono to invest his time into activism, Hollywood actor George Clooney was one of the first celebrities to champion 21st-century celebrity activism. While Vanessa Selbst’s charities centre mainly around social justice, Clooney’s efforts are directed to a number of places including resolving the conflict in Dafur, the Haitian earthquake relief effort and struggling African nations.
Clooney is also well known for being the first celebrity to purchase his very own satellite after partnering with Google, Harvard University and the United Nations in an attempt to monitor the spreading violence in South Sudan. This decision was swiftly followed by the creation of Not On Our Watch, a group attempts to focus public attention on humanitarian disasters. This institution also includes Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and many more A-list celebrities.
So, we’ve got our social justice advocate and a global humanitarian, what else needs could use some support? Oh yeah, the Earth! Although the media likes to focus more on Leonardo DiCaprio’s, err, squad than any other area of his social life, the Titanic actor is actually a renowned environmental activist. At just 24-years-old, DiCaprio founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which aims to protect nature, wildlife and oceans all around the world in an attempt to slow down climate change.
Like Clooney, Dicaprio has also aided Haiti earthquake victims – just one of the many causes he has supported and gotten involved in over the last few decades. The actor’s commitment is such that The United Nations named him a U.N. Messenger of Peace focusing specifically on climate change, an honour that may well be up there with finally receiving an Oscar.
So, next time you’re feeling downhearted about the state of the celebrity world, remember that there a few out there that are truly kind, generous and care about the world that they live in, just like you.