This is a guest post by Guide to Career Education’s Joseph Gustav.
Amongst all the materialism and shallowness often associated with Hollywood, amidst all the tales of stars behaving badly, there are some celebrities who are using their money to do amazing things to make the world a better place. Their projects include AIDS awareness and changing Americans’ eating habits, and they are all using their high-profile platforms to become leaders in changing the world.
• Angelina Jolie: One of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, Angelina Jolie is also a leader in providing assistance and raising awareness of the plight of refugees the world over. Starting back in 2001 with eye-opening trips to Sierra Leone and Tanzania, the Tomb Raider star has worked tirelessly as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has taken her lack of awareness and made it a mission to make others less ignorant as well, becoming a respected leader in the field.
• Oprah Winfrey: The queen of daytime talk shows has directed her humanitarian efforts toward Africa as well. Her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was constructed in South Africa and has received over $10 million from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation. She picked a specific cause — educating under-privileged and impoverished girls — and ran with it, raising awareness for her projects via television specials aired on her show. The most successful projects in any venture are ones with a narrow focus that others are ignoring; Oprah has the profile and the platforms to get hers noticed, and to encourage viewer support.
• George Clooney: One of the most recognizable stars on the planet, George Clooney devotes his humanitarian efforts to one of the most overlooked travesties of the 21st century: genocide in Darfur. Because the Sudanese government will not allow UN officials into the area, it is up to independent groups to offer assistance in the area, like the One campaign, which Clooney is spokesperson for. The best way to make change is to be committed to it, even if the obstacles seem insurmountable, such as the inability for a powerful international organization like the UN to intervene.
• Jamie Oliver: A Food Network star, Oliver has dedicated his latest TV series to changing America’s eating habits through a “Food Revolution.” Oliver visits communities around the country to help Americans eat healthier, with an emphasis on eating fresh foods over processed ones. With obesity so prevalent in the country, especially amongst its youth, Oliver’s efforts could not be timelier or more needed. Having a leader such as himself to teach people how to eat better — and cook tasty but healthy recipes — is an amazing start to actually making the food revolution happen.
• Will Ferrell: Humanitarian efforts can come from the most unlikely sources. The star of many successful gross-out, bathroom humor comedies, Anchorman Will Ferrell is the voice for Cancer for College, an organization that provides scholarships to cancer survivors. The organization was started by one of Ferrell’s fraternity brothers, and he has only strengthened his support as his celebrity has grown to further the cause and increase awareness.
• Usher: R & B superstar Usher uses his celebrity amongst urban youth to encourage them to volunteer through Powered by Service. The organization seeks to empower youth through their roles in changing some of the world’s most pressing problems, like HIV/AIDs prevention and ending gang violence, through innovative service projects. Usher’s celebrity has propelled the group to new levels, getting them coveted spots on popular programs like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
• Jamie Moyer: Celebrities do not have to nationally known to make a difference. Pitcher Jamie Moyer started his Moyer Foundation as one of the most popular players for the Seattle Mariners amongst their fanbase. Since then, the foundation has raised over $20 million to help support children during times of profound distress. $20 million may be chump change for an Oprah, but is astronomical for a celebrity of Moyer’s profile. Anyone with any kind of profile or platform can try to change the world, and make significant advances in doing so.