Just because award season is behind us, it doesn’t mean we can’t have our own fun. In honor of National Women’s History Month, I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorite female celebrities doing good things. My nominees include some big time givers and some up and comers, but I can’t cover them all, so please add your own to this list!
Also, if your People Magazine or US Weekly just isn’t telling you enough about the good work your favorite celebrities are doing, check out Look to the Stars, a website that covers all the latest and greatest in celebrity giving. Most Wiki profiles also do a good job at covering philanthropic work.
And now… My nominees for the most charitable ladies on the red carpet ARE…
- Reese Witherspoon
- Alicia Keys
- Natalie Portman
- Angelina Jolie
- Scarlett Johansson
- Jessica Biel
- Keira Knightley
- Oprah Winfrey
- Rosie O’Donnell
- Barbara Streisand
This was a fun post to write, but I couldn’t have done it without my friends on Twitter and elsewhere, so thanks for your suggestions! And for the rest of you, now that I’ve told you some of my favorite celebrity do-gooders, it’s time for you to tell me yours!
She’s beautiful, she’s talented, she’s dating Jake Gyllenhaal… and she’s giving back. What more could you ask for? Between her work with the Children’s Defense Fund and as the Honorary Chairwoman of the Avon Foundation, Reese is definitely someone to look up to. I love her willingness to get out on the streets as the face of a campaign, and I look forward to seeing great charitable things from Reese in the future.
I’m a huge fan of Alicia Key’s Keep a Child Alive campaign. She is the co-founder and Global Ambassador of the charity, which is dedicated to providing care and support services to children and their families with HIV/AIDS in Africa and the developing world. One of my favorite things about this charity: their innovative use of mobile giving both online and at Alicia’s concerts. Love it! To learn more about her work and travels to Africa, check out the documentary Alicia in Africa: Journey to the Motherland.
When it comes to animal rights, Natalie Portman literally walks the talk. When handed gorgeous leather clothing and shoes, Natalie says, no thank you. “All of my shoes are from Target and Stella McCartney, who does all non-leather products,” says the actress. Natalie even launched her own line of vegan shoes and donates 100% of the proceeds to the Nature Conservancy. Beyond her choice of shoes, Natalie is a never-tiring advocate of animal rights and a supporter of PETA. Natalie is also a strong supporter of antipoverty activities and was named an Ambassador of Hope for FINCA International, an organization that strives to provide financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living.
If you have so much as turned on the TV or opened one magazine in the last three years, you are familiar with Angelina, her family and her charity work. Angelina, in many ways, has raised the bar in Hollywood when it comes to philanthropy and I think that is a beautiful thing. In the last 10 years, Angelina has traveled the world, visited countless Refugee camps, donated millions of dollars, and adopted three children. She is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, was a recipient of the Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association and was awarded the Global Humanitarian Award by the UNA-USA. For more information about Angelina’s work, read her journals. And that’s only the beginning…
Young, incredibly famous, and newly married, Scarlett is already showing her dedication to charitable causes. Johansson is a Global Ambassador to Oxfam, an anti-poverty coalition and also works as an ambassador to the global AIDS campaign, RED. In 2008, Scarlett auctioned herself off for a date to raise money for Oxfam, and she has even auctioned off a snotty tissue for charity. Interesting tactics from this leading lady, but hey, whatever works, right?
Jessica Biel has always seemed like one of the more “down to earth” celebs out there. She’s always seen without makeup, and I love how she and Justin maintain as low a profile as they can. But, the real reason I think she’s a solid person? Her charity work. In 2007, Jessica co-founded the Make the Difference Network, a cause-oriented social network that connects nonprofit organizations with potential donors and increases awareness for small-to-medium nonprofits. Check out Jessica’s MTDN profile and take a minute to fulfill the wish of a non-profit you care about.
Keira, in my mind, is one of the most intense and talented young actresses on the Hollywood scene. She is quickly rising to the top, but there is no doubt that she is using her celebrity status for good. In 2008, Keira became the new face of a campaign by human rights charity Amnesty International, marking the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Beyond being the pretty face of the campaign, Knightley also made a short film to help raise awareness of the UDHR and human rights abuses. We’ve also seen Keira do fun things for charity, like donate a dress and even contribute her voice to a movie. Here’s to hoping there are many more good things to come from this bright star.
I can’t write a blog post about philanthropy without talking about Oprah Winfrey. Oprah’s Angel Network has raised more than $80 million in donations from the public since its inception. The charity uses donations to “award grants to organizations around the world that are improving access to education, protecting basic rights, creating communities of support and developing the leaders of tomorrow.” Beyond her Angel Network, we have seen Oprah personally give away huge amounts of her own money, and in 2005, she became the first black person listed by Business Week as one of America’s top 50 most generous philanthropists. With her own show and shows like the Big Give, Oprah has done wonderful things to make giving public, popular, and fun.
She’s hysterical… and charitable. According to The Giving Back Fund, Rosie O’Donnell gave $5.7 million dollars to a variety of causes in 2006, many focused on Katrina Relief efforts. Rosie also founded the For All Kids Foundation, a non-profit charity that is committed to helping kids born into poverty through the construction of childcare centers, funding, grants, and other projects. One of my favorite fun facts about Rosie? According to Wikipedia, apparently she donated $50 million of a five year contract in an irrevocable trust to charity. Impressive.
In 2008, ABC News named Barbara Streisand as the third most generous celebrity in the second annual list of the biggest humanitarians gathered by the Giving Back Fund. The Streisand Foundation, founded in 1986, “has made grants totaling nearly $15 million to national organizations working on preservation of the environment, voter education, the protection of civil liberties and civil rights, women’s issues and nuclear disarmament.” Barbara Streisand is a role model for aspiring actresses and do-gooders everywhere.