Today, being a positive and strong role model for young women (and men!) is extremely important for a celebrity, regardless of how they’ve become famous. With famous activists starting in the 60s to breakout celebrities jumping right into the fray, these celebrity activists are helping lead and make change in our world today.
Since her breakout role in the 1960s, Jane Fonda has used her fame for decades as a platform for other causes. In earlier years, she was vocal in her support for the Civil Rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War. She’s spoken out against sexual assault and harassment, using her own experiences as a survivor to lift others up. She’s protested for Native American rights, feminism and equality, opposition to wars (like the Iraq war), environmental change and other humanitarian conflicts.
Today, Fonda is involved in political protests on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, nicknamed Fire Drill Fridays. She has been infamously arrested “so many times I’ve lost count.” Fire Drill Fridays continuously protest against climate change and the lack of laws and political support from the government. The now 81-year-old actress doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon, which makes her the perfect role model for women of all ages and backgrounds.
An actress rarely associated with activism, Marisol Nichols is anything but. She’s worked with task forces fighting against sex trafficking, specifically as an undercover agent. Her most recent role in Riverdale launched her to household fame. Since then, she’s been working with the FBI posing as bait for predators - as a parent “pimping out” their child for sex or even playing the part of the child. In her secret line of work, she’s helped take down sex traffickers across the country. As a result, her experiences as an undercover agent are going to be made into a television show, with Nichols starring.
Jolie has been somewhat controversial, but extremely vocal, in her support of refugees and resources and aid for them. It first began when she was filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on set in Cambodia, a country hit hard by war. Since then, she’s worked as an advocate for refugees, traveling to different camps while also raising and donating money to relief efforts. Less than a year after her involvement - which included a $1 million dollar donation to UNHCR - she was named an ambassador for UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2001. She has also been notorious for visiting “forgotten emergencies”, which are various crises that media attention has shifted away from. For example, she has traveled to (and taken her children with her) to various refugee camps in the Middle East as a way of bringing media attention to the issues existing there. She’s pushed for various lawmaking bills that aid child refugees and conservation efforts in developing countries. Additionally, she’s used her experience as an at-risk breast cancer patient to bring attention to the high risk of breast cancer and the importance of its prevention. After undergoing a double mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy (the removal of breast tissue and removal of an ovary and its Fallopian tube, respectively), Jolie was interviewed in for an feature in The New York Times, which led to a global rise in preventative testing for breast cancer.
As an actress who’s been affected by the societal pressures of body perfection, Jamil is one of the most outspoken celebrities and activists when it comes to promoting a healthy and loving lifestyle. Most recently, she’s been in the media for calling out Kardashian products, which includes Kim Kardashian’s shapewear line, SKIMS, and their promotion of diet suppression products, like appetite suppressant smoothies. She’s had personal struggles with body dysmorphia and eating disorders as a way of voicing her concern over entertainment and media glorification of unattainable body images. Jamil has also voiced her concern over climate change and spoken about her admiration for environmental activists like Jane Fonda and Greta Thunberg.
Sadly, the wildly famous Hepburn passed away in 1993, but that doesn’t make the impact of her work any less important. Hepburn was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF in 1988 and was involved in other humanitarian projects. Born in Belgium, Hepburn was thrust into the growing European conflict which would lead to WWII. During that time, it’s speculated that she was pivotal in raising funds for the Dutch resistance, which was the beginning of her humanitarian efforts. Her first trip as an ambassador was to Ethiopia and Hepburn visited an orphanage full of starving children, sending food to them through UNICEF after she left the country. She also visited Turkey for an immunisation campaign, praising the country and their citizens helping in vaccinating the entire country within 10 days. After several years of her work with UNICEF, Hepburn sadly passed away but her recognition didn’t end there. President George H.W. Bush posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work among other medals and awards.
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