Since Ryan Reynolds married Blake Lively in 2012 the couple has been called out numerous times for the chosen location of their glamorous nuptials: a former slave plantation known as Boone Hall.
Lately, Reynolds has been scoring praise for his various philanthropy. This has included donating a portion of online sales of his Aviation Gin to bartenders out of work because of the shutdown, which totaled more than $50,000. His cell phone company Mint Mobile recently offered a free month of data to all customers as a means of aiding those homeschooling on a budget. He and Lively donated $1 million to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada as well as $400,000 to New York Hospitals. They have also donated a million to both NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Plus, he offered $5,000 to help a Canadian woman recover a stolen memento that reminded her of her late mother. Still, the plantation wedding haunts him.
In an interview with Fast Company, Reynolds reflected on the decision to marry at the antebellum icon:
“It’s something we’ll always be deeply and unreservedly sorry for. It’s impossible to reconcile. What we saw at the time was a wedding venue on Pinterest. What we saw after was a place built upon devastating tragedy. Years ago we got married again at home—but shame works in weird ways. A giant f*cking mistake like that can either cause you to shut down or it can reframe things and move you into action. It doesn’t mean you won’t f*ck up again. But repatterning and challenging lifelong social conditioning is a job that doesn’t end.”
Both Reynolds and Lively have previously expressed regret over their first wedding’s location. As Black Lives Matters protests re-ignited following the murder of George Floyd, they took to Instagram to issue a statement. It did not directly mention the plantation wedding but did note their donation of $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. They promised to continue to educate themselves, striving to do better to use their “privilege and platform to be an ally.”
Reynolds is also applying his advocacy to his offices. His production company Maximum Effort (named after a Deadpool catchphrase) aims at diverse hiring and has a “large-scale pro bono campaign” in the works for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s get out the vote efforts. Plus, Maximum Effort has set up a training program aimed at helping those too often marginalized in filmmaking.
The Group Effort Initiative will choose 10 to 20 trainees who are BIPOC to visit the set of a Maximum Effort production, allowing them to learn on the job. According to THR, “The new recruits will be paid and housed out of Reynolds’ own salary and will spend their days on set, learning from professionals with the goal that their learning will act as a springboard to another job, creating a domino effect that places them on a path for a career in the film industry.”
Reynolds said of this Initiative:
“I’ve had a front-row seat to the immense talent of so many artisans, storytellers, and experts. Being a member of a film crew is a special experience — but that privilege hasn’t been extended to everyone. There’s a ton of untapped talent out there. This action is the right thing to do, but it’s worth noting that inclusivity will also make our industry stronger and more dynamic. We will tell better stories.”
The first production to employ the Group Effort Initiative could be Reynold’s untitled time-travel adventure, which will be helmed by Shawn Levy and produced by Netflix. Hopes are it will shoot this fall in Vancouver, provided production can be done safely.
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