Whether we like it or not, celebrities have power. Their voices carry farther than most people’s. Their opinions may not be more important, but they at least have the ability to reach a wide audience. Remember when Aaron Paul mentioned his wife’s nonprofit during the Emmy’s and the site crashed? Same with Emma Watson and the UN. So get all of your “what did they do to deserve this?” and your “stick to pretending for a living” out of your system and resign yourself to the fact that celebrities can spark change and influence people. So it’s great to see those who use their powers for good, instead of anti-vaxxer, bigoted garbage. Here are 9 celebrities you may not have known were secret philanthropists. All of these people went beyond mere donations and PSAs to do some surprisingly impressive work.
Amy Poehler talked in her book, Yes Please, about the work she’s done as Ambassador of Arts for Worldwide Orphans. She also says that “nonprofits should guarantee that giving your time and money makes your skin better and your ass smaller.”
Keanu Reeves — Over the course of Keanu Reeves’ sister’s battle with cancer, Keanu has given millions of dollars to her hospital to help the advance leukemia research. He’s also given away millions of dollars in cash and gifts to crew members on his films (even paying off $20,000 in student debt for a builder on one of his sets). As Reeves has said himself, “Money is the last thing I think about. I could live on what I’ve already made for the next few centuries.”
Meryl Streep’s million-dollar foundation, the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts, is barely Googlable, despite the fact that she’s been running it for decades.
Matthew McConaughey has a foundation that helps kids stay active and healthy. It also happens to have the perfect McConaughey name: The Just Keep Livin’ Foundation
Leonardo DiCaprio apparently wanted a foundation so badly he didn’t even take the time to think up a clever name. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation works towards environmental conservation.
Michael J. Fox launched the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000 for obvious reasons. It’s now the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s drug development.
Oprah. Duh, Oprah is on this list. She used $36 million of her own money to launch the the Oprah Winfrey Foundation. Among other things, the foundation supports the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.
Jackie Chan. It’s surprising Jackie Chan has time to make movies, what with all his philanthropic work. He’s tied to hundreds of charities, ranging from wildlife support to disaster relief to providing sweaters for the elderly.
Jessica Simpson has been an ambassador with Operation Smile since 2003. She not only raises money and “performs” (what does that mean? What does she do again?), but she’s participated in medical mission teams in Kenya. Hopefully that only means she was allowed to watch.