Hollywood Opens Its Wallet for People and Planet

Meet celebrities recently in the news who use their giant paychecks for good.

It’s Kim Kardashian’s world, we’re just living in it. Or so it would seem by the intense media onslaught covering the reality starlet’s $10 million wedding and subsequent divorce a mere 72 day later. A wedding her family is rumored to have been gifted despite collecting a $65 million fortune from their reality shows. But stay with me, I’m not here to wring my hands over Hollywood’s abundant cash flow but rather to call out the do-gooders of Tinsel Town.

There are many celebrities who use their fame and fortune for causes outside of having a hair stylist on call 24 hours a day. In fact, here are seven who have made recent headlines doing positive things for both population and planet.

Robert Pattinson builds a school for girls in Cambodia
Perhaps we all know Robert Pattinson best from his role as Reese Witherspoon’s grown-up son in 2004’s “Vanity Fair.” He also stole hearts as the doomed yet dashing Cedric Diggory in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” It’s possible he may have been in a vampire movie or two since then, I’m not sure.

Nonetheless, a family in Chicago recently paid $80,000 to meet with this little-known character actor. (Just kidding, I know he’s an attractive vampire.) And what did the dreamboat of a million sparkling dreams do with the money? Pattinson donated 100% of the proceeds to the Go Campaign, which is being used to build a home for PAGE (Program Advancing Girls Education) to educate teen girls in Cambodia. Pattinson is also donating a November private screening of “Breaking Dawn” in Los Angeles, where all proceeds will go to the Go Campaign.

Ashley Judd fights for family planning
This Kentucky-raised actress is well known for her good deeds. Among her acts of advocacy, Judd is a Global Ambassador for Population Services International (PSI), a leading global health organization dedicated to children’s health around the globe. Recently, on World Population Day, she sent out a call to arms in the fight for population control.

“As a woman, I believe it is essential to welcome men into the conversation,” she wrote for PSI. “According to World Health Organization statistics, approximately 1,000 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.”

Russell Simmons advocates for marriage equality
The co-founder of Def Jam Records thinks that marriage is a human right for all people and made sure the state of New York knew it. Last June, same-sex couples were granted the right to marry in the Granite State in part because of the substantial support the movement received from the public. Simmons, a prominent New Yorker, made a video in support of marriage equality for the Human Rights Campaign. It played in taxi cabs all over New York City before the historic vote. In April, Simmons also received an Excellence in Media Award from GLAAD  (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

Ryan Seacrest uses his voice to help others
Yes, Ryan Seacrest of American Idol fame is actually an executive producer of the reality machine that is “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” At least the reality mogul is using some of his money for a good cause. His non-profit, The Ryan Seacrest Foundation, is building broadcast media booths called The Voice in pediatric hospitals across the nation. Sick children are able to host radio shows and broadcast on closed circuit television, as well as blog from the centers.

The first Voice was launched at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, and Seacrest recently opened a second booth at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Moms will come up to me and say ‘My kid hasn’t gotten out of bed for weeks and for this today, they have.’ That means the world to me,” Seacrest recently told ABC 6 of Philadelphia. His goal is to bring more Voice booths to other hospitals across the nation.

Barry Manilow helps Joplin sing
Barry Manilow is known for writing the ballads and jazz songs of our childhood recitals. But did you know the legendary crooner recently donated $300,000 worth of instruments to tornado-ravaged schools in Joplin, Missouri? On May 22, 2011, a tornado destroyed much of Joplin, taking much of the local high school with it.

As Manilow told Rueters, “I know first-hand how invaluable music can be to get you through life’s tough times. It is an honor and a privilege to help these kids after such a disaster.” He then explained to some confused students that he was the “Justin Bieber of the 1970s.” Then he schooled them that music and passion are always the fashion.

Shakira shakes up a reason to learn
Columbian-born singer Shakira is best known for her Grammy-award winning music, but she’s also an inspired philanthropist. Growing up in Columbia, the singer witnessed the suffering of area street children. This moved the artist to create The Pies Descalzos Foundation, or the Barefoot Foundation. This organization works to reveal a sustainable model of education to help children in vulnerable communities. Shakira has helped found six schools since 2003 and recently opened a U.S. branch of her foundation. To top off her good deeds, she is a global ambassador for UNICEF.

Leonardo DiCaprio tweets for tigers
DiCaprio is well-known for his green advocacy. A committed environmentalist and activist, he wrote, narrated, and co-produced “The 11th Hour,” a film highlighting the eco-impact humans are having on the planet. Recently, DiCaprio spoke out (rather, tweeted) about the tragic Ohio Tiger killings, when 18 Bengal tigers were killed by sheriffs after their suicidal owner let them free. A devoted animal rights activist, DiCaprio has already lent his support to the Save the Tigers Now campaign.

Image: dpurdy/Flickr 

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.