Celebrities and the world of entertainment have always awed the common public. From what they wear to what they eat, we keep track of everything. It is what keeps us glued to their lifestyle. When we talk about celebrities, we instantly think of their style and charm and the work they do. But is that all to them? Just like the rest of us, celebrities are normal people even though we look at them from a far more superficial level.
The entertainment industry runs in billions. From short time television actors to internationally renowned celebrities, all such figures earn way more than we can fathom. But not everyone gives back to the very society who roots for them. Be it charitable organizations or a fundraiser, these 5 celebrities among many others are known worldwide for their benevolent personas.
Oprah Gail Winfrey is among the most influential people in the world. She became famous from her successful talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” which was the highest rated television show for 25 years from the time of its release in 1986 till 2011. This powerful lady is not only an American talk show host but also a producer, actress, author and philanthropist. Born in rural Mississippi, Oprah grew up to be North America’s first Black multi billionaire. Coming from a rough childhood, she was responsible for a lot of good in her community. Oprah has made millions of dollars’ worth donations to different charities and organizations but it mainly focused on three, namely The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation.
The Angel Network was popularized largely from her talk show itself. A handful number of episodes a year were dedicated to its work alone. Winfrey always quoted to her audience that 100% of any donations made would go directly towards funding a charitable project.
Exclusively handled by Winfrey, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation doesn’t take any outside donations or funds. It includes special projects of Winfrey’s interest like education, uplifting backward communities and leadership development.
Launched in 2007, The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation focused mainly on the Leadership Academy For Girls in South Africa project. Some of her notable charities are towards Mississippi Animal Rescue League, Clinton Foundation, Project Cuddle, V-day, World Food Program etc. Even her will states a massive donation of 1 billion dollars to charity.
Joanne Rowling, otherwise known as her pen name JK Rowling is the author of the best-selling book series in entire history, Harry Potter. In 1990, on a delayed train ride from Manchester to London she thought of the fantasy Harry Potter Series for the very first time. Back then she didn’t know what a huge success it was going to be. The first book of the series was published in 1997. Rowling faced multiple personal events in the 7-year gap before her first book. Now even in 2020, kids and teenagers alike huddle up to read the about this fictional hero. The series won numerous awards for its imaginative storyline and is available in 200 countries in over 60 languages.
She was listed as the world’s first billionaire author by Forbes but Rowling immediately refuted the statement saying she’s not a billionaire. In 2011, she donated 16% of her net worth to charities losing the billionaire status. Rowling has raised over 30 million euros for charities by authoring the following three books: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, “Quidditch through the ages” and “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”.
As someone who has lived a “rags to riches” life, she made it a point to give back to the underprivileged. Her own charitable organizations are Lumos and Volant. Lumos is a nonprofit organization that aids orphaned children in disturbed times to find their families and if not, provide them with a nurturing home. Until now, Lumos has been successful in reuniting more than 111 children with their families.
Volant Charitable Trust is another organization funded by Rowling that donates to other trusts and fundraisers like Disasters Emergency Committee, Save the Children and Christian Aid during times of needs. Outside these two, she also donates and supports 14 other charitable organizations like Book Aid International, Dyslexia Action, Heaven foundation, Women’s fund for Scotland etc.
Sir Elton John
Born as Reginald Kenneth Dwight, Sir Elton John is a widely renowned English singer, songwriter, pianist and composer. Some of his greatest hits are Candle in the wind, Can you feel the love tonight, Goodbye yellow brick road etc. Lyricist Bernie Taupin and John collaborated on more than 30 albums which sold over 300 million records worldwide making him the bestselling music artists of all time. He received multiple accolades including five Grammy Awards, five Brit awards, two Academy Awards and such for his songs throughout the years of 1962 onwards. He was also knighted by the Queen Elizabeth second for his services to music and charitable services in 1988.
In the late 1980s, John was diagnosed with the silent killer AIDS. He also witnessed many of his dear friends losing to this disease which led him to establish the Elton john AIDS foundation. This foundation is a nonprofit that particularly aims in preventing infections, fighting stigma and providing treatment with utmost care and compassion to the vulnerable groups.
Other than his own foundation, Sir Elton john has donated to over 62 other charities and support causes. Some of them are AIDS LIFE, American foundation for AIDS Research, Breast cancer research foundation, children’s tumor foundation, Save the children etc. He is also responsible for holding huge fundraisers in the entertainment industry. The annual Academy Awards party, hosted by Sir Elton himself is one among the biggest high profile Oscar parties. This foundation alone has raised over 300 million euros since its launch. The proceedings of the same go to various support groups, causes and charities.
In the world of entertainment, there might only be a handful few who don’t know the iconic Meryl Streep. Born in Summit, New Jersey, Mary Louise “Meryl” Streep is the single daughter of artist Mary Wilkonsin Streep. At an early age itself she was quite known for her versatility and accents. Any character that she portrayed came to life as her. Her roles in “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “deer Hunter” gained her international appreciation. Such is the acting ability of the great Meryl Streep. She has a record nomination of twenty-one Academy Awards out of which she won three and a total of 32 Golden Globe nominations, winning eight so far.
But bagging these many accolades only seems to make her more humble. Meryl is devotedly involved in multiple charities and fundraisers. She has largely donated to the National Woman’s History museum where she is also the National Spokesperson.
Some of her other charity works are 10×10, Actors fund of America, CHIME FOR CHANGE, Equality Now, Girl Up, Healthy Child Healthy World, Stand up to cancer, Women in the world foundation etc.
Famous for his slapstick acrobatic fighting style and comic timings, Jackie Chan is the ultimate when it comes to action thriller movies. Born to refugee parents in Hong Kong, Chan was an energetic child right from the start. He trained in martial arts and acting at the China Drama academy. Jackie Chan is not only an actor but also a comedian, stuntman, screenwriter and singer. He has appeared in multiple films in different languages. He has been recognized among the most influential cinematic personalities around the world. Forbes listed him as the second highest paid actor in the world in 2016.
After his acting career skyrocketed, he started his philanthropy work. By 2006, Chan had entered the Forbes List of Most Generous celebrities of all time. He says “Every human being has to learn how to do charity”. He founded the Jackie Chan Charitable foundation in 1988 as a means for helping the underprivileged youth of Hong Kong. Various aspects such as medical services, scholarships, extracurricular activities funding and assisting the affected victims of natural disasters and diseases are covered.
The Dragons heart foundation was also founded by Jackie Chan in 2004 to provide assistance to the elderly and disabled in parts of Europe, Japan and Africa. Other than his own foundation, he has donated to various other charities and support groups such as Red cross, Action in mental health, Operation smile, Save China’s tigers, Save the Elephants etc. Chan has launched his own website called “jackiechan.com” that keeps track of all donations done under him. People who want to donate can also easily do so from this site. In 2011, he raised a whopping amount of 3.3 million dollars in under three hours for the people of japan. He is currently a UNICEF and UNAIDS goodwill ambassador.