KUALA LUMPUR – They are well known in the entertainment industry all over the world, have billions of fans and make billions of money from their fame.
Contrary to popular belief, not all of these celebrities use their fame and hard earned income going for luxurious, over-the-top vacations and buying things they do not need to keep up with their excessive lifestyle.
The likes of Bono, Jon Bon Jovi, Emma Watson, Angelina Jolie and Usher have bigger and more meaningful causes to spend their wealth and popularity on: helping other people.
Here is the list of 10 celebrities that are also active humanitarians (in no particular order):
Dubbed the most politically effective celebrity by National Journal, a weekly politics magazine for Washington insiders is also the front man for undoubtedly the most successful rock band in the world, U2.
Among his well-known efforts are the Live 8 benefit concerts in collaboration with another rock star philanthropist Bob Geldof, campaigns for third-world debt relief and for raising awareness of the plight of Africa. Bono is also the co-founder for Product Red, a licensed brand that seeks to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa. A percentage from the sales of products tagged Product Red goes to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
2. Jon Bon Jovi
Another rock star in the list, Jon Bon Jovi is the front man for Bon Jovi. In 2006, the singer established a foundation, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation to combat issues that force families into poverty and despair.
Among the foundationâ€™s most notable charity works is JBJ Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant where patrons pay what they can afford for their meal, either with money or by volunteering work. The foundation has also donated millions of dollars to efforts and programmes aimed at breaking the poverty cycle and homelessness.
3. Angelina Jolie
Famously known for her role as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider and also her high-profile relationship with Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie has so much more to offer. She was named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 2011, going on field missions around the world to meet with refugees and internally displaced individuals in her relentless efforts to promote humanitarian causes and raise global awareness on the plight of refugees.
Angelina has also started Asiaâ€™s first Millennium Village (other villages are mostly located in the Sub-Saharan region) in accordance with the UN development goals. The Millennium Villages is an approach to end extreme poverty and to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals of the UN- eight global targets that address the problems of poverty, health, gender equality, and disease.
4. Emma Watson
Popularly known as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, the actress is also an active proponent of womenâ€™s rights. She has traveled to countries such as Bangladesh and Zambia to promote education for girls.
In July 2014, the actress was appointed the UN Goodwill Ambassador and helped launched a UN women campaign, HeforShe, a campaign to inspire men to advocate gender equality.
5. Matt Damon
Clearly, Matt Damon, named as the Sexiest Man Alive by the People Magazine, has much more to offer. The actor lends his support to several non-profit and charity organisations such as the ONE Campaign fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases particularly in Africa, H20 Foundation, which he founded to raise awareness on clean water initiatives in Africa, Feeding America, a network of food banks to fight hunger in America and Water.org that provides aids to regions that do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
He also co-founded Not On Our Watch Project with fellow actors George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Don Cheadle together with American film producer Jeffry Wintraub and lawyer David Pressman. The project brings global attention to human rights violations in Darfur and other countries.
6. George Clooney
The star of the Oceanâ€™s trilogy and scores of many other movies is also an activist. George Clooney has served as the UNâ€™s Messenger of Peace, alongside fellow actor Michael Douglas and conservationist Jane Goodall, since 2008. The worldâ€™s body bestows the title to individuals selected from the fields of art, music, literature and sports, who have agreed to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the United Nations.
George Clooney is also highly involved in several charity works such as in raising funds for the victims of the massive earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, 2004 tsunami and also victims of the 9/11 tragedy. He has also produced Sand and Sorrow that sought to highlight international crises.
7. Yusuf Islam
Before his conversion to Islam, Yusuf Islam or Cat Steven was a successful singer with albums certified as triple platinum in the United States. After he converted, Yusuf auctioned all his guitars for charity and focused on charity works in the Muslim community.
He has been awarded with the World Social Award for his works in helping children and victims of war, the Man of Peace Award for promoting peace, the reconciliation of people and condemning terrorism, received an honorary doctorate for his works in improving understanding between Islamic and Western cultures, among others.
8. Alicia Keys
The award winning singer, who has also acted and appeared in several movies and TV series, has co-founded Keep A Child Alive initiative that brings treatment, care and support to children and families affected by HIV.
The talented singer has also lend her support in causes such as donating to Frum tha Ground Up, a non-profit organisation that aids children and teenagers with scholarships, has traveled to Uganda, South Africa and Kenya in her cause to promote care for children affected by AIDS. This is in addition to many other benefit concerts and programmes that she participated in such as the Live 8 concerts, Live Earth concerts and ReACT Now: Music and Relief and Shelter From The Storm: A Concert For The Gulf Coast, both organised to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Dubbed as one of the best selling artists in the American music history, selling more than 65 million copies worldwide, Usher founded New Look, an initiative that recognises the need for positive role models and mentors for disadvantaged children and adolescents.
The singer started the initiative when he was just 20 years old with his motherâ€™s assistance. The organisation started a project in 2006 called Our Block that sought to rebuild and revitalize city blocks in New Orleans.
10. Dolly Parton
The most honoured female country performer of all time with strings of pop hits such as I Will Always Love You, the original version of the one made by Whitney Houston, Islands In The Stream, a duet with another country star, Kenny Rogers and 9 To 5, established the Dollywood Foundation to oversee her literacy initiative, Imagination Library.
Imagination Library is a free childrenâ€™s book distribution started by the singer in 1996. Through this programme, each enrolled child will receive one book every month from birth until he enters kindergarten. This programme is widely spread across the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. – BERNAMA