Photo courtesy of Paul Dinkwater (NBC)
About a month ago, actress Meryl Streep made headlines for the scathing speech she gave in response to receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes ceremony. Well, some would call it scathing. To others, it was genius. Whatever the range of reactions it invoked, its message was clear: in a country governed by Donald Trump and his administration, the power of the arts and a free press are more important than ever.
I say, go Meryl. It’s hard to hate on Meryl Streep. And she’s right— good filmmaking and a free press should be celebrated. But beyond the content of her speech specifically, I’m all for celebrities using their platforms to champion the causes in which they believe, political or otherwise. After all, listening to award recipients thank their mothers and spouses speech after speech can get a little monotonous. At least Streep made things interesting.
Still, talk without action is empty. So I decided to take this post to highlight a few of my favorite celebs’ and their activism: a celebration of people who like to make lovely things and also to spread a little good throughout the world. We could all use a little reminder of good in the world, I think.
Emma Watson: Ever since Watson first exercised her acting chops as quick-witted Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series, she’s made it clear that she values equal treatment among men and women. In the past couple years, she’s taken that passion to the next level, helping to launch the #HeForShe campaign, speaking in front of the United Nations, and starting a book club called Our Shared Shelf, which is meant to highlight a work of feminist literature each month.
Ingrid Michaelson: Indie-pop star Michaelson, who first rose to fame with 2007’s folksy hit “The Way I Am,” recently released an album titled It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense. She also recently launched the Use Your Heart Tee, a shirt featuring a unique heart print. Its proceeds benefit the Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing suicides among LGBTQ+ teens.
Gina Rodriguez: The actress has twice been nominated for a Golden Globe, winning once, for her portrayal of Jane Villanueva on the popular CW show Jane the Virgin. Recently she started the #movementMondays hashtag on her Instagram account, dedicating one post weekly to showcasing fellow minority members of Hollywood.
Ian Somerhalder- The television heartthrob, most known for his roles on Lost and The Vampire Diaries, started a nonprofit called the Ian Somerhalder Foundation in 2010. Alongside wife Nikki Reed, Somerhalder and his foundation work to promote environmental conservation and sustainable energy development. Plus, his Instagram feed often features cute animal pictures.
These are only four of seemingly countless celebrity activists and outlets you can align yourself with. I know not everyone wants to hear a politically-charged speech at an award show or any celebrity, really, actively promoting a cause outside of their immediate career. I get that. I, however, genuinely appreciate and admire those artists who do so passionately voice their opinions and urge others to do the same. It reminds me that I have a voice, too, even if mine reaches a much smaller audience. It reminds me of the power artists hold every time they pick up a pen, a brush, or a camera, or simply open their mouths to speak or to sing.
Most of all, it reminds me of one of America’s most beautiful privileges: freedom of speech. One need not be a politician to speak politically. Heck, one need not even be as famous as Meryl Streep. One need only be a concerned citizen with any passion and platform of their own.
So, go forth. Be brave. I’m going to try. You can, too.