Over the years, Hollywood actor George Clooney has utilised his celebrity profile and to raise funds and awareness for an array of worthy causes
During his 37-year career, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond star George Clooney has played many parts – heart-throb surgeon, casino thief, Batman. But his most important role may be the work he does off screen to bring about the kind of bright, optimistic world envisaged by Walt Disney way back in 1956. Clooney’s time and money increasingly go towards making a better future.
Clooney’s first high-profile act was to organise a benefit for New Yorkers in the days after 9/11 with an international concert called America: A Tribute To Heroes. Just 10 days after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, he rallied an array of A-listers to man the phone lines, taking pledges from people eager to contribute to the rescue and restoration efforts. More than 80 performers took part in the show, which was broadcast live from LA, London and New York City, and raised over $200 million.
The success of A Tribute To Heroes spurred Clooney on to throw two further benefits, one in 2004 that raised more than $5 million after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and another in 2010 when a major earthquake hit Haiti. His Hope For Haiti telethon was the most widely distributed telethon of all time and raised more than $50 million to help with rescue and rebuilding in the Caribbean country.
But there’s more to Clooney’s activism than organising telethons – after all, it takes more than throwing a few fundraisers to nab a spot on Time Magazine’s Most Influential People in the World list three years running. In 2010, Clooney accepted lifetime membership to the Council On Foreign Relations, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks free global trade and peaceful resolution to international issues.
He became interested in the Darfur conflict, and went on to film and produce a documentary called Sand and Sorrow to raise awareness. All proceeds from the film went to help refugees who had been displaced by the war and, in 2008, Clooney was appointed a UN Messenger Of Peace for his work. The same year, he co-founded the Not On Our Watch project, which works towards raising awareness of, and eventually ending, atrocities around the world.
These are pretty radical moves for a Hollywood actor to make; but even closer to home, Clooney affirmed his stance as a committed supporter of gay rights when he starred in a stage play objecting to the de-legalisation of same-sex marriage in California in 2008. Perhaps after all these good deeds it’s no surprise that Clooney’s path crossed that of human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. The two married in 2014, forming a formidable activist duo set on changing the world for the better.
Written by Kate Solomon