These stars are looking to use their fame and influence to make a real difference in the world.
Throughout her career, Jolie has made her humanitarian work a top priority, having become a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2001. The Maleficent actress has also instilled a sense of giving back in her six children, whom she shares with ex-husband Brad Pitt.
“I tell my daughters, ‘What sets you apart is what you are willing to do for others. Anyone can put on a dress and makeup. It’s your mind that will define you,’” the Salt star said in her March 2018 Elle cover story.
She continued: “Find out who you are, what you think, and what you stand for. And fight for others to have those same freedoms. A life of service is worth living.”
Reese Witherspoon, who was an active participant in the Times Up movement, created her own company, Hello Sunshine, in order to promote greater representation in Hollywood for people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and women.
“The idea is to put women at the center of the story,” Witherspoon told Vogue in January 2019. “I was sick of making movies where I was the only female lead on the set. I was sick of seeing scripts where there was one female role, badly written, and yet every actress in town wanted the part because there was nothing else.”
Witherspoon’s Little Fires Everywhere costar Kerry Washington championed the actress and her efforts for change, telling the magazine, “There is a lot of pressure in the world about who is supposed to care about politics, who is supposed to be in charge, who is supposed to be an activist. And Reese has given a very genteel, Southern, ladylike middle finger to all of it.”
The Scandal alum added: “She is going to care about who runs the country and who has power and intersectional feminism and remain the beautiful, blonde, genteel Southern woman that she is.”
Witherspoon has focused a lot of her attention on Hollywood activism while America Ferrera has used her voice to speak out about politics and commanded attention with the creation of her nonprofit, Harness.
“People make decisions every single day that impact my life — the air I breathe, my ability to walk down the street and be safe, how much money I make for the job I do, whether I can choose what happens to my body,” Ferrera told Vogue in February 2019. “And at every important social moment in our history, artists have played a role. It doesn’t have to be about marching. The art itself has a role to play. At the end of the day, it’s about wielding that sword with awareness.”
Mark Ruffalo has become vocal about eliminating hydraulic fracking and toxic chemicals in water sources, while Orlando Bloom and his fiancée, Katy Perry, have put children’s needs at the forefront of their work, both serving as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors.
Scroll down to see which celebrities have turned activists over the years — and what they’re fighting for.