Celebrity activists. They clog up our news feeds with their beauty and debateable woke-ness. Who are they, and what are they doing?
If you’re reading this, you’re not reading The Atlantic. If you’re reading The New York Times, you’re not reading Entertainment Weekly. Managing news intake is a growing problem for anyone with a smartphone and a capacity to feel anxiety at the state of the world and how little they know of it. (Quick clarification: that means all of us.) Often, it’s easy to resort to choosing between hard news and soft news. Choosing to intake news (and “news”) through the filter of a charismatic talk show host or among headlines about Kim Kardashian’s exposed bra strap is popular because it is digestible and because we care about stupid things that we shouldn’t care about.
Essentially, it’s difficult to reach to both crowds, but there’s one demographic that’s found a way to do it: celebrity activists. As celebrities they’re either fabulous or struggling, and both make excellent fodder for soft news. Once a celebrity picks up a specific social issue, however, they’ve expanded their platform to hard news, where they can promote the issue — while basking in the publicity. So regardless of what type of news you consume or what your opinion is on the effectiveness and ethics of celebrity activism, you’ve read the tweets, you’ve seen the selfies and you’ve watched the commercials. There are rich and fabulous people out there trying to save the world. They’re coming from all sides.
Here are six celebrities from TV who made their voices heard via social media about issues important to them in 2016. Some of them have used their causes for personal leverage, some of them have publicized controversial opinions and some of them are fighting for change in the streets.
Mayim Bialik vs Animal Cruelty, Big Bang Theory
She’s hilarious on Big Bang Theory, she has a neuroscience degree and she wants you to go vegan. Similar to years past, Bialik partnered with PETA in promoting animal rights and veganism, primarily through social media. She even published a vegan cookbook. Read more here from the Vegetarian Times, and check out her twitter for true #vegangster status.
He’s the one with pretty eyes on Grey’s Anatomy, and he also produced a documentary about the school to prison pipeline and the Black Lives Matter movement. Williams is biracial and identifies with growing up in an economically challenged area, making his battles of choice relevant and meaningful. NPR covered his activism recently, and you can follow along on his Instagram.
Perette clearly holds some of the feisty warmth that defines her on NCIS in real life. She describes herself as an activist, and has spoken out for LGBTQ rights and specifically against Proposition 8 in California. Although engaged, she stated in 2011 that she would not get married until everyone can. She’s a Californian, so she supports a grab-bag of causes with heart and social media. Pick a social media platform — she has an account and she’s posting. Here’s a post written after she experienced a street assault in 2015.
Turner’s depiction of Sansa Stark in an abusive relationship with Ramsay Bolton started a dialogue among fans, and Turner said the feedback about abusive relationships and women’s rights propelled her to work with Women for Women International. See some of their work here, and follow Turner’s Twitter or Insta account for updates. As seen below, she’s a frequent poster of solidarity and educational content.
Her character offers a role model on Jane the Virgin and a role model in real life. Through #MovementMonday on Instagram and her We Will Foundation, she champions the cause of low-income women entering the arts. This year, she used social media to highlight a different Latino actor each week in response to the whiteness of television awards ceremonies. Read more about her foundation and use the hashtag #MovementMonday to get more of Gina.
Thandie Newton vs Poverty, Westworld
Known for participating in protests and solidarity movements across the country, Thandie Newton’s primary cause is ending violence for women and girls in DRCongo, where she has traveled for philanthropic work. She also collaborates with Eve Ensler’s global V-Day foundation for the same cause. Especially compelling, she sees her role in Westworld as furthering her activism and the power of women. Watch Westworld and decide for yo
Which of these celebs do you admire most for speaking out on issues they care about? Are there other stars we missed who’ve gotten involved in activism? Do you think TV stars can be effective advocates for causes? Are they for real, or are they for publicity? Let us know you thoughts in the comments!
(Images courtesy of ABC, Instagram and Twitter)