Fame and celebrity

Kim Kardashian, Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio ... six celebrities with the most political influence

Reality-TV star Kardashian was back in the White House this week to talk about criminal justice reform. She’s not the only celebrity using their star power for good

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 6:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 7:10pm

Kim Kardashian has made another visit to the White House to talk criminal justice.

The reality-TV star one of about 50 people, including US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who gathered to discuss the clemency process.

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Kardashian, 37, has championed criminal justice reform in recent months. Back in May she successfully appealed for the release of a great-grandmother convicted of cocaine trafficking.

Celebrities often use their power to raise awareness and push their causes – whether it’s political or environmental. Here are five other examples.

1. Cate Blanchett

Most people associate the Australian actress with the big screen, but she has another role, that of UN goodwill ambassador. And one of her best performances came last month when she gave a heart-wrenching speech on the crisis in Myanmar.

The Academy Award-winning actress spoke about the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar following the release of a UN Human Rights Council report that outlined gross human rights violations by Myanmar troops, including the murder and gang rape of Rohingya civilians.

“I am a mother, and I saw my own children in the eyes of every single refugee child that I met,” said Blanchett, who in March visited Bangladesh, where camps hold hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

2. Yao Ming

The former NBA star wears many hats but one of his biggest causes is lending his voice to campaigns to end the trade in ivory.

In August 2012, he started filming a documentary about the northern white rhinoceros, he is an ambassador for elephant conservation and plays a role in the “Say No” Campaign, raising awareness about the ivory trade, with partners African Wildlife Foundation and WildAid.

3. Leonardo DiCaprio

The A-list actor is known for championing environmental causes. Much is done through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which focuses on clean air, water, and climate initiatives. Its reach is wide, working on projects in more than 40 countries.

He is also put his movie industry to good use, producing two short web documentaries, Water Planet and Global Warning. In 2007 he had a major role in The 11th Hour, a documentary about people’s relationship to nature and global warming and he executive-produced and appeared in Before the Flood, a 2016 documentary film on global warming. The list goes on.

4. Priyanka Chopra

Chopra is part of a new generation of Bollywood activists, the Indian actress and singer using her celebrity status to push causes via Unicef.

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For the past 10 years she has been advocating equal opportunities for girls in her country, and all over the world, using her 27 million Instagram followers to help raise awareness.

5. Sean Penn

The US actor has put his bad-boy days behind him – he was a member of the 1980s Hollywood “brat pack” – now preferring to take on humanitarian work and political causes.

In 2002, he visited Iraq to protest at the George W. Bush administration’s plans to invade the country. He has also voiced support for the right to same-sex marriage, notably through his 2008 film Milk. In his acceptance speech for the best actor Oscar he received for that film, Penn did not hold back.

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“I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”