Hollywood's Most Influential Celebrity Activists

March 10, 2012 By:
Hollywood's Most Influential Celebrity Activists

The thirty-minute film documenting the atrocities of African warlord Joseph Kony blew up on social media sites this week, making its way from a (sadly) relatively unknown issue to a mainstream cause.

Kony 2012 has been viewed over 41 million times on YouTube, most of those views taking place on Thursday. When celebrities like Rihanna and George Clooney backed the cause, the video went even more viral.

Fan of celebrity culture or not, there’s really no downside to stars using their fame to garner public attention to global (or domestic) atrocities. Here are 5 celebrities and the main causes they choose to represent.

Angelina Jolie: War Refugees: Angelina Jolie is known for promoting humanitarian causes in her role as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

I am so inspired by these people," she told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "You think, Jesus, the things these people go through, I owe it to all of them to get myself together and stop whining about being tired and get there and get focused, because -- God -- it's the least I can do with what they live with."

George Clooney: Darfur Genocide: Like most celebs, George Clooney is committed to a number of causes, including the UN World Food Program and Bono’s poverty-fighting ONE Campaign. But he’s probably most known for his focus on the Darfur area of Sudan.

"You can go on Google Earth and Google my house," said the actor. "I thought, if that's the way it is and they're gonna be able to Google my house, then people who are committing war crimes, specifically the government of Sudan, should be able to enjoy the same level of celebrity that I do. These people are public figures, and we're gonna take their pictures."

Sean Penn: Natural Disaster Victims: When Sean Penn showed up on a boat in New Orleans, picking people out of the flooded waters of Hurricane Katrina, some people called it a PR stunt. You know who didn’t care whether it was a PR stunt or not? The people who were rescued.

Bono: The U2 front man fights to end poverty by shedding light on issues that perpetuate it. For example, the ONE.org website, currently reads:

“Right now, oil company lobbyists are trying to kill the best parts of a law that would put an end to secret deals with foreign governments. If big oil wins, that means billions of dollars put into the pockets of corrupt leaders, rather than life-saving programs to help the world's poorest people pull themselves out of poverty.”

Paul McCartney: Animal Rights: Paul and his late wife, Linda, were vegetarians and animal rights activists. Some examples of his activism: in 2006, Paul spoke out against seal hunting. He’s also lent support to animal rights activists in Israel fighting to pass a bill banning fur trade.