George Clooney: Making change happen

Think of George Clooney and a few things spring to mind: he’s charismatic, talented, famously hilarious and empathetic in spades. No other star holds as much cultural cachet as the Hollywood veteran. Prodigious talent and a witty sense of humour may have made Clooney a household name, but he is becoming increasingly revered for his philanthropic and humanitarian endeavours. 

 

The driving force behind his Hollywood career and dedication to humanitarian causes? A heart of gold and the enduring belief that “the only failure is not to try.”

 

HUMANITARIAN WORK

Clooney is drawn to working on films with purpose, so it makes perfect sense that he also uses his celebrity platform for good. “There is more attention on celebrity than ever before,” he has said. “And there is a use for that besides selling products.”

 

From the Hope for Haiti Now telethon he organised in 2010 which raised over $61million for earthquake victims to his ongoing work advocating for the rights of Darfur’s refugees, Clooney continues to use his clout for the betterment of people around the world. Among the many honours received for his humanitarian efforts was the 2007 Peace Summit Award, given at the eighth World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, and the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award. Clooney was also the recipient of the USC Shoah Foundation’s Ambassador for Humanity award in 2013, with founder Steven Spielberg calling him an “an unparalleled example of action” and a “humble humanitarian.”

 

MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

Clooney has been married to his wife Amal Clooney (previously Amal Alamuddin) since 2014. Clooney was immediately taken by her intelligence and fervour for her work as a human rights lawyer, saying “she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.” Amal also mirrors his own upbeat and fun-loving attitude and he believes that the “number one thing in our relationship is her sense of humour.”

 

The Clooneys are renowned for using their star power to push for justice globally for women, children, LGBT+ people, religious minorities and journalists. In 2016, they launched the Clooney Foundation for Justice together, which aims to advance justice for marginalised and vulnerable communities, displaced children deprived of opportunities to learn, and refugees seeking to rebuild their lives abroad. Since launching, the Clooneys have also partnered with other social-justice foundations to help during times of need. Most notably, they partnered with UNICEF to open seven public schools for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

 

PHOTO PHIL POYNTER/TRUNK ARCHIVE

 

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

It’s easy to imagine that Clooney leads a strictly charmed life, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t overcome his fair share of hardship. While in high school, Clooney contracted Bell’s Palsy, a nerve disorder that left half of his face paralysed for months. He credits this experience with helping him to “develop a better personality and [to] learn how to make jokes.” Not only did this inspire the self-effacing humour he’s still so well known for, it also deepened his compassion for those less fortunate than himself.

 

FAMILY MAN

Clooney recently became a father to twins, Ella and Alexander, and hopes to instil the same values in them that he himself lives by. “I want them to be compassionate about other people’s plights,” he said, once again highlighting his fundamental decency. “Because that’s the thing, you know? You have to have some sort of empathy… It’s challenging to remind children who have been born into this glass of celebrity and money to have empathy for people who aren’t as fortunate as they are. That’s going to be Amal’s and my job to teach our children, and it’s an important one.”

 

GIVING BACK

Clooney has one of the most charitable hearts in Hollywood. He is continuously trying to make the world a better place, whether that’s lighting up a room with his quick wit and self-deprecating humour, speaking out against injustices, or donating to charities that help those in need. Humble, hardworking and compassionate, he is a role model in the truest sense of the world. Above all, it’s what he continues to do with his celebrity status that makes him so special.