If you’ve been living under a rock, it still wouldn’t be acceptable if you haven’t heard about Leonardo DiCaprio. He happens to be one of the biggest stars in the world and he is proving himself to be a modern day hero. While people in Hollywood come off as superficial and ignorant, DiCaprio shows the world how his fame can be used to save the environment.
But before he became a climate change activist, how did he exactly become who he is now? From turning into the Hollywood heartthrob girls obsessed with during his Titanic days to becoming a respectable personality to both the general public and heads of states, we can all agree that he is the man everyone needs to start making changes.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio came from a rich mixture of different cultures in his blood. His father is of Italian and German descent. This is why DiCaprio knows how to converse in Italian and German while his maternal grandparents were Russians. When his parents separated a year after he was born, he and his mother lived in Los Angeles neighborhoods.
His career started during the 90s when he first appeared in different educational films and commercials. He got his break on television when he was cast on Parenthood, which eventually earned him a nomination for the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor. His movie break was on the sci-fi film, Critters 3 and went on to join the casts of Growing Pains (tv), This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. After his success on the film Titanic, DiCaprio became a household name and starred in several movies with very interesting roles. Even up until now, his star still shines bright in Hollywood and he has no plans of retiring from acting.
With a career full of demanding roles, where did his environmental activism fit in? When did DiCaprio become involved in finding ways to be part of the climate change revolution?
Little did everyone know that he had been exposed to the concept of species loss when he was still young. In an interview, he shared that a reproduction of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights was hung above his crib. But it was when he met Al Gore back in 1998 at the White House that really sparked his interest in climate activism.
This led him to establish his own foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which focuses on wildland conservation, climate change, public advocacy, indigenous rights, marine conservation and innovative solutions. Working with several partners, his foundation has already awarded grants worth $61.1 million and supported more than 65 organizations. Some of the foundation’s donations included $3 million to stop overfishing and $3 million to protect tigers in Nepal.
DiCaprio has been very supportive of several foundations and charities (some of these foundations focused on films) as well. See the list below to check which ones he supported through the years:
What makes DiCaprio so admirable is how passionate and dedicated he is in working with different organizations and leaders to improve policies involving the environment. He became part of the board of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the World Wildlife Fun and the National Resources Defense Council.
His foundation has also been raising money in its annual gala that involves several celebrities. In its third annual gala, the event was held in Saint-Tropez last year and successfully raised $45 million. The money went to causes that protected vulnerable wildlife and stopped climate change. Some of the money raised also went to GiveForFrance.org. The event were full of high profile personalities such as Bono, Mariah Carey, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Campbell and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In 2007, DiCaprio produced the 11th Hour, which he wrote and narrated as well. The documentary film tackles different crucial issues, mainly exploring how we arrived as a human race to where we are now, how it affects the environment and how we can change the course. Last year, DiCaprio released another documentary called Beyond The Flood on the National Geographic Channel. He raised more pressing issues where he discussed the dangers of climate change with scientists, activists and several world leaders. The film featured prominent figures such as Barack Obama, Elon Musk and Pope Francis. DiCaprio worked with Martin Scorsese and it distributed worldwide for free as part of NatGeo’s commitment to covering climate change.
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#Climatechange is the most critical and urgent problem facing our world today, and it must be a top issue for voters this election day. Proud to bring #BeforetheFlood to college campuses to engage young voters to hold their leaders accountable. @fisherstevens @insurgentdocs #NationalVoterRegistrationDay #Regram #RG @NatGeoChannel: In celebration of #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, we’re partnering with @RocktheVote and @theSkimm to bring @FisherStevens and @LeonardoDiCaprio's #BeforeTheFlood to 50 universities around the #UnitedStates. Let’s get 50,000+ students informed on #climatechange and registered to vote! #rockthevote #voterregistrationday Want your school to host a screening? Click the link in our bio: http://on.natgeo.com/2dpKZU5
DiCaprio has been using his popularity to reach out and educate people about the harmful and deadly effects of climate change not only to people, but to animals. One of the most important highlights of his campaign and even in his career was when he finally won the Best Actor award in 2016’s Academy Awards. Millions have always rooted for him to win the award for his role in the movie, The Revenant. During his acceptance speech, he used it as an opportunity to reach out to millions who watched the show and informed them of his fight against climate change. In his moving speech, he said:
“… And lastly, I just want to say this: Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much.”
Unfortunately, not everyone believes in climate change. This is a serious matter especially when skeptics include world leaders such as the President of the United States of America. Last year, DiCaprio, together with the head of his foundation, met with Donald Trump to give a presentation to the President, his daughter and the President’s team on how jobs that center around preserving the environment can boost the economy. By putting the government’s focus on renewable, clean energy, it could create millions of jobs for the country. While we have to see if DiCaprio influenced Trump’s government or not, we know that he will always be involved in his advocacies.
As of this moment, DiCaprio remains to have a busy acting career ahead of him. The public seems to know only a little about his private life but if there’s one thing admirable about the award-winning actor, it is his dedication to saving the environment. While most celebrities promote themselves on their social media accounts, DiCaprio likes to use his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to express his opinions and inform the public of different issues concerning the environment. His actions have become admirable and inspiring, making him one of the most respected personalities in the whole world.