Last week, Matthew McConaughey — who was born in Uvalde, Texas — gave an emotional speech on gun control at the White House. After the tragic school shooting in his hometown, he spent time with the families of the victims and asked politicians to make "the loss of these lives matter."
In response, Fox News host Sandra Smith said it was "really interesting" to hear "someone from Hollywood calling to restore our family values."
Obviously, this is a really stupid take. Matthew just used the platform he gained from acting to stand up for what's right. Of course, he is just one of many actors who have fought against injustices while people have probably told them, privately and publicly, to shut up and stick to acting. Here are some of the ones I found:
In 2016, the Divergent actor was arrested while protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. She joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, other Native Americans, and environmentalists who opposed the pipeline as it would disturb historic and sacred sites and would threaten the water supply.
During a 2017 interview with Marie Claire UK, Shailene revealed, "I was strip-searched. Like get naked, turn over, spread your butt cheeks, bend over. They were looking for drugs in my ass."
In 2019, the TV host made an emotional appeal to Congress to give permanent funding to the 9/11 responders who worked at Ground Zero. "More of these men and women are going to get sick, and they're going to die, and I'm awfully tired of hearing this is a 'New York issue,'" he said. 'Al-Qaeda didn't shout 'death to Tribeca.' They attacked America."
You can watch Jon's full speech here:
In 2010, the Bring It On star was appointed to Obama's National Advisory Committee for Violence Against Women. She's spoken up about many causes, including racial injustice, women's experiences in the workplace, and voting rights. In 2018, she launched I'll Have Another, a production company that focuses on marginalized communities.
Gabrielle and her husband, Dwyane Wade — who have a trans daughter, Zaya — are strong supporters of the LGBTQ community. During the 31st GLAAD Awards, she said, "Black lives matter, and Black trans lives matter. We are calling on all of our racial justice warriors out there to open your hearts and your minds to the LGBTQ community so that we can work together and empower each other and save lives."
In 1970, the actor began an anti-Vietnam War speaking tour. "My first speech was given at a college in Canada," she wrote on her website. "When I reentered the US at the Cleveland airport, all my luggage was seized and gone through. They discovered a large bag containing little plastic envelopes marked (in red nail polish) 'B,' 'L,' 'D' — signifying breakfast, lunch and dinner — that contained the vitamins I took with each meal. They confiscated that as well as my address book (which was photocopied) and arrested me for drug smuggling."
"Headlines across the country had the story of me being jailed on suspicion of drug smuggling," she continued. "I was released on bond, and months later, after every pill had been tested in a lab (with taxpayer's money!), the charges were dismissed, and there were a few paragraphs hidden in the back of papers that they were vitamins, not drugs."
In addition to her anti-war efforts, she supported the Black Panther Party, protested with Native Americans over reservation conditions, and fought for women's rights. And in 2019, she was arrested five times for her Fire Drill Fridays, a weekly demonstration on the steps of Capitol Hill where she demanded environmental legislative reform.
The Ugly Betty actor is a leader in Latinx activism. She's worked with Voto Latino to demand immigration reform and empower young voters. She co-founded Poderistas, a digital community built to celebrate Latina culture, and Harness, a nonprofit that focuses on racial, gender, and civic justice.
The day after Trump's inauguration, she gave a powerful speech at the Women's March in Washington D.C. "As a woman and as a proud first-generation American born to Honduran immigrants, it's been a heart-wrenching time to be both an immigrant and a woman in this country," she said. "Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack, and the platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America, his cabinet is not America, Congress is not America. WE are America. And we are here to stay."
You can watch America's full speech here:
The Harry Potter star has long been vocal about feminism and women's rights. In 2014, she became a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped launch the HeForShe campaign, which advocates for gender equality. In 2016, she started the feminist Goodreads book club, Our Shared Shelf. She also led a gender equality session as a counselor at One Young World, an organization that focuses on empowering young leaders.
In 2017, Emma wore a revealing outfit for a Vanity Fair cover, and critics claimed the photo shoot betrayed her feminist ideals. During an interview with Reuters, she had the perfect response: "Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it."
In 2019, the Aquaman star joined protesters in Hawai'i fighting against the construction of a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world (from its underwater base). Native Hawaiians were strongly opposed to drilling into Mauna Kea, which is considered sacred ground.
He's also passionate about reducing ocean pollution and addressing climate change. In 2019, he addressed the UN as a representative of all island nations, saying, "The oceans are in a state of emergency. Entire marine ecosystems are vanishing with the warming of the seas. And as the waste of the world empties into our waters, we face the devastating crisis of plastic pollution. ... Change cannot come in 2050, or 2030, or even 2025. The change must come today."
You can watch his speech here:
In 2012, the singer co-founded the Born This Way Foundation, which supports the mental health of young people. She has been an outspoken advocate of women's rights and LGBTQ rights, speaking at marches, events, and with political leaders to fight for equality.
In the middle of a 2019 Las Vegas residency show, she called out Mike Pence for supporting his wife's decision to work at a private school that banned LGBTQ employees, students, and the children of queer parents. "To Mike Pence, who thinks that it’s acceptable that his wife works at a school that bans LGBTQ, you’re wrong," she said. "You’re the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian. I am a Christian woman, and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice, and everybody is welcome."
At just 16, the Hunger Games actor co-created "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows," a school project that went viral for calling out the appropriation of Black culture during a time of institutionalized racism and police brutality. Since then, Amandla has been involved with Art Hoe Collective, a community started by queer Black folks to give creatives of color a safe space. They've spoken out about LBGTQ rights and received the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award in 2019.
The Hate U Give actor has also been intentional about acting roles, telling Indie Magazine, "Activism is a lens through which you navigate your life. It’s also the choices that you make, and so I think I’m always looking through that lens when choosing roles. It becomes activism inherently to work on these films just because we are receiving these three-dimensional newer portrayals of Black women on the screen for the first time, especially for younger Black actresses. And so I think that becomes revolutionary."
The Black Swan actor has been a vegetarian nearly all her life and a vegan since 2011. She produced Eating Animals, a movie that dives into the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of factory farming. An outspoken advocate of animal rights and a sustainable future, Natalie was awarded the Environmental Media Association's Ongoing Commitment Award in 2017.
The Marvel actor champions many worthy environmental causes. In 2011, he told Earth Justice, "I was moved to step into the fight against hydraulic fracturing when I went to Dimock, PA and saw how their wells had been destroyed. I saw how crass and arrogant the companies who destroyed them acted toward their victims — refusing to take responsibility for the wrongs they had done. I saw that the local and state and federal government agencies that have been put in place to keep these kinds of things from happening were either apathetic or corrupt. I felt it was the right thing to stand up and say, 'No.'"
Mark's nonprofit, The Solutions Project, has committed at least 95% of resources to BIPOC-led organizations and at least 80% to women or nonbinary leadership. "I hate to say it, but the environmental movement is mostly white," he said during a 2020 interview with Time Magazine. "The power is mostly with white people in leadership. And we’re seeing a shift in that. The more we center on those who’ve been living with this and already developing the solutions, I think the quicker we’ll move along."
Last year, the Grey's Anatomy actor gave a powerful speech at a Stop Asian Hate rally after the Atlanta spa shootings. "I will challenge everyone here, if you see something, will you help me?" she asked. "If you see one of our sisters and brothers in need, will you help us?"
"I am proud to be Asian!" she yelled. "I belong here!"
You can watch Sandra's full speech here:
The Ocean's Eleven actor has been involved in international humanitarian work for decades. In 2006 and 2007, the actor spoke to the UN and government leaders around the world to help fight against the violence in Darfur. He and actor Don Cheadle were awarded the Summit Peace Award by the UN. Outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, he was arrested in 2012 for protesting the political violence in Sudan. He's co-founded multiple foundations that focus on human rights and donated to countless causes.
14.Jesse Tyler Ferguson
The Modern Family actor is an outspoken advocate for queer rights. In 2012, he founded Tie The Knot to fight for same-sex marriage. Since it was achieved in 2015, the organization has shifted its focus to LGBTQ rights. In 2018, he wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter urging people to vote for candidates who would support the Equality Act. He's been involved with many other initiatives like the ACLU's Give A Shit For Good campaign and videos with the Human Rights Campaign.
When the singer was just 18, she founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation, which provides education, nutrition, and health for children in Colombia. Since 2003, the singer has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, raising awareness for children without access to education. In 2011, Obama appointed Shakira to the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and in 2017, she received the Crystal Award for her humanitarian work.
The Hotel Rwanda actor co-founded Not On Our Watch — an organization that allowed celebrities to use their platforms to aid marginalized people — that was merged with The Sentry. He campaigned for years and co-wrote a book against the genocide in Darfur and received the BET Humanitarian Award in 2007. He's also worked to fight climate change and was named a UN Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador.
In 1999, the Cheers actor was arrested for climbing Golden Gate Bridge. "I shamelessly and proudly call myself a tree hugger," he said. He and other protestors hung banners with one reading "Aren’t redwoods more precious than gold?" and demanded the government protect a 60,000-acre redwood grove.
From 2001-2012, the Maleficent actor worked as a UN Goodwill Ambassador and carried out nearly 60 field missions as she advocated for refugees. In 2012, she was appointed Special Envoy, where she represents UNHCR at the diplomatic level and collaborates with leaders around the world. She has co-founded multiple foundations and supported numerous causes including environment and wildlife conservation, ending sexual violence against women and children, building schools for refugees, and protecting orphaned children. She has been awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work to help displaced peoples and victims of sexual violence.
Last year on World Refugee Day, she said in Burkina Faso, "I have marked this day every year for 20 years with refugees in different countries. I have never been as worried about the state of displacement globally as I am today. Not only are there now over 82 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, but the numbers have doubled in a decade. ... This is where the humanity and decency of the world is measured. Where human strength and resilience are most clearly and starkly seen. Not in the world’s gleaming capitals, but in places like this."
For decades, the Titanic actor has been an advocate for environmental issues. At just 24, he established a foundation that protects wildlife and restores balance to threatened ecosystems. He sits on the board of multiple environmental protection organizations and was awarded the Clinton Global Citizen Award for his philanthropy. He's also released multiple films on environmental issues.
20.And finally, Ashton Kutcher
In 2012, the actor co-founded Thorn, an organization that builds technology to stop online child sex trafficking. The 2021 impact report states that 24,366 children have been identified so far and over 2,700 agencies have used Thorn tools.
In 2017, he gave an impassioned speech before Congress, asking for funding and specific action like looking into the pipeline. "As part of my anti-trafficking work, I’ve met victims in Russia, I’ve met victims in India, I’ve met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico, victims from New York and New Jersey and all across our country. I’ve been on FBI raids where I’ve seen things that no person should ever see," he said.
You can watch Ashton's full speech here:
Can you think of any other actors who stood up for what's right despite being "someone in Hollywood?" LMK in the comments below!