This past June, the Television Academy held its Seventh Annual Television Academy Honors to recognize “television with a conscience.” The programs awarded brought awareness to important social issues by informing and inspiring action toward positive change in the world.
Much like television shows, celebrities also have the power to create awareness for important causes. Let’s take a look at the “2014 Emmy contenders with a conscience.”
Matthew McConaughey, nominated for lead actor in a drama series for his brilliant portrayal of Detective Rust Cohle in True Detective, founded the Just Keep Livin Foundation with his wife Camila. Unlike the anti-natalist Detective Cohle who states, “The honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, and walk hand in hand into extinction,” McConaughey believes in the philosophy of extending human existence. JKL empowers high school kids to lead active lives and make healthy choices with the motto, “prevent so we don’t have to cure later in life.” The non-profit arranges fitness and wellness programs in public schools where students might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Together with fitness coaches and health experts, kids can overcome fears and insecurities. Students in the program learn about nutrition, exercise, and teamwork, while practicing gratitude, making positive life choices, and taking part in community service.
Uzo Aduba, nominated for guest actress in a comedy series for her role as the loveable but troubled inmate, Crazy Eyes, on Orange is the New Black, recently supported the Geffen Playhouse education and outreach programs with her “Go Crazy Eyes for Charity” video. The hilarious clip encouraged fans to donate and provide live theater for students without access to the arts. In exchange for donations, supporters were given VIP access to hang out backstage with Aduba along with the rest of the cast. Claire Danes and the bipolar CIA officer Carrie Mathison, whom she portrays on Homeland, have one thing in common. They both do work in Afghanistan. The best actress in a drama series nominee fights terrorism on-screen and for women’s rights off-screen. Danes was recently honored for being a loyal supporter of the non-profit Afghan Hands, founded by Matin Maulawizada. The actress has been so dedicated to the cause that she even got her mother involved, artist and designer, Carla Danes. Afghan Hands empowers widows in Afghanistan, who are often victims of abuse, to gain independence, literacy, and livable wages through the creation of embroidered shawls and scarves. Women in the program are paid to attend classes where they are taught basic human, legal, and religious rights so they never have to be imprisoned in the name of law, honor, or religion again.
Laverne Cox, another Orange is the New Black nominee for guest actress in a comedy series, is also empowering the underrepresented. The actress, who plays sassy hairdressing inmate Sophia Burset, broke history this year when she became the first ever transgender person to be nominated in an acting category. Cox is a major voice and advocate for GLAAD and the LGBT community. She speaks openly about LGBT issues and rights, giving a voice to a group of people often left out of important conversations.
Aaron Paul, nominated for supporting actor in a drama series for his role as Jesse Pinkman, the Breaking Bad meth-dealer we loved to sympathize with, is a huge supporter of his wife Lauren Parsekian’s Kind Campaign, an internationally recognized movement, documentary, and school program based upon the power of kindness. The campaign brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl against girl bullying.
Amy Poehler, nominated for lead actress in a comedy series for her role as the perky Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation, co-founded Smart Girls with Meredith Walker and Amy Miles. Smart Girls is a community and content platform that encourages girls to change the world by being their authentic selves. The website has a handful of original funny, inspiring, and educational shows about issues that are important to young females.
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