Some people use their fame to really not do much more than, well, be famous. Seemingly, they are more than content with being photo opportunities for the paparazzi and content for tabloids. Yet, although it’s probably not as much as most of us would like, there are moments when we will see someone who is using their celebrity for good rather than (just) for self; who takes the spotlight that they have and redirects it to something that they deem as being both relevant and important to our communities worldwide.
Such is the case when it comes to actress Olivia Wilde. Although many of us know her for movies that she has starred in including People Like Us, In Time, Cowboys and Aliens and Tron: The Legacy, recently, she has received media press for being inspiring more than entertaining. She is being recognized as being one of the founders of what is Haiti’s first free high school.
As the child of two journalists, Wilde’s connection with Haiti began in her childhood when she took a trip with them there to visit. So, when the devastating earthquake hit back in 2010, she was moved to return back to Haiti to assist with its clean up and restoration efforts.
Now Wilde serves as an official board member for the Port-au-Prince’s Artists for Peace and Justice school. It is an institution that makes a concerted effort to provide quality education to children who are living in poverty. This, along with several other charity efforts that she is a part of, has placed her name (among others) in a Conde Nast Traveler’s 2012 Visionaries feature.
The wonderful thing about this “free school” is that it is funded by the financial pledges of many individuals who are compassionate about the restoration about Haiti. Some of the donations have come from other well-known celebrities including Barbara Streisand and Russell Crowe. When the school opens its doors on October 12, 2012, it will welcome nearly 1200 students.
As for Wilde, one of the top things on her “wish list” as it relates to this endeavor is not that the students will receive the education that they need to become who they want to be someday (whether that’s becoming a doctor or lawyer or earning property management degrees so that they can help to further build their country), but also so that they will see the domino effect that comes with being a part of philanthropy movements; that they will not feel like they have to be rich in order to truly make a difference.
This is a really admirable mentality for a woman who is not even the age of 30 herself (she’s currently 28). Perhaps it will not just be her fame, but also her youth that will motivate other individuals closer to home to follow her example.
For now, Wilde is happy about the opening of the school and is on a mission to give people a greater impression of Haiti than simply an impoverished country full of devastation. She, along with other people who have been there, know firsthand that it’s also a place of great faith, miraculous hope and new beginnings. One project, one person, at a time.