Since the most recent outbreak of Ebola in February, these celebrities have used their unique positions to help raise awareness, money and resources to help communities worst hit. They’ve used their star power in a variety of ways, whether it be encouraging their Twitter fans to get involved, or donating millions of dollars to organizations on the ground. Here are 10 celebrities who have joined the fight against Ebola.
Sources: USMagazine.com, TheWrap.com, HuffingtonPost.com, Forbes.com, WhoSay.com, SaloneJamboree.net, HollywoodReporter.com, OkayAfrica.com, BellaNaija.com, ETOnline.com, CBSNews.com, PGAFamilyFoundation.org
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan said in early October 2014 that they were donating $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to help fight Ebola. In a statement released with the donation, Zuckerberg said, “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio. We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome.” CDC spokespeople have said that the money will help address the most pressing needs as the epidemic evolves.
Football legend David Beckham, who also happens to be a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, joined the fight by making a video for UNICEF that raises awareness about preventing the spread of Ebola. The feature will be broadcast across West Africa, and officials believe that it will have an enormous impact given Beckham’s popularity and the immense football fever in the region. Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) president, Isha Johansen, said, “To have David Beckham involved in this campaign is massive for us…In Sierra Leone, football is a religion. All men, women and children follow a player or a team from the Premier League but David Beckham is the favorite.” The SLFA and UNICEF have partnered for several months to help fight Ebola through sanitation, disease awareness and prevention programs.
Whoopi Goldberg joined forces with other celebrities to launch the #CrushEbolaNow campaign with a public service announcement on CNN. She has also been vocal in slamming other public figures who made disparaging or unproductive comments about the disease, such as real estate mogul Donald Trump. Trump tweeted the following: “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences.” Goldberg said his comments were “dopey” and “idiotic,” and publicly explained how Ebola is spread in an attempt to calm the hysteria. Goldberg also condemned NBC’s Chief Medical Editor, Nancy Snyderman, for violating her voluntary quarantine after coming into contact with an Ebola patient.
Movie star Idris Elba, whose father came from Sierra Leone, has been at the forefront of the celebrity campaign to help raise Ebola awareness. The star of “Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom” and “The Wire” used his Twitter following to talk about the disease, and even spoke at the UN about the virus. Elba repeatedly tried to drive home the fact that “Ebola is not a death sentence,” saying, “I’m going viral to fight the virus, so to speak. If you care about any part of the world you should care about Ebola – I don’t know how else to spell it out. It’s a very human problem, not just a regional one.”
“Footloose” star Kevin Bacon returned to his dancing roots to get involved in the #ShakeEbolaOff campaign – an online dance challenge to help raise money for Emergency USA to purchase protective gear for doctors and health workers on the ground in Sierra Leone. Bacon joined the challenge along with other celebrities such as Gavin Houston and the Denver Broncos cheerleaders in the hopes of raising both awareness and funds to fight the outbreak. The ShakeEbolaOff challenge is the brainchild of organization End Ebola Now, which ssaid, “Dancing plays a huge role in West African culture – it is impossible to walk through the streets without seeing it. It is one of the strongest cultural unifiers within the West African region, and the rest of the world, so what better way to spread awareness and raise funds than through dance?”
Isaiah Washington, a “Grey’s Anatomy” star with roots in Sierra Leone, used his star power to help raise awareness for the disease. Washington attended the U.N. general assembly meeting in New York to engage with leaders about the outbreak, and used Twitter to keep Ebola a trending topic of conversation. Washington consistently brings up worthy organizations that are working to contain the virus on the ground, such as Africare and Doctors Without Borders, and he urges fans to donate and continue to spread awareness about the outbreak.
Jeffrey Wright, an Emmy-award-winning actor and “Hunger Games” star, has been involved in the Ebola outbreak from the start. He has considerable interests in Sierra Leone. Wright runs a gold exploration company, as well as a social development and peace foundation in rural Sierra Leone. The brains behind the “CrushEbolaNow campaign, Wright also produced a star-studded public service announcement (PSA) that said the following: “With this PSA – understanding that people are facing some extraordinary challenges – we are trying nonetheless to celebrate their strengths and their beauty and their dignity in the face of these challenges and remind people that there are not only Americans and Europeans who have survived this thing but there have been heroic Sierra Leoneans, Liberians and Guineans who have survived as well – and they survived because they managed to get early and proper medical treatment.”
You can view Wright’s PSA video here.
Microsoft mogul and philanthropy heavyweight Bill Gates, along with his wife Melinda, donated $50 million to help contain the Ebola virus, pledging to help encourage research on treatments, rapid tests, and vaccines. In a speech at a global health conference in New Orleans, Louisiana this month, Bill spoke about how the Ebola outbreak underlined the flaws in our health care systems. “We’re likely in the next several decades to have an epidemic that’s more transmissible than this Ebola epidemic,” he said. Gates encouraged others to invest in drug and vaccine research, and bolster health systems across the world.
Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, pledged $100 million to help fight the Ebola outbreak. Through his foundation, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, he said in a statement, “The Ebola outbreak in West Africa requires innovative and creative solutions to prevent its spread across the continent and the world. We are working to be a catalyst for these solutions and spark an accelerated and coordinated global effort to contain this outbreak as quickly as possible.” Allen said “a winnable battle should never be lost. Now is the time to respond to this crisis with the speed and resources needed to support all who are working hard to contain, and ultimately tackle, this horrible disease.” Allen’s donation will go to a variety of organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.