More Than The Oscars and Emmys: The Championing Women of Hollywood Who Aren’t Just Pretty Faces | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Selena Gomez

Women have been at the forefront of the words “beauty” and “fashion,” but never “history” and “legacy”. This obviously shouldn’t be the case because the female population has a monumental cache of feats that have been consistently and constantly changing the world for the better.

Specifically, in Hollywood and the general entertainment industry, women have more often than not been reduced to demeaning roles and derogatory stereotypes since the time of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. While in recent times the industry has been embracing inclusivity, diversity, and progression, there’s still a very bright spotlight on the female fallacy that women are only “good for” the drama they end up in, their unconventional fashion choices, and most of all, their romantic lives and love escapades. 

It’s time to shift the limelight onto the civic initiatives and life-changing projects they have put their efforts into that deserve some much-needed air time.

Constance Wu

Constance Wu
You’d probably know her from ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018), ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ (2015-2020), and ‘Hustlers’ (2019), but we bet you didn’t know she champions immigrant families by promoting active civic engagement within the community | The Miry’s List

Constance Wu besides being one of the biggest and brightest faces of Hollywood’s Asian-American genset has done groundbreaking work for civic engagement and social participation:

  • Active involvement with The Big Hundred, a social media non-partisan campaign that aims to do 100 good deeds in the first 100 days after the inauguration.
  • Worked with Miry’s List, an organization in the United States that supports refugee immigrant families to provide essentials to newly arrived immigrant and refugee families in Southern California.
  • Supporting the provision of giving immigrant families peace, safety, and well-being needs through active participation and collaboration with organizations.
  • Using her new sense of visibility in the industry to speak out on feminist and humanitarian issues, such as calling out cis male Asian Americans to speak for the female micro population and Hollywood’s constant dismissal of sexual misconduct as well.

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton
You’d probably know her as one of the most successful female country stars in the world with multiple songs in the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for over 70 years, but we bet you didn’t know she’s a philanthropist by heart for children’s education | Brightly

As one of the most legendary country icons in the world, Dolly Parton is less likely to be known for her multitude of charitable efforts and transformative initiatives than her chart-topping singles:

  • Created Dollywood Foundation to support children towards academic success, starting with the Buddy Program that gave $500 to every 7th and 8th grader who finishes high school; decreasing high school drop-out rates from 35% to 6% on its first launch in 1988.
  • In honor of Dolly’s father who didn’t know how to read, she launched The Imagination Library which gave 1 book monthly to each enrolled child in Sevier County while offering a $15,000 college fund each to 5 high school seniors annually.
  • Created multiple fundraising events to support areas and populations that have been devastated by natural disasters, such as the 2016 Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for My People Fund which raised over $13 million for the East Tennessee wildfires and raising $700,000 with her Smoky Mountain businesses to the flood victims of Middle Tennessee.
  • At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she donated $1 million to the research initiatives of Vanderbilt University, which greatly helped the launch of Moderna’s vaccine.

Yara Shahidi

Yara Shahidi
You’d probably know her from ‘Grown-ish’ (2018), ‘Black-ish’ (2014-2022), and ‘The Sun Is Also A Star’ (2019), but we bet you didn’t know she spearheaded an organization to call for the youth to be registered and educated voters in America | Whereabout Studio

A rising star in Hollywood and a BET award winner, Yara Shahidi is one of the youth activists we are blessed with in the industry. At only 18 years old, she has spearheaded multiple campaigns and foundations to support her cause of voter education:

  • A loud and proud activist for women in STEM, spending her high school days launching Yara’s Club, a partnership with the Young Women’s Leadership Network of New York to provide online mentorship with the goal of eradicating poverty.
  • For her 18th birthday, she launched Eighteenx18 (now known as We Vote Next), an organization that encourages the youth to be involved with civic engagement, education, and voting.
  • Getting a personalized letter of recommendation from former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama for her wide array of activism that encourages the youth’s betterment in social engagement.
  • Won Glamour’s Women of the Year award in 2019, while championing her ambassadorship with Bobbi Brown to launch the Pretty Powerful Fund, to empower multidimensional women of all ages, races, and orientations, donating over $1 million to multiple global organizations that provide mentorship, education, and resources to girls all around the world.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys
You’d probably know her as the female lead behind the smash-hit ‘Empire State of Mind’ (2009) and a 15-time Grammy-winning pianist, singer, songwriter, and producer, but we bet you didn’t know she supports the HIV-positive mother and children community with grit and candor | Renae Wootson / Billboard

She’s the iconic triple threat of singer-songwriter-producer in the 21st century and has made her name and game known in the music industry as one of the most legendary musicians, Alicia Keys has a deep connection with philanthropic efforts that we might not know about:

  • Affected by HIV/AIDS as a young girl with her mother’s friend’s passing, she was inspired to co-found Keep A Child Alive in 2003 after a visit to South African clinics that housed HIV-positive mothers and children to provide life-saving, antiretroviral treatment to children and families suffering from HIV/AIDS.
  • Raising multiple microdonations in her concerts by having fans text ALIVE to 90999, one concert of which raised over $40,000.
  • Alongside A$AP Rocky and Patti Smith, Keys has co-launched The Black Ball, an annual fundraising night of entertainment and music from global musicians to raise funds to fight against and provide support to HIV/AIDS research and treatment initiatives. It has already raised over $28.7 million and counting since its inauguration in 2003.
  • After coming across the fact that in 2021’s 3,000 credited songwriters, only 12% were female, only 3% were female engineers, and only 2% were female producers, she launched She Is The Music, a non-profit music group whose goal is for female advancement in the industry, with multiple wins like Ann Mincieli, the group’s beneficiary, winning a Grammy for Best Immersive Audio Album in 2022.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez with When We All Vote
You’d probably know her from Disney’s ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ (2007-2012), the voice behind hits like ‘Come & Get It’ (2013), or maybe even recent drama, but we bet you didn’t know she funds LGBTQ+ initiatives, speaks in mental health forums, and a co-chair in a pro-voting foundation | Kevin Winter / Getty Images

The name behind revolutionary make-up brand Rare Beauty, a maker of our Disney Channel childhood, and (unfortunately) still the victim of social media scrutiny by industry peers and celebrity news outlets, Selena Gomez isn’t just “Justin Bieber’s ex”, she’s one of the most active faces behind mental health:

  • A new co-chair of When We All Vote, a leading national initiative of the Civic Nation founded by Michelle Obama to increase voter participation year-by-year while changing the culture around it. Gomez was also a keynote speaker at last year’s Culture of Democracy Summit.
  • Upon the release of her Apple TV documentary, ‘My Mind & Me’ (2022), she has been a lifelong advocate and speaker for mental health and the stigma that surrounds it, especially for celebrities who have battled with it in silence.
  • As the executive producer of ‘13 Reasons Why’ (2017-2020), Gomez has pledged to donate a portion of soundtrack proceeds from Season 2 to The Trevor Project and Crisis Text Line, which both offer suicide and depression support and resources, especially to LGBTQ+ youth. 
  • Founded Rare Impact Fund, an organization dedicated to providing mental health services, education, and resources globally, aiming to raise over $100 million over the next decade to continue its vision and mission for the world.

Click the links to learn more about each organization, foundation, project, and initiative that has been slowly but surely taking steps to make the world a better place.

Header image courtesy of USA TODAY