Glamorous ‘Monster’ on screen, a generous humanitarian behind the scenes: Here are five reasons to love Hollywood actress Charlize Theron — who is among TIME magazine’s 2016 list of the 100 most influential people in the world — that have nothing to do with her acting career, Oscar-winning roles, startling beauty, or her joining Fast 8…
1. Theron Is Helping Fight HIV
The iconic photograph of Princess Diana hugging and kissing an HIV+ patient in England in the 1980s, inspired Theron to promote HIV/AIDS education for poor children and their families in South Africa. In 2007, Theron founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) to help African youth keep themselves safe from HIV.
By supporting community-based organizations through grant giving, networking, and spotlighting their work, Theron is implementing innovative HIV prevention programs that provide impoverished, under-resourced adolescents with the tools and skills they need to protect themselves against HIV and live healthy, productive lives.
In 2012, Theron auctioned her black Versace dress, worn at the Spike Video Game Awards, and her purple Lanvin dress, worn at the Cannes Film Festival, to benefit and support CTAOP. In 2014, the Annenberg Foundation awarded CTAOP a 4-year, $1 million grant through the New Venture Fund to enable CTAOP to “help community-based HIV education and screening provider Mpilonhle expand its mobile health clinic fleet and add water access and sanitation development to its core programs”.
“Trust me, I’ve had moments with my foundation where I sat down and threw my hands up and said, ‘Does any of this actually matter?’ And I think every time that has happened to me, there’s been one face that shows up in front of me, with tears of joy, where you can see that what you have done has affected this one singular person. That to me is success. It’s the only way I can do this.”
2. Theron Aids The UN By Helping Battered Women
Theron uses her Academy Award-winning fame to help end violence against women and girls around the globe. She was the voice for the Rape Crisis Center in Cape Town in 1999, and has appeared in several South African campaigns combating violence against women. As part of the Stop Rape Now campaign, she visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an epidemic of sexual violence has left a generation of women physically and emotionally scarred by the brutality of war.
“Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been beaten, tortured and raped—atrocities beyond anything that I have ever heard of or could imagine… For a problem so big and so complicated, where do you begin? What I have found and what I believe is that you begin somewhere, anywhere, but you must begin. You must act. As you read this, consider your humanity. Consider for one moment if you or your sister, your mother or your daughter lived in such a dire situation—then act.”
3. Theron Cares For The Underprivileged
With support from Los Angeles’ LAFC Chelsea Soccer Club, the CTAOP launched community soccer programs that included building soccer fields, distributing uniforms and equipment, and providing health education and services to underprivileged children. With the help of a pair of architects and the Annenberg Foundation, the CTAOP could also build soccer fields that capture, clean and store rainwater for developing countries throughout Africa.
4. Theron Cares About Animals
Theron is a supporter of animal rights, and is an active member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She did an anti-fur campaign for PETA, condemning the use of animals for fashion. In addition, she also appeared in a video narrating how PETA investigators on a fur farm in Midland, Michigan, saw chinchillas being electrocuted – causing painful seizures to the animals’ hearts – and having their necks broken while fully conscious.
“If you’ve ever stopped and smiled at the dogs in a pet store window, you’ve probably been tempted to take one home. But did you realize the dollars you’d spend on one of those cute little puppies would support a really ugly industry? You see, almost all the puppies for sale at your local mall were churned out by breeding facilities called puppy mills. There are thousands of these mills across the United States, supplying stores with half a million puppies a year. It’s all about quantity and profit, with little, if any care given to the individual animals. In fact, the conditions common to most mills are so inhumane; the dogs are left in various states of physical and mental anguish.”
5. Theron Supports Marriage Equality
Angelina Jolie, Kristen Bell and Charlize Theron are among the famous Hollywood actors who pledged to wait until the legalization of gay marriage in the United States to tie the knot. While she was still dating actor Stuart Townsend in 2009, during an appearance on The View, Theron made it clear she would not marry until everyone could.
“I don’t want to get married because right now the institution of marriage feels very one-sided, and I want to live in a country where we all have equal rights. I think it would be exactly the same if we were married, but for me to go through that kind of ceremony, because I have so many friends who are gays and lesbians who would so badly want to get married, that I wouldn’t be able to sleep with myself.”
The same year, Theron threw her weight behind gay marriages, and wrote an open letter calling for people of all sexual orientations to join a rally in California aimed at raising awareness of the issue.
In 2012, she told The Daily Mail:
“Marriage is not for me. Until it is equal for everybody, I don’t want to be a part of it. I grew up during apartheid and this feels similar. Why can heterosexual couples have the legal status of marriage and same-sex couples cannot? That is like having a white water fountain and a black water fountain.”
In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right for every American, regardless of what state they live in.
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