Leonardo DiCaprio is known primarily as a Hollywood actor (one that’s still on the hunt for the elusive Oscar award), and because of this, his devoted role as an environmentalist is often overlooked.
DiCaprio began his environmentalist efforts in 1998 by founding the LDF (Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.) It currently supports over 65 organizations and has awarded over $30 million in grants. Its mission is to “support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities” (from leonardodicaprio.org).
Leonardo DiCaprio’s personal Instagram page caters its content to this mission. While other celebrities post pictures of themselves in expensive cars and clothes, Leo utilizes his fame to spread awareness about endangered species and sustainability.The page has over 1.7 million followers.
DiCaprio recently hosted a 2nd LDF Gala in St. Tropez, France where he gave a speech and raised $40 million for his foundation. With celebrity connections who are wealthy themselves, DiCaprio has capitalized on the funding opportunities at his disposal.
“I want to get some of the wealthiest people on earth to focus on these issues because it’s becoming pretty dire” says Leo in this interview with Gayle King. For him, it’s not about just “picking a cause” to throw his money at. Environmentalism is a legitimate passion and belief for the actor.
Another significant project DiCaprio involved himself in is Virunga, a documentary about forest rangers in the eastern Congo who regularly risk their lives to protect the last living mountain gorillas. These gorillas are under threat from ecosystem destruction and relentless poaching. Leonardo served as one of the executive producers and teamed up with a crew from Netflix to capture the action.
The film has won over 47 international film awards and is considered one of the most gripping documentaries to be featured on the service. I recently streamed the film and can affirm these claims. You don’t have to consider yourself an environmentalist to get absorbed in the vivid jungle imagery and valor displayed by these rangers. As long as you can recognize the value of species protection, your time with Virunga will be well-spent. Here’s a link to the trailer:
While acting is Leo’s original claim to fame, his environmentalist efforts continue to make significant impacts. His celebrity status serves as a launch pad for his conservationist desires and has enabled him to raise millions towards saving the planet.