Olivia Wilde, Paul Rudd and Judd Apatow Reveal Their Top Philanthropic Causes
This story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Causes: Poverty, global women's rights
As the daughter of two investigative journalists, the 30-year-old Wilde early on was exposed to the horrors of injustice and inequality. One of her earliest memories was stumbling upon her mother reviewing footage of starving Somali children for a Nightline segment. "It seemed impossible, like it must not be real, or a Hollywood movie," she recalls. "Yet rather than shielding me, my mother told me that that was how some children my age were living." The incident had a profound effect on the 9-year-old. "From that early age, I felt a determination to do my part as a human citizen to try to ease suffering." Among Wilde's causes are Artists for Peace and Justice, which serves the poorest communities in Haiti; the Half the Sky Movement, with its focus on empowering girls and women in Africa and worldwide; and the ACLU (Wilde's sister is an attorney for the 94-year-old organization). "I support the programs that are working to lessen that divide," says the New York-based actress, who recently gave birth to a son with fiance Jason Sudeikis. In 2011, Wilde spent two weeks in Kenya — for a 2012 PBS documentary series on Half the Sky — to help shine a light on women and girls enduring and overcoming sexist and oppressive cultures. "What I learned in Senegal or Kenya or Haiti can be applied [anywhere] … that you have to give people access to education and health care."
Cause: Children's health
Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital is the only area hospital that won't turn away a patient seeking specialized care. In 2010, Rudd, 45, and fellow K.C. natives Rob Riggle, 44, and Jason Sudeikis, 38, launched the Big Slick Campaign on CrowdRise to raise $50,000 for the hospital and its cancer center. Four years and five star-filled events later, they've raised nearly $2.5 million (including $54,000 via CrowdRise this year) and donated $500,000 for equipment. With fellow natives Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and Dave Koechner (American Dad!) now on board, the competition to be top fundraiser is as fierce as a World Cup semifinal. "I beat all four of those guys," boasts Rudd. "I feel like Germany. All four of them feel like Brazil."
Apatow's first industry job introduced him to the concept of philanthropy. Working for HBO's Comic Relief, he says, "I met people who devoted their lives to helping the homeless." Today, Apatow, 46, is active in literacy group 826LA, which provides free tutoring for schoolkids. Recently, the director, who also provides tutoring, helped organize an Anchorman stage reading that raised $400,000. He first got involved to "kiss Dave Eggers' ass," he jokes of the author and co-founder of national umbrella group 826. "But then I realized learning how to write was something that helped me survive. I think it's a good thing to provide that assistance to kids who don't have the money to pay for tutors. I mean, I have tutors for my kids, and our high school is very expensive."
Read more from THR's Philanthropy Issue here.