In a true sign of the times, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Robert DeNiro and Michael B. Jordan are joining forces as part of a campaign that launched Jan. 25 — not for a luxury fashion collection or an elite watch brand, but rather for a surprising new safe spaces initiative. Along with Deepak Chopra and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, the stars are touting the WELL Health-Safety Rating.
Introduced by the International WELL Building Institute, the rating allows for buildings and spaces to merit the seal after paying for an analysis and meeting science-backed protocols across five core areas including cleaning and sanitization procedures, emergency preparedness programs, health service resources, air and water quality management, and stakeholder engagement and communication. Per IWBI, a group of more than 600 public health experts, virologists, government oﬃcials, academics, business leaders, architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals were advised as part of the creation of the rating and its criteria.
“I love the whole idea of being safe,” Lopez tells THR in an interview about why she signed on. “It has become the most important thing in all of our lives. I, like everybody else, want to be able to continue to move forward, and it's going to be important to see that WELL Health-Safety Rating seal on a building. You want everyone to feel like when they go into an environment, whether it's a restaurant or movie theater or wherever you're going, that they are adhering to guidelines, and the seal confirms that all those necessary precautions have been followed to make it be a safe space.”
For Jordan, who is selective about business partnerships and who just so happens to be already aligned with Lopez as a fellow ambassador for Coach, promoting the rating just made sense. "I like being a part of solutions, man," he tells THR. "I like being a part of figuring out how to solve a problem. With this, it seemed like [they have] done the homework. There are stats, data and research around trying to create a new norm and new system that will work. They want to get us back to doing things that we love to do, trying to create a new norm."
The WELL Health-Safety Rating comes from IWBI, a company founded by Paul Scialla who also serves as founder and CEO of Delos, a New York-based wellness, real estate and technology firm. Scialla spent 18 years working on Wall Street, with 10 of those spent at Goldman Sachs where he was a partner. At the time, he paid attention to the green building movement and the focus on environmental sustainability but felt something was missing. “The observation I made back then was that it was obviously very much needed, but I felt there was a gap in thought. With all the focus on buildings and the impact on the environment and planet, no one seemed to be focusing enough on all the people inside our spaces,” he explained. “We as people spend over 90 percent of our lives indoors, in our homes, our offices, our schools, our hotels, our restaurants.”
He felt there was an opportunity to converge health sciences and building science, and so he founded the IWBI and created the WELL Building Standard in order to “improve human health and wellbeing through the built environment.” For more than five years, the company has certified and registered projects in 76 counties and more than a billion square feet of real estate. The just-launched WELL Health-Safety Rating is a subset of the Building Standard and was born, per Scialla, in response to demand from the industry for third-party verification of health and safety protocols, now reviewed and verified by the Washington, D.C-based Green Business Certification Inc.
In L.A., Be DTLA by The Souferian Group has become the first apartment building across all of Southern California to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Rating, according to a rep for the building. The building, currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar revitalization, has been designed with amenities like a TikTok creative content studio, podcast recording rooms and a variety of work-from-home studios and lounges, and wellness programs.
“The beautiful thing about this rating is that it can apply to anything from a nail salon, all the way up to Yankee Stadium, and everything in between,” said Scialla, adding that Yankee Stadium has, in fact, achieved the rating as has JP Morgan Chase for all its global branches. “All kinds of venues, whether it's an entertainment venue, a stadium, an arena, all the way down to your typical barbershop or nail salon.”
As for why the company rounded up this particular roster of A-listers to help with the rating rollout: “We feel putting the doctors and the medical experts together with the people of reach and influence is a great way to get this out into the public consciousness," says Scialla. "This is meant to take the form of a PSA-type of feel. There is no consumer transaction here. It's not like something's being sold. This is a general awareness campaign to educate the public on what that seal means and how they can feel when they're entering spaces with that seal on it,” he added before praising his boldfaced name partners. “It was just a great experience having folks, each and every one of them, who exhibited such authentic emotion and spirit and belief in the message they were saying.”
As for Lopez, experiencing the pandemic and an extended period of quarantine has made her more aware of how she moves through the world. "Whenever you walk in somewhere, you're always looking around and keeping your distance and doing all these things. I'm super conscientious about where I go and where I travel. Particularly if I'm with members of my family, my mom or my kids or with [fiance Alex Rodriguez's] girls, it's really important for me to follow the guidelines, whether it's [social distancing], the washing of the hands, wearing masks, [face] shields," she says. "If we’re in a workspace, you know, it’s super important for me."
Jan. 31, 2021, 7:41 p.m.: Updated with information about Be DTLA.
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.