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At 22 years old, Jaden Smith has already inked his resume with occupations including actor, director, rapper, artist, activist and brand ambassador for the likes of Louis Vuitton and New Balance. He can now add Environmental Champion to the list when he’s honored with the title on Oct. 13 by UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
Awarded to Smith for his efforts on behalf of environmental justice and clean, safe water, he will join a roster of previous honorees that includes Ted Sarandos, Barbra Streisand, Al Gore and Jeff Skoll. “I’m excited to honor these young leaders in climate justice activism and action,” says Marilyn Raphael, the Institute’s first Black leader. Adds Lawrence Bender, producer and board co-chair: “There is no doubt Jaden represents the new generation of environmental warriors who understand not only the climate crisis but also climate justice. I couldn’t be more thrilled to honor him and by doing so, help shine a light on these most pressing issues.”
Smith’s environmental work dates back to pre-teen days when he, at age 11, noticed plastic water bottles in the ocean while surfing. He would later co-found the brand Just Water, which uses plant-based packaging and sustainably sourced water. He’s also deployed mobile water filtration systems in largely lower-income minority communities like L.A.’s Watts and in Flint, Michigan, through his 501CTHREE organization.
Smith tells THR that he’s “humbled and grateful” to be singled out for his work by the institute. “The climate challenges we face are too big to leave any ideas unexplored. Supporting the very bright minds at the school tackling the toughest problems with intellect and action is the true honor for me and my nonprofit 501CTHREE.”
Tickets for the event can be pre-reserved for a donation of $50 or more here. Additional information (and to sign up for updates) about the event, which will also feature Harrison Ford and Courteney Cox, can be found here. All proceeds from the event benefit the school, its graduate students and their work.
This story first appeared in the June 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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