Years have passed since Leonardo DiCaprio won the world over with his charm, dashing smile and impeccable talent. He received the reputation of wowing audiences with his range and heartfelt performances at the very start of his career. DiCaprio made his big screen debut in the early ’90s, starring alongside Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life and Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, for which he received his first Oscar nomination at the young age of 19.
In 1997, he starred in James Cameron legendary movie, Titanic and his career skyrocketed from there. The world watched him develop from a teen heartthrob to a Hollywood powerhouse. In recent years, we hear less about Dicaprio’s irrefutable talents in front of the big screen and more about his commitment to safeguarding the earth and promoting positive change in our world. Whether it’s through creating feature-length documentaries or spearheading important initiatives, Leonardo knows no bounds when it comes to saving our planet
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
His role as an environmental advocate actually began much sooner than we think. In 1998, just one year after Titanic was released, the young actor created the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Since 2010, the LDF has donated over $30 million to fund high-impact environmental projects in more than 44 countries.
The Foundation was created to support organizations dedicated to securing a sustainable future for our planet. Some of the issues that they focus on are fighting climate change, access to clean water, protecting biodiversity, cleaning up our oceans and aiding in disaster relief. With this underway, it’s a wonder how Leo had time to star in almost 50 movies throughout his career.
A Unique Website
Most actors have their own website, but DiCaprio’s website is much different than the rest. When you go to his site, you will see that the majority of it is dedicated to environmental content.
The world already knows that he is a talented actor. Now he wants to dedicate his fame to teaching his fans how to take care of the planet. In addition to LDF, Dicaprio also serves on the board of the World Wildlife Fund as well as many other environmental organizations.
Movies About the Environment
Leonardo has not forgotten his roots and uses his experience in film to support his initiatives. In 2007 Leo created, produced, co-wrote and narrated a documentary by the name of The 11th Hour.The movie focuses on the state of the environment and the problems facing the planet’s future. The film also proposes potential solutions through social responsibility and conservation.
In 2016 Leonardo came out with a second documentary, The Ivory Game and again with Before the Flood. These are just a few of the documentaries that he has participated in throughout the years. In 2019 he came out with another documentary called Sea of Shadowsand he currently has another movie in development.
The 11th Hour Charity Gala
In true DiCaprio fashion, Leonardo used the momentum from his first documentary, The 11th Hour and organized a charity gala by the same name. The 11th Hour fine art auction included the sale of over 33 works of art by prominent artists and raised almost $40 million for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Pieces such as Zeng Fanzhi’s “The Tiger” sold for over $5 million.
The event turned out to be one of the most important wildlife charity auctions ever staged. At a total of $38,827,000 million and registration from 32 countries, The 11th Hour marked the highest grossing environmental charity event ever held.
Before The Flood
One of the most notable documentaries that Leonardo DiCaprio created was the 2016 film Before the Flood. The movie follows DiCaprio as he travels around the world with scientific experts to witness firsthand how climate change influences our earth.
He also sits down with political leaders to discuss what can be done to solve the issue and what preventative measures individuals can take. The film, produced in partnership with National Geographic became the most watched documentary in history. It gained a staggering 60 million views in just three months.
Saving Animals All over the World
DiCaprio has become somewhat of a Superman for wildlife everywhere. In 2010 the LDF donated $1 million to preserve the Nepalese wild tiger population. He also funds projects to protect the black rhino in Tanzania, the lowland gorilla in Central Africa and the snow leopard in Central Asia.
These are only a few of the countless efforts that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation makes to save wildlife and protect our earth’s biodiversity.
Animals Named in Leo’s Honor
In celebration of Leonardo’s environmental activism, he has had not one but two creepy critters named after him. Not many people can gloat about such an honor. A new species of water beetle discovered in the streams of the Malaysian Borneo has been officially named by scientists as ‘Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi,’ or ‘DiCaprio beetle’ for short.
“We didn’t name the beetle because it looks like Leonardo DiCaprio,” said one of the scientists leading the expedition. “We wanted to highlight that even the smallest creature is important, such as this tiny beetle that nobody knew about before now.” We think that Leo can get behind that sentiment. There is also a species of spider found in the Dominican Republic named after the actor.
First to Drive a Prius
Leonardo is not only a strong activist, he is also a trendsetter. DiCaprio was one of the first celebrities to start driving a Toyota Prius, a full hybrid electric car that reduces the need for gasoline and minimizes carbon dioxide emissions. DiCaprio also moved into an “eco-friendly” condo in Rockefeller Park, NYC.
The building utilizes solar energy, has green roofs that are covered in 75% vegetation and the interior is sourced by renewable materials such as non polluant paints. It’s always great to see when celebrities not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk and Leo really is fully committed to lowering his environmental footprint.
Investing in Vegan Companies
As part of his efforts, DiCaprio has also invested in various plant-based companies. Investments include the plant-based milk manufacture, Califia farms, and snack food company, Hippeas. He also invested in the award-winning company, Beyond Meat.
Beyond Meat creates mock-meat products that are meant to mimic the juicy texture and flavor of real meat but eliminates the need for livestock production, which is one of the largest causes of climate change. Hey, if Leo likes it, it’s worth a try, right?
Saving the Whales
Another documentary produced by Leonardo was a film titled Sea of Shadows. This troubling eco-thriller talks about the critical endangerment of the vaquita whale, the world’s smallest whale. The movie uncovers the heartbreaking story behind the near extinction of the vaquita habitat.
There are only 30 of these poor things left in the wild. The film aims to underline the issues of commercial development and overfishing and talks about the brave heroes who are fighting to protect our oceans. The documentary rightfully won the Sundance Audience Award at the 2019 Sundance Festival.
Convincing Russia to Release Beluga Whales
Leonardo’s efforts to save our seas did not stop at Sea of Shadows.After finding out about the 90 beluga whales, five baby walruses, and 11 orcas that were captured off of Russia’s Pacific coast, Leonardo took to Twitter to demand action. He urged his followers to sign a petition, pressuring Russian leaders to release the captured animals.
The petition raised nearly one million signatures, getting the attention of Putin himself. The Russian leader ordered the release of the animals but a release date has yet to be set. We are sure that if a date isn’t set soon, Leo will have something to say about it.
The Chimpanzee Whisperer
Some of you might have heard the name Jane Goodall before. The famed primatologist is known internationally as the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. And rightfully so; Goodall dedicated nearly 60 years studying the chimpanzee population in Tanzania and has written several books detailing her studies. Today, she remains committed to protecting these chimps and other primates from extinction.
As part of her efforts, Goodall has launched a vegan clothing brand alongside a well-known actor and environmentalist…You guessed it, our main man, Leo. Goodall and DiCaprio teamed up to create the company, “Don’t Let Them Disappear.” The proceeds from the clothing line will benefit ape conservation work.
In Good Company
Leonardo and Jane Goodall also teamed up at a celebrity auction that raised over $7 million. The two were recently spotted meeting with Moby, who is another celebrity known for his environmental efforts, and the three are rumored to have a new project in the works.
In addition to Goodall and Moby, DiCaprio has worked alongside many other big name celebrity advocates and friends such as Mark Ruffalo. Like Leonardo, Ruffalo has also created a documentary about Climate Change titled In This Climate.
Ending The Ivory Trade
In yet another documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, The Ivory Game,exposes the illegal ivory trade business in China and Hong Kong. The movie centers on wildlife activists in Africa that are attempting to eliminate poaching of African elephants.
The activists hope to put a stop to the selling of ivory, a substance that comes from the elephant tusks. In addition to creating the film, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation also sponsored a petition that was instrumental in ending the ivory trade in Thailand.
UN Messenger of Peace
In 2014, Leonardo was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace, with the aim to raise global awareness on climate change. The decision was announced by then UN-secretary general, Ban Ki Moon.
“Leonardo DiCaprio is not just one of the world’s leading actors, he also has a long-standing commitment to environmental causes, including through his foundation,” said Ban Ki-moon. Leonardo took on this new position with full force and has already met with numerous world leaders to speak with them on influential environmental policies.
Speaking up for Change
As part of his newly appointed title, DiCaprio spoke at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit. In his powerful speech, he proposed that the best way for world leaders to eliminate the threat of climate change is by “putting a price tag on carbon emissions.” He went on to note that the issue should not be seen as a partisan debate but rather a humane one.
He graciously stated, “as an actor, I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe mankind has looked at climate change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away. But I think we know better than that.” Leo also spoke the following year at the UN signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement, the first universal and legally binding agreement on climate change.
Discussing The Issues with Public Figures
Leonardo has met both President Obama and President Trump as well as many other international public figures such as Pope Francis in order to discuss climate change. Accompanied by Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, DiCaprio presented Trump with a detailed framework of the economic potential in investing in clean technology and renewable energy.
“Our conversation focused on how to create millions of secure, American jobs in the construction and operation of commercial and residential clean, renewable energy generation,” Tamminen detailed in an interview with CNN. Leonardo also met with Barack Obama during his presidency. The meeting was included in DiCaprio’s documentary, Before The Flood.
Dedicated Golden Globe to Indigenous People
Up until 2016, Leonardo DiCaprio’s fans were up in arms about the fact that the star, despite rightfully earning nominations since the start of his career, had yet to win an Oscar. After waiting all those years, Leonardo finally earned his Oscar for his leading role in The Revenant, a western film set in the 1800s.The Revenant also won Leonardo his third Golden Globe, for which the star gave a very moving acceptance speech.
“I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in this film and all the Indigenous communities around the world,” DiCaprio said. “To the Indigenous peoples of the world: it is time we recognize your history and we protect your Indigenous lands from corporate interests and people who are out there to exploit them.”
People’s Climate March
On April 29th, 2017, Leonardo marched alongside more than 200,000 people towards the White House in Washington D.C. The People’s Climate March was held in order to demonstrate a sense of unity and to counter any scepticism of climate change. There were also similar marches held across the country.
During the march, the star held a sign reading a simple yet direct message; “Climate Change is Real.” In addition to Leonardo DiCaprio, other celebrities in attendance were Richard Branson and Al Gore, whom DiCaprio revealed was the person who encouraged him to take interest in environmental issues.
Leonardo’s activism was often times inspired by the movies he starred in. In 2006, he starred in the movie Blood Diamond, a true story about diamond mines in 1990s Sierra Leone, Africa. The movie opened Leonardo’s eyes to the conflicts surrounding these mining efforts.
During the filming process, the actor worked and interacted with orphaned children in Mozambique, and the experience moved him to take action on similar issues. DiCaprio was also inspired when filming the movie Beach in 2000. The influence from filming Beachcould have been what brought Leonardo to later purchase Blackadore Caye, an island off the coast of Belize.
He is Building His Own Resort
The actor plans to open an eco-resort on the private island of Blackadore Caye. The resort will feature 36 bungalows and 36 estate homes that will be fully powered by renewable, solar energy. It will also utilize filtered rainwater and solo-powered desalinization devices to meet the resort’s water needs.
In addition, all recreational vehicles will have to use clean energy, the food served will be locally sourced and non-reusable plastic will be forbidden. Half of the island will be a wildlife preserve where scientists will be invited to conduct ecological studies. There will also be approximately 20,000 mangrove trees planted on the Island in attempts to replenish its biodiversity.
For his next project, Leonardo is currently in production for the movie American Wolf, based off of author Nate Blakeslee’s book of the same name. The story chronicles the life of an alpha female wolf, named O-Six, who played an important role in maintaining the wolf population of Yellowstone Park.
The book aims to connect people to wildlife and to promote preservation efforts. Sounds way different than his last wolf related movie, The Wolf of Wallstreet, doesn’t it? Well, we did say he is known for his range.
Always Staying Social
Embracing our new age of technology, Leonardo is very active on Instagram and Twitter accounts. He utilizes these platforms to promote his foundation and advocate for numerous other organizations that are dedicated to solving environmental issues.
He has also called on his followers to sign various petitions and to participate in the movements he feels passionate about. Now, that is a social influencer I can get behind.
A New Song for the Earth
Multi-platinum recording artist Lil Dicky recently released a song and video by the name “Earth.” The artist collaborated with a variety of famous musicians to send the message out to younger generations about “getting our act together” and taking care of our planet. Some of the big-names featured include Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Adam Levine and much, much more.
The video was made in collaboration with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and a portion of the song and video’s profits will be distributed to nonprofits that are implementing solutions to climate change. Leo himself also makes an appearance in the video. Upon explaining his creative process, Lil Dicky said “I wanted to make the most entertaining and epic piece of content possible, to get everyone aware and talking. Because it’s now or never… Let’s save the Earth!”