Our UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador wishlist
With lyrics like "I feel my lotus bloom" and "I wanna see your peacock, cock, cock", Katie Perry is certainly an interesting choice for the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF's new Goodwill Ambassador! Here are some of the people we'd love to see UNICEF consider for the role.
As a singer who found fame through reality TV, there are plenty who doubted her fame would last. But her determination, talent, and hard work has seen her career reach almost a decade now. She has portrayed intersectional oppression well, dealing with issues of racism and women's body image in the 2007 critically acclaimed film "Dreamgirls". As someone who has waded through deep tragedy, with the tragic murder of her mother, brother, and nephew, taking up the baton of those who have suffered similarly with their own great difficulties could come very naturally to her.
He may seem a bit "grown up" to be doing kids work, but international acclaim has followed this man's career almost everywhere he has gone. His involvement would direct his legions of devoted fans towards a cause in very desperate need of help. From Sherlock Holmes to Star Trek, Ford Maddox Ford to J. R. R. Tolkien, Benedict Cumberbatch has amassed an impressive collection of culturally resonant roles. He is no stranger to charity, working with Dramatic Need to use creative expression to solve a range of problems in underprivileged communities, and his drawings and sketches are often donated to philanthropic auctions.
Emma Watson's star has risen higher and higher since Harry Potter, with roles in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", the forthcoming "Noah", and aptly "The Bling Ring". But while the character she played was busy stealing fashionable clothes from the pricier boutiques of California, she herself was busy extolling the importance of being ethical while staying fashionable. When she announced her collaboration with People Tree, a fair trade fashion brand, she said: "Fashion is a great way to empower people and give them skills. Rather than give cash to charity you can help people by buying the clothes they make and supporting things they take pride in." Not to mention her wholesome appeal, the pleasure she takes in the simple things, like friends and family, and the fact that she is just an all round nice girl. While other female stars her age seem to be desperate to remove every inch of clothing, Emma is more than happy to keep hers on. She once said in an interview: "What's sexy about saying, 'I'm here with my boobs out and a short skirt… have a look at everything I've got?' My idea of sexy is that less is more. The less you reveal the more people can wonder."
From huge in the larger than life character sense, with his work on the widely lauded BBC TV series "Luther", to huge in the quite literal sense when he starred as Stacker Pentecost in the giant robots vs monsters blockbuster "Pacific Rim", Elba's work has helped further break down several glass ceilings. And while his latest work is arguably far less radical (a white man after all could never play Nelson Mandela) his continued success in what's often described as a difficult environment for non-white actors is a great credit to him. In April 2009 he became the Prince's Trust Anti-Crime ambassador. This is partly just for the goodness of the cause, and also because Elba credits them with helping to start his career.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The Royal couple are definitely a pair who could be counted on to bring a large amount of attention, pomp, and ceremony to whatever charity enlists their aid. Their philanthropic credentials are impressive, offering support and patronage to Sport Relief, The Royal Marsden Hospital, The Red Cross, Centrepoint (a charity helping house the homeless), Sentebale (helping young and vulnerable people in Lesotho), the Tusk Trust (working to preserve wildlife in Africa), East Anglia's Children's Hospices, and of course, the Prince's trust. And for people who are so admired and so famous, their humility and humanity are a credit to them. These two Royals are as much at home with the "little people" as they are with celebrities and heads of state, and both have a profound ability to uplift those around them with their genuine warmth and care. And having welcomed a child of their own this year, the lovely couple are an obvious choice to work on behalf of kids in need.
Despite losing an arm to a shark attack in 2003, Bethany Hamilton has gone on to either win or place highly in eleven major surfing competitions between 2004 and 2009. She overcame tough emotional and physical challenges to keep going with the sport she has been in love with since a child and has never let her disability define her. In fact she is all about encouraging others and has toured schools to talk to young girls struggling with self-esteem issues and the immense pressure they feel to look perfect in today's beauty-focused culture. She has also supported and worked for several major charities reflecting her experience and the causes she is passionate about. These have included the Make A Wish Foundation, World Vision, the Beat the Odds Foundation, and the Women's Sport Foundation. She's had her fair share of battles but always credits God, her faith, and the support of those around her as helping her rise back up again, and it's fitting that she in turn wants to offer this support to others.
Hank and John Green AKA The Vlogbrothers
It's fair to say that of the people on this list, Hank and John Green are the most famous people you've never heard of. John, an award-winning and critically acclaimed young adult novelist, and Hank, performer, entertainer, environmentalist, science advocate, and all round internet renaissance man, together became "The Vlogbrothers" in 2007 when they began a collaborative YouTube project of back and forth videos that spawned the massive 1.6 million subscriber following they have today. Their message, celebrating nerdiness, education, science, and imaging the others complexly, has resonated loudly across the globe. But while there are other internet celebrities who might be better known (frustratingly including Fenton the Dog), Hank and John have done much more for charity than most. Not content with merely setting up their own charity, they started the annual YouTube philanthropy event known as "P4A" or "The Project For Awesome".
Every year on December 17th, Hank and John encourage their followers to post videos in support of their favourite charities, and together with their followers and other internet celebrities, they raise money for all kinds of causes. Among them have been Water.org (whom Hank has personally seen in action in Haiti), The KIND foundation (Kids In Need of Desks), the This Star Won't Go Out foundation (supporting families of children with terminal illnesses), the Harry Potter Alliance (Harry Potter fans co-ordinating disaster relief), and Kiva.org (a microfinance organisation supporting developing world entrepreneurs). Their innovation and passion about making the world better surely means they would be an exceptional team of UNICEF goodwill ambassadors.
This young woman has suffered greatly and fought bravely for the right of young people everywhere to receive the kind of education they deserve and need. She was shot in the head for daring, not only to be educated in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where the Taliban have banned girls from attending school, but for daring to tell the world her story by blogging for the BBC about it under a pseudonym. Since being saved by an operation in the UK, she has become a global icon of the fight to bring education for all, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2013 (only beaten out by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons). Her daring audacity, to face up to men with guns using only her words, is what makes her a truly great figure, and an excellent choice for a global goodwill ambassador of UNICEF.
Pope Francis has, in his relatively short time holding the office of the Holy See, brought about a massive sea change in terms of attitudes to Catholics generally, and by extension to Christianity more broadly. And it is how he's done this that makes him the best candidate for UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador. He has spread the Christian message of love, understanding, and charity all around the world. From the very richest and most powerful, such as President Putin, to the lowest and most rejected in our society, such as Vinicio Riva, the man suffering from neurofibromatosis whom the Pope blessed on 20 November this year. He's even been reported to be secretly leaving the Vatican in disguise to deliver alms to the poor of Rome. With his general role overseeing the Vatican's enormous charitable resources, and in particular his decision shortly after his election to cancel Vatican officials' Christmas bonuses and instead donating that money to charity, his philanthropic experience and spirit are dazzling for all to see.