Leonardo DiCaprio
Images via Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com

Leonardo DiCaprio: King of our world

by Georgia Van Cuylenburg

There are thousands of women and men out there who have been calling Leonardo DiCaprio an angel, ever since he held Rose’s arms out at the bow of the Titanic. Just ask the millions of animals, species of plants and natural wonders he has helped save.

Leonardo DiCaprio recently hosted the inaugural gala for his namesake foundation. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is dedicated to protecting Earth’s last wild places and implementing solutions that create a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world.

The golden screen heartthrob was joined by dozens of his celebrity buddies for an event that took place at the Domaine Bertaud Belieu vineyard on the French Riviera and featured performances from Bono, Julian Lennon and Robin Thicke. This one event raised an amazing $25 million to help protect Earth’s last remaining wild areas.

Since 1998, Leonardo’s foundation has been working on pressing environmental and humanitarian issues through grantmaking, campaigning and media projects. The areas of focus for he and the foundation include land, oceans and species conservation, climate change and disaster relief.

The actor opened the evening with a passionate speech about the Foundation: “Today we stand at the 11th Hour – facing a tipping point of environmental crises unprecedented in human history. Not since the age of the dinosaurs have so many species of plants and animals become extinct in such a short period of time. We must now make an effort to protect the rich biodiversity that could allow nature to eventually recover. The good news is there are solutions to these massive problems. Efforts like tonight will start addressing them.”

And boy did the crowd get to addressing them. U2 front man Bono wowed with a duet of “Stand By Me” with Julian Lennon, before putting his guitar up for auction, which raised $1 million. Leonardo opened the live auction, with the first item for sale being his own Harley-Davidson motorcycle signed by himself, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.

The highest bid of the night was from Len Blavatnik, who splashed out $6 million for a Damien Hirst sculpture, Golden Myth. Another lucky bidder spent $2.4 million for a walk-on role in Leonardo’s next movie.

So want to know what Leo is putting his and his guests’ money towards? Here is a quick rundown of the incredible work they have done to date:

• Protecting tigers from extinction in Nepal.
• Saving the largest remaining block of rainforest in Sumatra, home to wild tigers, orangutans, elephants and two indigenous tribes.
• Protecting our oceans overfishing and establishing marine reserves, the two highest ecological priorities identified by scientists.
• Saving sharks by securing international trade restrictions for five species of threatened sharks.
• Protecting Antarctica and its marine reserves.
• Providing 430,000 people in Tanzania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Darfur with sustainable access to clean water.

Still not convinced Leo is your kind of dream boat? Here are a few things Leo does when he isn’t running his own foundation and shooting a film or two: serves on the board of the World Wildlife FundOceans 5, Pristine Seas, Natural Resources Defense Council, and International Fund for Animal Welfare. He also worked with 24 orphaned children from the SOS Children’s Village in Maputo, Mozambique for his film, Blood Diamond.

DiCaprio has made several films to educate the public about environmental issues, including The 11th Hour. He also serves as the Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Palisades-based Reef Check organization. And in 1998, he donated $35,000 towards the “Leonardo DiCaprio Computer Center” at the Los Feliz branch of the Los Angeles Public Library – the site of his childhood home.

I think it is safe to say whether or not his eternally boyish looks are your thing, the astoundingly impactful work that Leonardo DiCaprio does behind the scenes makes him a true leading man, on and off the screen, and a true Hollywood Soul Angel.

Georgia Van Cuylenburg

About Georgia Van Cuylenburg

Georgia is a comedian, writer and actress who started her production company to create work that makes people laugh and makes a difference. Through her entertainment and philanthropic work she is committed to sharing her personal trials to help others, and to having children around the world believe in their magic. Follow Georgia on Twitter @georgiavanc and YouTube

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