After a decade of Best Actor nominations with nothing to show for it, Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home a well-deserved Oscar trophy at this year’s Academy Awards. His riveting performance in The Revenant revealed a depth of talent untapped in prior roles. By portraying the character of fur trapper Hugh Glass, DiCaprio was able to connect his work as a clean-energy activist to his lifelong acting career. DiCaprio proved to the public in his acceptance speech that the passion fueling his respective projects is one and the same, and he is more than capable of succeeding at both.
27 Years in Film
DiCaprio is arguably most well-known for his performance as Jack Dawson in the famous 1997 romance film Titanic, but his acting record stretches back much further. His role as the mentally-disabled “Arnie Grape” in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, has fallen from recent memory but remains one of his most powerful performances to date. After international fame took over in the 90’s, DiCaprio went on to star in a streak of popular films including Catch Me If You Can, Inception, and The Wolf of Wall Street. His most recent turn as Hugh Glass was the first time he chose to engage Mother Nature as a costar.
Environmental Activism and Push for Clean Power
After thanking his family and those who worked alongside him on the film, DiCaprio took his opportunity at the podium to bring nature into the conversation. In his speech, DiCaprio stated that The Revenant crew had to travel to the most southern tip of Earth just to find snow, a problem that has arisen due to rapidly warming temperatures worldwide. He closed with the words, “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much.”
Although many are most likely more familiar with his acting career, DiCaprio’s speech wasn’t out of character. The famous actor has spent the better part of his Hollywood career as an environmental philanthropist and a tireless advocate for clean power. Ever since the 90’s, DiCaprio has educated himself about the environment and climate change and had even established his own foundation in 1998, which is dedicated to the conservation of the world’s natural places and ecosystems as well as clean energy endeavors.
In the nearly two decades since his organization was founded, DiCaprio has worked to become an established speaker at various events concerning global environmental challenges. Some of his recent accomplishments include addressing United Nations leaders about the dangers of climate change and his participation in Manhattan’s People’s Climate March, which demanded action for climate change around the world.
Leonardo DiCaprio has joined Powerhive, an energy solutions company, alongside former UK Climate Change Minister Greg Barker on their advisory board to bring clean, renewable energy in the form of solar electricity to rural communities in the developing world. He has attended a meeting with the Divest-Invest Coalition where he pledged to help end any and all involvements with the fossil fuel industry and invest more time and money into existing renewable energy companies. Traditional energy providers, long tied to the fossil-fuel powered grid, are beginning to incorporate “renewables” such as solar and wind into their overall energy mix. Today, the United States obtains approximately 10% of its power from renewable sources – but this is not enough to make a noticeable dent in the worsening effects of global climate change. As carbon emissions continue to rise, it is becoming more evident that our current energy sources are no longer sustainable for our planet. DiCaprio hopes to use his prestige to encourage the world to move away from unsustainable resource mining and firmly believes in living in a world without pollution and focusing on clean energy.
Using Film to Spread Awareness
Taking advantage of his position in Hollywood and the film industry, DiCaprio has taken on multiple documentary projects with the goal to promote environmental conservation and renewable energy usage. In 2007, he created, produced, and narrated The 11th Hour, which addressed Earth’s problems, specifically mentioning species extinction, deforestation, and global warming and calls for action by encouraging viewers to rethink their human activity. DiCaprio executive produced Cowspiracy, which speaks about the environmental effects of raising cattle for consumption and narrated Carbon, which warns about dirty forms of energy and promotes cleaner and more sustainable forms of energy such as solar, wind, and hydro power.
Most recently, DiCaprio partnered with Netflix to produce a series of environmental documentaries under the title, Green World Rising. Their plan is to film documentaries and docu-series, focusing on environmentalism and conservation, and make them readily available for audiences around the world.
Through funding, public campaigns, and media projects, DiCaprio has worked to bring much-needed attention to the very real problem of worldwide climate change. His first Oscar win, a momentous occasion, shone a light on the need for cleaner, greener, energy. We all may not be celebrities, we but can do our part to join him and do all we can to help end our addiction to fossil fuels.
Written by Maria Rosita
Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy.
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