With another year over, it is the perfect time to look back and reflect on some of the biggest moments and names in entertainment. Throughout the year, we have been shocked, saddened, pleased and even inspired by various celebrities. While some continue to make us question whether they truly do have a heart somewhere deep inside of them, others are restoring our faith in humanity by working to bring a positive change to the world with their fame and fortune.
Therefore, I have compiled a list of 10 Inspirational Celebrities of 2015.
While she may be more known for her wild antics and lack of clothing, singer Miley Cyrus has devoted a lot of her time, money and effort to raising awareness for numerous different communities who are in need. For one, Miley continued to build her organization, “The Happy Hippie Foundation,” this year. Through this, Miley aims to rally the younger demographic to help her fight injustices that homeless youth, LGBTQ and other vulnerable communities face. Throughout the year, Miley has featured numerous youth – including homeless, transgender, gay, bisexual – on the foundation’s social media pages, allowing them to share their stories and personal experiences with the injustices they have faced.
In addition, Miley also caused quite a stir this year when she posted an Instagram picture asking her followers to sign a petition against the British Columbia wolf cull. And while many celebrities post a link to various causes regularly, Miley took it a step further and actually flew out to Canada to visit the locals who are involved in protesting the province’s wolf partial-extermination plans. Miley flew out to B.C. coast’s small community of Klemtu, allowing her to gain further knowledge and ultimately raise more awareness for the controversial policy.
Although it doesn’t look like Miley is planning to stray from her wild ways anytime soon, it does seem that she is becoming increasingly more devoted to her philanthropic causes.
Like most of us, Caitlyn Jenner undoubtedly has her flaws, but I still think she deserves a spot on this list. This year was arguably the biggest in Caitlyn’s 66 years (which is saying a lot considering she won an Olympic gold medal in 1976). In April, Caitlyn publicly came out as transgender through an interview with Diane Sawyer. Since then, Caitlyn has been devoting much of her time to learning as much as she can about the transgender community. She has quickly become an advocate for the community, as she tries to direct some of her overwhelming publicity towards it.
No matter what your particular opinion is on the reality TV star, I think we can all agree that coming out was an incredibly brave. She knew that it was going to garner worldwide attention, which entailed a fair share of scrutiny and hate. However, she once again displayed her Olympic-level strength by overcoming her fear of judgment and embracing her true self. Ultimately, Caitlyn has shown the world that it is never too late to be yourself and has helped expand the world’s perception of who “your self” could really be.
Although society, for the most part, is moving forward in terms of eliminating racism and unjustified discrimination, there are still plenty of milestones that people of color are working towards. Back in September, How To Get Away With Murder’s Viola Davis became the first black actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama.
And while this was a huge, praiseworthy accomplishment, it was truly Viola’s speech that made the most waves. The actress began her speech by quoting African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, “’In my mind I see a line, and over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” Viola went on to point out that the only thing that stopped a black woman from winning this award much sooner was opportunity. Considering Scandal’s debut in 2012 marks the first time a black woman starred as a lead in a network TV drama, Viola couldn’t have been any more accurate.
You may have quickly glanced over this headline on the side of your Facebook feed, but it is truly a story that needs to be fully heard. In 2012, nine-time Emmy Award winner Sam Simon was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. Simon, who wrote for such shows as Taxi and Cheers, as well as co-created The Simpsons, left the Earth showing just how compassionate a man he was. After years of dedication to animals, Simon donated his $100 million fortune to numerous animal-related charities, including PETA. In addition, Simon also left generous endowments in his will for these animal-saving organizations to ensure his legacy lives on for years after his death.
Evidently, even after all of his success, Simon was able to recognize when he had far more than he or his family needed in terms of money. Thus, his ability to maintain his humility translated to the saving of countless animals’ lives.
At only 25 years old, Emma Watson has done more to create positive change than most celebrities do their whole lives. Unlike a lot of the younger demographic that seems to jump on a new charitable bandwagon whenever it appears on their newsfeed, Emma has proven that she is a force that is here to stay when it comes to advocating for women’s rights. While she has garnered some publicity from her cause-related efforts, Emma has gone above and beyond of what is expected from the typical celebrity. Emma has time and time again shown that she is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about gender equality. She even began 2015 at the World Economic Forum, where she spoke about the topic.
Emma is inspiring as she shows that you don’t need to be a certain age to have a real impact on the world. Through learning about women’s rights and personal experience, Emma has been able to bring a refreshing perspective to the prevalent issue. In addition, in 2015 Malala Yousafzai revealed that she had titled herself a “feminist” after she heard Emma Watson delivering a speech about it. Since, Malala has made incredible impact on female education in the Middle East, as well as became the youngest ever Nobel-prize laureate. Evidently, Emma’s impact has been vast.
While it is nice to see celebrities stay on a good path for the duration of their career, I think it can be even more inspirational to see celebrities find their way after stumbling through some hard times. Although Robert Downey Jr. may be one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood now, things weren’t always so good for the actor. In the public eye, Robert struggled with addiction and reckless behavior throughout his younger years in Hollywood. However, since he is lucky enough to be seemingly one of the few that made it out to the other side, he has ensured to devote notable efforts to spreading his good fortune.
One of the most notable charitable stories in 2015 was when Robert presented a 3-D bionic arm that was created to look like it belonged to his superhero character Ironman to a young boy who was born with a partially developed right arm. Robert further used the high publicity surrounding the Iron Man franchise to raise money for Julia’s House, a children’s hospice center. He eventually raised over $200 million for the British organization by raffling off the chance to be his date for the film’s premiere. Furthermore, Robert not only shows that you are in charge of your future, but he also acts as a perfect example of how celebrities can easily use their projects to be not only profitable for themselves, but also those deserving and in need.
Jennifer Lawrence/Amy Schumer
Although these two have diverse careers and unique aspects that make them admirable, in 2015 I think they both served as inspiration for one common thing: being yourself. Cookie cutter actors and actresses surround the two Hollywood leading ladies, yet they both still manage to stay true to their quirky and hilarious selves. It is really no wonder that they are also best friends.
To me, people are tired of seeing the perfectly made-up, well-rehearsed celebrity and are more intrigued by someone who is willing to be candid, even when it comes down to the not-so-glamorous facts of life. Therefore, I think Jennifer and Amy serve as perfect inspiration of being real, instead of putting on a mask to try and fool the world into thinking you are completely put together all the time. They both prove that perfect isn’t necessarily what we should be striving for.
Just like Emma Watson, actress and singer Zendaya has also shown that age is nothing more than a number. At only 19 years old, the former Disney star has shown she is one of the brightest stars in Hollywood. In February, she faced her first real big scandal when Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic made a controversial, racially charged comment about Zendaya’s dreadlocks (that she wore to the 87th Academy Awards). While most stars her age would’ve either stayed quiet or said something that would have made the situation worse, Zendaya decided approach the situation head-on, while still remaining cordial with Giuliana, 41. Ultimately, Zendaya took the opportunity to raise awareness of racism and stereotypes that are evidently still prevalent in today’s society. While the young star is constantly poking fun at herself on social media, she still manages to carry and present herself better than stars double or even triple her age. I think she serves as an inspiration not only to the everyday folk, but also her fellow Hollywood up-and-comers.
Being President of the United States is no easy feat and you are bound to receive ample criticism no matter what you do. However, Obama has continued to stay calm, cool and collected in the midst of some incredibly stressful and polarizing situations that took place in 2015. As America was hit by a wave of scary events this year – including mass shootings, racism scandals, and the list goes on – Obama has maintained his fresh take on presidency, which is much more emotional and candid than previous overly-calculated politicians who have held the position. Although his reign as POTUS is coming to an end, I think that Obama will continue to inspire the world through his ability to relate and his determination to tackle the country – and the world’s – never-ending list of problems, one battle at a time.
Angelina Jolie may not be the most surprising celebrity to make this list, as she is known for her philanthropic work. However, 2015 was a particularly special year for the actress, as she opened up about a health crisis that ended up inspiring thousands of other women to put their health before modern beauty standards. The usually private star decided to talk publicly about her decision to undergo a double mastectomy – getting both of her breasts removed – when she found out that she had a 87% chance of developing cancer. Not only is this a tough decision for the normal everyday women, it is particularly hard when working in an industry that is so obsessed with appearance.
Fortunately, Angelina chose to come out to the public about undergoing the operation and has since created what has been dubbed “The Angelina Jolie Effect” – an increased awareness and understanding about breast cancer treatment, surgery and preventative measures amongst the general public. Angelina was able to prioritize her own health and family’s future before society’s obsession with fitting into what is expected of a women and their physical figure.