Leonardo DiCaprio is an Academy Award-winning actor and environmental activist. He achieved international celebrity for his role in the 1997 James Cameron epic, Titanic. He established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998. His foundation grantmaking and his public activism focus on issues of climate change and environmental conservation.
DiCaprio used his Academy Award acceptance speech for his role in 2015’s The Revenant to talk about what he described as the urgency of climate change issues. He has been outspoken on the subject for many years, involved with numerous documentary projects on the issue, and sat on the board of a number of environmental and conservation organizations.
Early Life and Career
Born in 1974 in Los Angeles, California, Leonardo DiCaprio began acting as a child in television and commercials. After moving on to film in the 90s, he earned an Oscar nomination for his role as a mentally disabled young man in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). He was propelled to global celebrity in 1997, when DiCaprio starred in James Cameron’s romantic drama Titanic.
Since then he has had a celebrated career as an actor, often with well-known directors such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, culminating in an Oscar win for his role as Hugh Glass in the 2015 film The Revenant.
Also see Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (nonprofit)
DiCaprio’s 2015 Academy Award acceptance speech highlighted his concern for environmental causes, drawing controversy. But the actor has been involved in philanthropy and activism since 1998, when he established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF).
DiCaprio wrote, narrated, and produced the 2007 environmental documentary The 11th Hour. Since 2010, DiCaprio’s foundation has awarded over $30 million to fund 78 projects in more than 44 countries. In 2013, he organized the “11th Hour” auction. The art auction became the highest-grossing environmental charity event ever after raising $38.8 million. In 2014, DiCaprio was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace for climate change. He sits on the board of the World Wildlife Fund, as well as organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Global Green USA, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. In 2014 he was given a Clinton Global Citizen Award. Partnering with National Geographic, DiCaprio made the 2016 climate change documentary “Before the Flood,” which includes an interview between the actor and President Barack Obama. Other documentary projects produced by DiCaprio include Water Planet, Global Warning, and Cowspiracy. He has spoken before the UN, most recently on the occasion of the Paris Agreement for Climate Change signing.
DiCaprio has drawn criticism for maintaining a celebrity lifestyle that includes frequent use of carbon dioxide-emitting private jets and yachts even as he condemns the consumption of fossil fuels. His alleged ties to Malaysian political figures caught up in a corruption scandal has led a rainforest charity, the Bruno Manser Funds, to demand that he publicly resign from his UN messenger position.