By Polly Conway, Common Sense Media
Celebrities usually become popular for how they look on-screen, at awards shows, or on Instagram. But some might say stars have an extra responsibility to show their fans how to change the world.
These picks are great role models for kids and teens who want their celebs to stand for something. This diverse group clearly takes that concept to heart — they’ve all found their own ways to make a difference, from upholding important values and doing meaningful work to drawing attention to causes that matter. Kids can visit the websites of their favorite stars to see how they’re giving back to the community and follow in their footsteps, or they may simply get inspired to explore local volunteer options (check out our own list of resources for a start).
Rowan Blanchard. Best known for her role as Riley in Disney’s Girl Meets World, this multitalented teen can act, sing, and write. With nearly 5 million Instagram followers, she uses her account to speak out on issues close to her heart, including feminism, political activism, and transgender rights (Blanchard herself identifies as queer). Did we mention she’s only 15?
John Legend. His 2013 mega-hit song “All of Me” may still be in your head, but this musician, songwriter, and actor (recently seen as a jazz — funk bandleader in La La Land) also knows how to give back. His philanthropic efforts include raising awareness for Hurricane Katrina victims, performing for U.S. military troops, serving as a member of the Young Global Leaders, and sitting on the boards of at least three charities.
Lin-Manuel Miranda. This guy just never stops! His breakout Broadway musical, Hamilton, which he wrote and starred in, has inspired countless kids, teens, and adults to learn more about American history and theater. Right after that, he composed and performed some incredible music for recent Disney smash Moana. He’s about to star in the Mary Poppins remake, is an outspoken advocate for arts education, and spreads goodwill and positivity daily through his Twitter account.
Halima Aden. Aden made waves and history last year as the first person to wear a hijab in an American beauty pageant, proving that beauty doesn’t always mean going with the flow. The Miss Minnesota contestant also bravely sported a burkini (a modest piece of swimwear) during the swimsuit portion, staying true to herself and inspiring many young Muslim girls in the process.
The Rock. It’s nearly impossible to feel anything but love for Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock. This utterly charismatic wrestler-turned-actor recently lent his voice to the 2016 blockbuster animated pic Moana, which opened doors to talk about his own heritage as a Pacific Islander. He’s a champion of all things Hawaii and filmed the 2017 Jumanji reboot in Honolulu.
Yara Shahidi. This 16-year-old Iranian-American star of the hit sitcom Black-ish may soon be starring in her own spin-off series — she calls her portrayal of angsty teen Zoey “my activism through art.” Also a model, she’s spoken out for more representation and diversity in Hollywood and the media. Another cool thing? Shahidi embraces her natural hair, serving as a role model for young girls who feel the pressure to process and straighten their own hair.
Nyle DiMarco. Yeah, he’s won both Dancing with the Stars and America’s Next Top Model, but the handsome and talented DiMarco is most devoted to his work as an activist for the deaf community. Last year he started his own foundation that helps deaf children get access to the resources they need. This guy’s an all-around winner!
Aly Raisman. This 22-year-old Olympic gymnast has won two gold medals and led her teams to glory in 2012 and 2016. She’s an athlete who’s both physically and mentally powerful; known for speaking out about body-image issues, Raisman is a spokesperson for Reebok’s #perfectnever campaign. When she was in junior high, boys mocked her for looking “too strong,” to which she responded on Instagram: “My muscular arms that were considered weird or gross when I was younger have made me one of the best gymnasts on the planet.” Go, girl!
Chance the Rapper. Wildly popular musician Chancelor Bennett, aka Chance the Rapper, expresses ideas about life, faith, and love through his independently released mixtapes. But he’s also been devoted to charitable causes since he was a teen, especially in his hometown of Chicago. One of his coolest endeavors is his Warmest Winter initiative, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure Chicago’s homeless have warm jackets.
Originally published at medium.com