Leaders of African nations are streaming into town this week for the multi-nation summit the White House is hosting, but the official delegations should rest assured that their interests have long been well-tended to here in the U.S.
A legion of A-listers, from Oprah to Madonna to Brangelina, has Africa’s back, making the continent one of the hottest causes in Hollywood. Here are six celebs who’ve taken their glam-advocacy to Washington:
Ben Affleck — The actor has serious chops on Congolese issues, having traveled extensively in the region and founded the nonprofit Eastern Congo Initiative. Earlier this year, though, the GOP-controlled House Foreign Relations Committee reportedly deemed him not sufficiently expert to testify. The Senate counterpart, on the other hand, welcomed his testimony on Congo’s challenges.
Bono — Perhaps the continent’s biggest celebrity advocate, Mr. Paul Hewson, has visited Capitol Hill multiple times urging debt relief and AIDS prevention, dating back to the days before Africa advocacy was a boldface cause. The founder of the ONE campaign is such a regular that he counts at least a few senators (including Vermont Democrat Pat Leahy and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch) as actual pals.
George Clooney — The debonair actor last classed up the joint (that would be the Capitol building) in 2012, when he testified in the Senate about his first-hand knowledge of the violence along the Sudanese border. Swooning (if not enlightenment) ensued.
Charlize Theron — The South Africa native offered star power (but little sizzle — her performance was reportedly rather flat) when she came to the Capitol last year to talk AIDS prevention in Africa.
Don Cheadle — In 2005, the “Hotel Rwanda” actor traveled with five members of Congress (in a delegation headed by California Republican Rep. Ed Royce) to refugee camps on the Darfur border region. Upon their return, Cheadle came to Capitol Hill to brief the media on what they saw.
Jessica Alba — When South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup, Alba took to Washington to talk up 1GOAL, an initiative linked to the games aimed at universal education in Africa.