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Leonardo DiCaprio, superstar and environmentalist

Actor, philantropist, icon

Leonardo DiCaprio, superstar and environmentalist Actor, philantropist, icon

Today Leonardo DiCaprio is 45 years old. A date that, rather than a man's birthday, represents the birthday of an icon of modern times, of an immense presence of pop culture and one of the most loved and respected public figures in the world. DiCaprio is the last of the traditional film stars but also the first of a new generation of celebrities. His filmography spans decades and includes a surprising number of unforgettable roles. On the screen, DiCaprio was everyone: the emigrant, the king, the lover, the survivor, the villain, the billionaire, the madman, the gangster, the policeman, the swindler. On the other hand, offscreen he is, to paraphrase Tony Stark, a millionaire, a playboy and above all a philanthropist, as well as one of the first and most committed activists for the defense of the environment and sustainability.

In the history of Hollywood, divism and activism have often gone hand in hand. Among the socially engaged actors over the years we remember Jane Fonda, Harry Belafonte, Bono of U2 and Elizabeth Taylor. But none of them gave what DiCaprio gave to the cause that is close to their heart: environmentalism. Already in 1998, a year after the success of Titanic and two years after the consecration of Romeo + Juliet, at only 22 years of age, he created the Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation, a non-profit that has already worked in over 40 different countries. Over the years he has donated millions for the conservation of fauna in every part of the world, gaining the respect of Putin who called him "a real man", interviewed Clinton and Obama and spoke in front of the United Nations in 2014 in a historic intervention , after becoming official UN ambassador.

When the Paris Agreement was signed in 2016, he was there. When the Indians of Standing Rock protested for their rights, he was there. When in Washington, in 2017, two hundred thousand people marched for the climate, he was there. His efforts were not merely monetary or representative. His documentaries The Eleventh Hour and Before the Flood, which was also distributed free to increase awareness of the climate crisis, are perhaps the most important environmental films of recent times after Al Gore's An Uncomfortable Truth. He bought the island of Blackadore Caye to save the mangroves from deforestation, he went to the Oscars with a Toyota Hybrid, he risked being expelled from Indonesia after exposing the reality behind palm plantations.

Today we talk a lot about climate, everyone knows what an ecological footprint is and recycling is part of our daily lives. The Queen of England has decided to give her wardrobe an eco-friendly twist by not using fur anymore. Even brands such as Gucci, Fendi,  Michael Kors, Colmar and Nike use only ecological fur, while this August 26 during the G7 in Biarritz, 32 luxury brands (now 56 this October) have signed the Fashion Pact, an agreement between companies producers and distributors of the fashion world to fight global warming, protect the oceans and protect biodiversity. This interest does not move only in the upper echelons, but also at the level of the public with a boom in online research for ecological fur, especially among the very young, as evidenced by the Lyst report.

Five years ago, however, when DiCaprio spoke for the first time before the United Nations, the issue was not yet so hot. Queen Elizabeth still used her animal furs and so did Gucci and Prada along with the totality of the fashion system, except perhaps Stella McCartney, always champion of animal rights and environmental causes. Only those who inquired knew about the crisis and the issue did not seem so urgent in the eyes of the public, but it was so in the eyes of DiCaprio and had been so since the 1990s. The actor has also publicly celebrated the Swedish environmental icon Greta Thunberg calling her "a leader of our times" and is now celebrated as one of the most important activists in the world. On the occasion of his birthday we should perhaps ask ourselves: what world would it be if we were all like DiCaprio?