Redefining the Role of America's Sweetheart

Journey of Action was in Los Angeles in November to attend the launch party of Young Artists for Peace and Justice. Inspired by her experiences in Haiti before and after the earthquake, actress Olivia Wilde created YAPJ with friend and fellow YAPJ enthusiast Barbara Burchfield to mobilize America's Generation Y to empower youth in the developing world through education.

As members of this generation are changing the traditional systems of business, non-profits, and education, Olivia Wilde is a part of this generation's actresses who are redefining what it means to be America's sweetheart.

Wilde is the co-executive director of Artists for Peace and Justice and sits on the foundation board of the ACLU Southern California. Wilde's activism goes beyond making PSA videos. She is not just a spokeswoman for the organizations she supports; she volunteers in the field and is passionate and knowledgeable about the causes she promotes.

Like her fellow Millennial celebrity activists, Rosario Dawson and Amber Heard, Wilde is not afraid of alienating herself from certain audiences. They choose diverse acting roles, instead of typical romantic comedy roles, and their activism is just as important to them as their latest film. They would rather speak out and stay true to their beliefs than pretend not to have them.

Dawson co-founded the non-partisan organization Voto Latino in 2004, which seeks to maximize American Latino youth civic involvement by generating voter turnout and increasing political involvement. She supports numerous other organizations, like the Lower East Side Girls Club.

Heard, a rising star who has appeared in the films Pineapple Express and Zombieland and will soon be featured as the female lead opposite Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary, recently came out as a lesbian. Most young stars who are just starting to break through in Hollywood would be fearful of coming out, but not Heard. As she told

I hate the idea of a label just as much as anyone else but I'm with who I'm with, I love who I love and I'm if not a better actress than I was yesterday and my personal life should have no effect on that. I think that the injustice of people staying in the closet is more than I can bear with a clear conscience and I couldn't sleep at night if I was a part of that problem, if I was part of the lies.

Besides speaking out for equality, she works with the United Nation's Girl Up campaign and Amnesty International.

As media continues to become decentralized, celebrities now have the ability to influence and share information as traditional media outlets. Wilde, Dawson, and Heard are conscious of this power. They all use their personal websites and Twitter accounts to spread awareness and inspire their fans to get involved and discover their own passions.

In a culture that is obsessed with celebrities and their shortcomings, Wilde, Dawson, and Heard are setting the bar high for fellow and future actresses who desire to become this generation's role models.

Below is our webisode from the launch party of Young Artists for Peace and Justice. Keep an eye out for YAPJ this spring, as they are teaming up with the Global Poverty Project's Hugh Evans and Bobby Bailey to hit up 100 college campuses in 100 days with 1.4 Billion Reason, a presentation that will change everything you think you know about charity, the poor, and an individual's role in the globalized world.