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20 Celebrities With Diplomatic & Political Ties (PHOTOS)

Not satisfied with shining brightly just onscreen or onstage, plenty of stars get involved in politics and diplomacy, from traveling the world on behalf of the United Nations to rallying for presidential candidates and befriending dictators and foreign dignitaries. 

 

 

Here are 20 celebrities who stepped onto the political and dilomatic stage. 

 

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1Angelina Jolie

She went from Hollywood wild child to the highest-profile celebrity goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, traveling the world to bring attention to a wide array of issues. And she's continued to expand her role with the organization, visiting Iraq, a Syrian refugee camp and other places as special envoy for the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees. 

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2Eva Longoria

Earning the title of TV's highest-paid actress during her time on Desperate Housewives wasn't enough for Eva Longoria, who, aside from becoming a producer and director, also branched out into politics. She worked closely with both Obama campaigns and served as a surrogate at rallies in Latino communities nationwide. In 2014, she founded the Latino Victory Project to encourage political involvement, and is even hoping to bring politics to ABC with an upcoming drama series based on political brothers and Democratic superstars, Julian and Joaquin Castro.

Image via White House

4George Clooney

Respected actor George Clooney's longtime outspokenness on state-sponsored genocide in Darfur helped focus global attention to the embattled South Sudanese region and even landed him in jail (he was arrested for protesting at the Sudanese embassy in Washington D.C.). It also landed him in the White House to talk about Darfur with President Obama, for whose campaigns he raised money. His political connections deepened with his marriage to a renowned human rights lawyer (the former Amal Alamuddin), so a future in politics seems inevitable for the actor (think Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Clnt Eastwood), but so far he has demurred.

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5Bono

He's met with every sitting president since George H.W. Bush, so to dismiss Bono as just another celebrity do-gooder is to underestimate his powers of persuasion in the corridors of power: His pow-wows with various POTUS have resulted in millions in aid packages to AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa

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6Russell Simmons

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons went from mobilizing thousands of young people at rallies protesting harsh mandatory sentences for minor drug offenses to traveling to Washington D.C. to press legislators in person to reform the infamous Rockefeller drug laws. Partly as a result of his push, the laws were changed. He's also campaigned for or endorsed several candidates, including Dennis Kucinich and New York mayor Bill deBlasio.

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7Rosario Dawson

She's been in plenty of commercial and critical successes, from Sin City to 25th Hour, but Rosario Dawson's accomplished one of her biggest successes outside Hollywood. Seeing a need for Latinos to be more involved in the political process, she founded the non-partisan Voto Latino in 2000. It's still going strong.

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8Susan Sarandon

Her lefty politics and causes, from abortion rights to social justice, are well known in and outside Hollywood, but Susan Sarandon has also pushed for women's rights worldwide as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and has worked to end poverty as an ambassador for the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. She's participated in several Democratic campaigns, most notably hitting the streets for John Edwards in 2008 presidential race.

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10Sean Penn

Whether or not his views are palatable, combative actor Sean Penn puts his money where mouth is when it comes to politics. He traveled to Iraq in 2002 to protest the upcoming American invasion and  called for the impeachment of Pres. George W. Bush, calling him and his Cabinet "villanously and criminally obscene people." That earned him the friendship of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, whose death he mourned. Penn has also traveled to Argentina, where he met with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to express support for the country in its dispute with the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands. 

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11Matt Damon

An outspoken Democrat who endorsed President Obama, Matt Damon worked hard to get progressive Massachusetts academic Elizabeth Warren elected as senator in 2012, hosting fundraisers and even making robocalls on her behalf. The co-founder of water.org, which advocates for clean water worldwide, he's also long been involved in United Nations' campaigns, including women's rights.

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13Harry Belafonte

He's been a respected civil rights activist since the '50s, and has never been afraid to let his lefty flag fly. But Harry Belafonte depleted some of the good will around him when he traveled to Venezuela to visit Pres. Hugo Chavez in 2006 (along with actor Danny Glover, scholar Cornel West, and union activist Dolores Huerta), called President George W. Bush, "the greatest terrorist in the world" and said that millions of Americans supported Chavez's revolution. 

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14Shakira

Being a global star may come with privileges, but for pop superstar Shakira, it also comes with responsibilities. As a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, she's traveled to disaster sites around the world and has met with world leaders, spoken in Congress, and coaxed Latin American and European countries into committing hundreds of millions to the cause of childhood education. In 2012, she and President Obama successfully pushed the Colombian government to grant land titles to Afro-Colombian communities who had been pushed out of their ancestral lands. 

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15Robert Redford

One of Holllywood's most left-leaning celebs, Robert Redford is also comfortable in "Hollywood for Ugly People," aka Washington D.C.'s political and diplomatic circles. He's testified in front of Congress and the United Nations. His political ties are deep and varied: He's visited former Cuban leader Fidel Castro several times and even reportedly went scuba diving with him.

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16Nicole Kidman

She may have an air of glamour, but Nicole Kidman's signature cause has been violence against women. As a goodwill ambassador for UN Women, she has raised awareness about the issue and traveled the world to help amplify oppressed and abused women's voices. She's also testified before the House's Committee on Foreign Affairs in support of the Violence Against Women Act.

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18Mia Farrow

She may look frail but don't mess with Mia Farrow when she's fighting for social causes. As a Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations' Children's Fund, Farrow successfully pressured China to stop shielding the Sudanese government from U.N. security council sanctions for genocide in Darfur—basically by shaming the government, which was getting ready for the Beijing Games, and Steven Spielberg, the Games' artistic adviser. It was a humanitarian, diplomatic, and political coup.    

 

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19Tom Selleck

Actors Charlton Heston, Clint Eastwood, and Chuck Norris may be better known for their  pro-gun views, but—who knew?—Tom Selleck is actually the one with his finger on the trigger, as spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, who took over when Heston stepped down due to failing health, and is also a member of the NRA's board of directors. 

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20Kid Rock

An unabashed fiscal conservative who is pro guns and has entertained troops in the Middle East several times, Kid Rock endorsed Mitt Romney's bid for presidency, describing Romney as "the most decent mother------" I've ever met in my life." 

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