Nonprofit Uses Star Power to Bring Environment to the Spotlight


EMA
Film and television star Rosario Dawson gardens with the EMA at Westminster Avenue Elementary School in Venice, California.

If environmental concerns found a wider audience in the last three decades, The Environmental Media Association (EMA) has played a significant role in it. Based in Beverly Hills, the nonprofit has brought star power to educating the public on environmental issues. So much so that, in 1993, then Vice President Al Gore praised the organization with no other words than these: “I can say with no exaggeration no group has had a larger impact on the thinking Americans bring to the environment.”

The EMA was founded in 1989 by Alan Horn, current Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, and Norman Lear, television writer and producer. The EMA “believes that through television, film and music, the entertainment community has the power to influence the environmental awareness of millions of people” according to the organization’s website. Their activism and the ensuing results have proven this hypothesis right.

Robert Redford, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, and Brad Pitt are only a few of the celebrities that have been associated with EMA’s work. Its board of directors include widely known celebrities such as Maroon 5, Matthew Rhys, Nicole Richie, Ted Turner, and Olivia Wilde. These celebrities collaborate with an advisory board, whose members include the directors of Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International, among others.

Every year, scores of celebrities attend the EMA Awards, where the entertainment industry’s environmental efforts are celebrated. Invitations to the gala are printed on recycled paper, and the food is always organic. But the event is most famous for its green carpet, where celebrities pose after arriving in hybrid cars.

Among EMA’s projects, one has an immediate effect on the environment: EMA Green Seal is a certificate awarded to films and television shows that make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Mad Men, Black Swan, The Hulk, Life of Pi, Moneyball, 50 Shades of Grey, and The Martian are among recent recipients.

“Our job is to use familiar faces to role model and motivate” explains EMA President Debbie Levin in an interview with Planet Experts. “That is our mission, to use celebrity and be the voice of the environmental community.” So far, it’s working.