As celebrities descend on DC for the White House Correspondents' Dinner, strategist Kimball Stroud and CAA Foundation co-exec director Judee Ann Williams reflect on the power of the "Hollywood Lobby."
Ben Affleck, founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, and Sen. Robert Menendez arrive at a 2014 Senate hearing on the Congo.
How are celebrities using their influence to do good here in DC? Judee Ann Williams: They care deeply about the [nonprofit] organizations and NGOs they’re working with, and coming here to advocate for them on Capitol Hill can go a long way. These are people that have spent a lot of time in the trenches, bearing witness to the work that’s being done.
Is Washington uniquely equipped for this conversation? Kimball Stroud: More filmmakers—especially of documentaries—are looking at DC, because this is where legislators can see a film and change policy and make a difference. A perfect example is The Invisible War. Legislators—Kirsten Gillibrand, Claire McCaskill, and Barbara Boxer—saw in the film that rape was occurring in the military and that nothing was happening, and laws started passing, things started changing. That film opened their eyes.
How has the opportunity for celebrities to influence policy grown? KS: When the American Film Institute brings their documentary filmmakers to town, they do a day on the Hill and teach them how to make a difference. It’s so much smarter now. JAW: There are so many great storytellers in every channel of pop culture—gaming, film, television, music—and with how much people consume pop culture today, there’s no better platform to tie in social good.