More than just a sexy vampire, Ian Somerhalder is a heartthrob with a heart of gold.
With his signature half-smile and perfectly bedhead hair, when Somerhalder isn’t playing bad boy bloodsucker Damon Salvatore on "The Vampire Diaries," he’s busy making the world a better place. From publicizing the plight of individual animals to creating his own environmentally-active foundation, Somerhalder proves once and for all that green is the new sexy.
1. He Tweets for Good
Rather than merely jumping on the PR bandwagon for the bigger mediagenic issues, Somerhalder supports causes both large and small. Case in point, his regular tweets urging his nearly 1.8 million Twitter followers to take notice of the plights of specific animals.
Among others, he has spread the word about Britain’s last circus elephant, Anne; he took the Louisiana Department of Wildlife to finger-wagging task for allowing a tiger to be caged at a roadside attraction; and he urged his fans to sign a petition on behalf of Lennox the Belfast therapy dog who was unjustly seized from his family by authorities.
2. He Gives New Meaning to “Pet Causes”
While some celebrities spend their downtime frolicking in St. Barts, Somerhalder spends his in St. Tammany’s -- St. Tammany Humane Society in Covington, Louisiana, that is.
There’s something unmistakably humble about actively supporting one’s hometown animal shelter. Aside from working directly with the animals there, he strives hard to raise awareness for the shelter. His efforts have included some creative adoption incentives -- and in November of 2010 he hosted a fundraising event, Unleashed! Bash on the Bayou, to raise money for the charity.
3. He Gets His Hands Dirty
Manning a telethon line is admirable (above with Philippe Cousteau, Ted Danson and Deepak Chopra on "Larry King Live: Disaster in the Gulf Telethon") but after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, Somerhalder made a splash by going to Louisiana, rolling up his sleeves, and digging in.
As he explained to The Times-Picayune:
I grew up in that bayou, in those marshes. Having fished all the coastline in Louisiana and Mississippi, I know how delicate that ecosystem is. The thought of that oil sinking into the root systems of those plants, killing the oysters, crabs and shrimp, sends chills down your spine. I had to be there now.
Along with visiting damaged areas and helping with wildlife, Somerhalder shot public-service announcements for the St. Tammany Humane Society and New Orleans’ Audubon Nature Institute, both of which were involved in animal rescue efforts related to the oil spill.
No fly-by-night activist, a year later he was still working on the issue. He wrote on onearth.org:
A year after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, dozens of dead baby dolphins are washing ashore in the Gulf of Mexico; oyster populations are devastated, crippling a multi-billion dollar industry and the tens of thousands of jobs that go with it; and Gulf residents continue to complain of lingering health problems that they believe were caused by the BP oil spill. Despite what you may read in the mainstream media, the oil has not gone away.
4. He Plugs for Alternative Energy
Mr. Somerhalder goes to Washington! This star doesn't take the day off to shop or sleep, he does things like attend the Washington Energy Summit in D.C. While there he met with members of both houses of Congress to discuss the importance of alternative energy and technology.
To this end, he has also partnered with the portable energy company Go Green Mobile Power, a cool operation that supplies alternatively-powered mobile generators to Hollywood
-- as Somerhalder explains, they "are working to create and use green energy technology harnessing the power of solar, wind and biomass fuels to make clean energy with the impact reducing our carbon emissions globally."
5. He Fights Cruelty on an International Level
Somerhalder has been vocal about the Canadian government’s allowance of slaying seals for fur, as well as the killing of dolphins and whales in the Faroe Islands -- but the discovery that 100 sled dogs had been killed in British Columbia led Somerhalder to inspired action. He started a petition on change.org, asking for crucial changes to protect British Columbia's animals from such atrocities.
More than 60,000 people signed the petition which attracted the attention of the government-appointed Sled Dog Task Force.
The task force cited Somerhalder’s suggested amendments for "increased penalty provisions, new requirements for the inspection of commercial operations and the establishment of Standards of Care" in its final report. These and other amendments were presented to the government, which passed the recommended amendments into law. British Columbia now has the strongest anti-cruelty laws in Canada. Go, Ian!
6. He Speaks for the Sea
Somerhalder loves the ocean as much as terra firma. Above the actor is pictured with on- and off-screen co-star, Nina Dobrey, and President of La Mer, Maureen Case, attending World Ocean Day 2011.
In the meantime, between seasons of "The Vampire Diaries," Somerhalder took on the hosting gig for Planet Green's Blue August on the Discovery Channel (our parent company) -- with a series of specials exploring the ocean and the life within.
Traveling to Trinidad with the Planet Green team, he had the chance to see leatherback sea turtles -- an endangered species on whose behalf he’s been fighting for. He even helped to transform a beach into a nesting ground for the little guys.
7. He Started His Own Foundation
To best mobilize his efforts, Somerhalder created the Ian Somerhalder Foundation in late 2010 -- an non-profit whose mission is to “empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects that positively impact the planet and its creatures.”
According to the mission statement, long-term goals will focus on: habitat and biodiversity, clean energy and animals, with specific projects in reforestation, biodiversity, extinction and species-specific sterilization methods of domestic pets. Short-term goals are inviting everyone to get involved, creating teams of passionate volunteers, and fund-raising.
More than just lending his name to a foundation, Somerhalder has proven to be very hands-on, as evidenced by much of his action, including his testimony before congress on behalf of the foundation.
It doesn’t get much sexier than that…