Actor's philanthropic actions speak louder than words

Audiences know him best as Mr. Darcy, but humble humanitarian might be a better pseudonym for Colin Firth.

As an Oxfam ambassador, Firth has challenged Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi over aid issues, helped prevent the deportation of African refugees and met with Ethiopian coffee farmers, which led to the founding of London-based fair-trade coffee chain Progreso. Firth also is a supporter of Survival Intl., an org supporting tribal peoples’ rights, and is co-owner of Eco-Age, a London-based ecological retail shop and consultancy.

But this year’s BAFTA/ L.A.’s humanitarian honoree refuses to be another celebrity with a cause.

“I try to resist the soapbox,” Firth says. “Unfortunately, I think the more you speak out, the chances are greater that you will lose your credibility, so I try to be as strategic as possible.”

Firth’s latest undertaking occurred last month at the London Film Festival, when he launched Brightwide, a website showcasing social and political world cinema.

“Having (exec produced) a documentary (“In Prison My Whole Life”), I noticed that while (social/political) films often don’t get enough exposure, they do make audiences that get to see them want to act. Brightwide is a place where these films can not only be shown and discussed but also a place that lets people know what they can do next.”

Firth’s next philanthropic activity remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, he won’t be boasting about it.

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