Hugh Jackman credits his parents with teaching him the importance of giving back — and Paul Newman with showing him how to marry celebrity with good works.
The “Les Miserables” star, who’s getting a star on the Walk of Fame today, created Laughing Man Industries to funnel funds to entrepreneurs after meeting a coffee farmer in Ethiopia three years ago.
“I’ve long been a fan of Paul Newman and what he did was so smart. He found a way to give back and create jobs and create a fantastic product,” Jackman says. “When my friend who was in the coffee business said he was thinking about getting into it, we did the Paul Newman thing with coffee and tea with Laughing Man.”
David Steingard serves as CEO, with Jackman doing his part to promote the business and bring fellow celebrities such as “Les Mis” co-star Russell Crowe to the premises. The company has two outposts in Gotham, and merchandise is also sold online at livelaughingman.com; 100% of the company’s profits going to charity, with a focus on education, community development and new businesses.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Jackman says.
Jackman also gives his time to World Vision — he was visiting Ethiopia as the org’s ambassador from Australia — in addition to Harlem Village Academies, Global Poverty Project and National Adoption Awareness Week in Australia.
“My father and mother both a wonderful examples to me and my brothers and sisters,” says the Oz star. “They’ve always been community minded and have always taught us the importance of giving back.”
Even after his father, an accountant who worked in developing countries, retired, he continued that work as a volunteer, Jackman notes. Thesp doesn’t plan on doing that any time soon; he will soon reprise his “X-Men” character and has signed on for Aaron Sorkin’s “Houdini” musical on Broadway.
But he will continue to devote time to charity. He maintains that these endeavors are not about him, but helping others overcome obstacles. Laughing Man’s motto: “May all be happy, may all be free of disease, may all have well being and none suffer misery of any kind.”
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