Natalie was driven by a passion to empower young women and girls through education
Today, Natalie Portman is known as a fierce advocate for women’s equality, empowerment and education. But back in the 2000s, she was seeking a partnership to help channel her passion into impact.
Despite being an Academy Award winning actress, Portman always prioritized getting an education and famously put her acting career on hold to attend Harvard University. Not long after she graduated, she began working on empowering girls through education.
The first partnership involved Natalie becoming an ambassador for the Power of a Girl campaign in which she encouraged youth in North America and the UK to fundraise for girls’ education in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
This support led to a range of women’s empowerment and education initiatives and projects being delivered in the region. Financial management and savings training programs were provided through the Women’s Empowerment Center, along with the ability for women to take out small loans to start their own small business. Natalie also supported the Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School, the first-ever, girls-only boarding school in the region.
In 2015, Portman visited the school, meeting with Kisaruni graduates and learning about the imbalance of power caused by educational disparities between boys and girls in Kenya, something not uncommon in developing communities. She saw firsthand how much the girls treasured the chance to earn an education.
“To think about all the days that I groaned about going to school or that I was annoyed about doing homework,” she recalled. “Then to see these girls’ pride and work ethic, and how seriously they take the privilege of having education, it made me more grateful for my opportunities. It helped me realize how much I had taken for granted.”
Upon returning to the U.S., Portman used her status as Miss Dior to promote the global fashion and beauty brand’s online charity initiative, Love Chain. Launched to create positive online conversations, the campaign asked people to post what they would do for love on social media. For every post, Dior donated $1 towards providing girls in Africa with access to education.
After twice visiting the girls at Kisaruni, Natalie took center stage before 20,000+ students and educators to share her experiences. “The focus, determination, and passion every girl there has to reach their goals is remarkable. They're creating the future they want for themselves and will inspire the next generation to do the same.”