Ryan Gosling Has Secretly Spent The Last Decade Trying To End Genocide In Africa

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Ryan Gosling is probably best known for sweeping women off their feet with his sweet smile in romantic-dramas like La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love and The Notebook.

Even in darker and more violent films like Drive and The Nice Guys, while Gosling doesn’t play the stereotypical knight in shining armour his characters are still rather heroic.

It is no wonder the ‘Hey Girl’ meme became so popular then as Gosling’s affectionate eyes and sly cheeky grin made his face perfect for photoshopping romantic gestures over.

But one of the reasons why Gosling is so good at playing heroes on the big screen is probably because the 38-year-old is a kind soul in real life too.

Known to be a private person, you may not have heard about Gosling’s charity work which is something he has been dedicated to throughout his life yet doesn’t shout about it.

Supporting a number of causes during his career, Gosling has raised awareness for and worked with non-profit organisations including PETA, Invisible Children, ONE Campaign, Mercy for Animals, the SickKids Foundation and many others.

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Since it was founded in 2007, Gosling has worked with the Enough Project which aims to end genocide and crimes against humanity in numerous conflict areas across Africa.

Gosling and the Enough Project’s Founding Director John Prendergast have a long history of working closely together on various initiatives and campaigns.

Travelling together throughout Africa, the pair visited Uganda in 2008 and eastern Congo in 2010 meeting with human rights defenders and survivors of ongoing violent conflicts.

When they returned to America, the duo would then take these stories they heard to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations alongside their own messages in support of peace and human rights.

Witnessing first-hand the effects of the conflict while in Congo, Gosling decided to document his time there interviewing the survivors they met and filming the scenes which surrounded them.

The video Gosling created, named Raise Hope for Congo, was used by the Enough Project to raise awareness of the conflict which the actor and activist described at the time as ‘the deadliest war in the world’.

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While the video no longer exists online, when they returned from Congo Gosling and Prendergast wrote an article together for the Huffington Post about their trip which called for an end to the use of conflict minerals, natural resources which perpetuate fighting.

They wrote:

It’s a war which most people know nothing about, despite the fact that we’re all directly connected to it. Armed groups are fighting over the lucrative minerals that power our cell phones and laptops, leaving a trail of human destruction that has no equal globally since World War II.

The conflict in Congo has left millions homeless, fleeing from their villages after they have been burnt to the ground or looted by armed groups.

The truth of what we heard from survivors is rooted in simple economics. Profits made from this illicit minerals trade arise from market demand for such minerals. If consumers demand conflict-free products, then companies will eventually meet that demand, in turn cratering the market for minerals mined through violence.

Gosling and Prendergast’s thought-provoking and harrowing words encouraged many to take action contacting electric companies asking them to think about Congo and the effects they are having there.

You can learn more about conflict minerals in the video below:

Having spent over a decade working with the Enough Project, the cause is clearly something Gosling is passionate about admitting in an interview with JoBlo in 2007 this is because his trips to Africa helped him realise just how destructive the conflicts in Africa were.

He then decided to use the public platform he had to spread the message that something needs to be done about this:

Two years ago I went to the Darfur refugee camps in Chad and I was shooting a little piece of a documentary on the conditions in the camps. And I think with anybody who goes to Africa, the experience never leaves, certainly the kids don’t.

It was there that I learned of the whole phenomenon of child soldiers and night commuters, and this whole situation in Uganda of a 20 year conflict, with 30,000 kids abducted and 1.5 million removed from their homes.

It’s gruesome. It’s like a Grimms Brothers’ fairy tale, you can’t believe it. I for myself, I need to know what I was hearing was true.

I’ve been sitting down with people who have been involved for the twenty years. I get to learn from them and spend time with them, and then I’m given a platform to talk about those experiences. Some people find it irritating but I don’t think we have a choice. If you see those things and you’re given the opportunity to talk about them, you have to.

Which is exactly what Gosling did, raising awareness, helping others learn about the conflicts in Africa and encouraging them to take action.

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As well as supporting these major global causes, Gosling is also an everyday hero with numerous viral stories proving that he is a nice guy in real life as well as in film.

Back in 2012 the actor saved a woman from being hit by a speeding taxi in New York, stopping her from walking into its path.

Laurie Penny, a British writer, shared the story on her Twitter of how Gosling swept in and saved her, confirming his superhero status.

She wrote:

I literally, LITERALLY just got saved from a car by Ryan Gosling. Literally. That actually just happened.

I was crossing 6th avenue in a new pink wig. Not looking the right way because I am from London. Ryan Gosling grabbed me away from a taxi.

Identity of no-idea-if-actually-a-manarchist-but-definitely-a-decent-sort Ryan Gosling confirmed by girl near me, who said, ‘you lucky bitch’.

While I am grateful I wasn’t nearly hit by a car, to be honest like the girl I am slightly jealous Mr. Gosling himself saved your life!

I previously only thought that happened in movies…

That same year Gosling decided to do another good deed randomly showing up at a 5K race which was fundraising for the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin.

And he didn’t come alone either, bringing actors Rooney Mara and Michael Fassbender with him much to the delight of those at the event.

Filming nearby, Gosling heard about the Spooky Skedaddle 5K and so decided to show his support attending the event.

Although he didn’t run, Gosling cheered everyone on even paying $50 for a $1 glow in the dark cotton candy from a booth staffed by deaf children.

How sweet!

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Earlier this year Gosling helped make a cafe owner’s dream come true when he visited her coffee shop following a 10-day long campaign which aimed to get the actor to visit.

In 2017 Joelle Murray, who runs the local cafe Grinder Coffee in Toronto, started an online campaign to try and get actor Idris Elba to visit while he was attending the Toronto Film Festival.

Unfortunately he didn’t (boo you Idris) but this didn’t stop Joelle, who set her sights on an in-town Gosling for the premiere of First Man, from dreaming.

You can watch a trailer for the film here:

Posting photos of a life-size Gosling cut-out enjoying a cup of coffee at the shop on social media, each tweet or Facebook post was accompanied with a message to the actor about why he should visit.

Speaking to UNILAD, Joelle said while the campaign was fun she didn’t believe Gosling would turn up, after Elba disappointed them last year.

Yet she still had hope:

So this year I decided to do it again but this year I had a voting jar for the customers to choose who they wanted. While it seems democratic the celebrities were curated by me. It’s always about who I want to have coffee with.

This year’s candidates were Dame Judi Dench, Samuel Jackson, Ryan Gosling and Julia Roberts. Ryan was by far the top candidate.

Ryan was Canadian, and he just seemed like a cool dude to actually drink coffee with. It’s all about who I fawn over. This campaign is about promoting our shop our city and pure fandom.

I didn’t actually think he would come at best I was hoping he would send a note. I really didn’t think my stunt would work at all. Even after I posted the picture online I thought that the local press might pick up the story.

I was more excited to send the photo to my very dour Scotsman hubby who thought I was just plain crazy the whole campaign.

When Joelle’s campaign went viral she admitted everything went ‘crazy very, very fast’ but the attention spurred her on.

On day 10 it happened, Gosling paid Joelle and Grinder Coffee a visit posing for photos and having a chat with the staff.

Of course Joelle was beyond delighted as she told UNILAD:

It was totally out of nowhere. He never contacted us prior to arriving. He was incredibly kind and generous. He was so well mannered and made it seem that he was just as happy to see us as we were to see him.

I was gobsmacked. I swore when he first showed up. I really couldn’t believe my antics worked. It has just spurred me on for next year, I’m still planning on taking shots at Idris showing him what he missed.

To be honest Joelle’s excitement is pretty clear on her face…

In the film All Good Things Gosling’s character David Marks remarks ‘Look at her. I swear to God, I didn’t even know that people like her existed. She’s perfect.’

Well Ryan, we feel the same could truly be said about you. Happy Birthday!

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]


Emily Murray

Emily Murray

Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn't writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.