Like you, we’re feeling bummed that Ian Somerhalder didn’t get the coveted role of Christian Grey in the upcoming “50 Shades of Grey” film. But is he sulking over it? Nope. Instead, the actor is starting a RYOT.
Ian, along with his his enviromental foundation, has joined forces with Sierra Club’s 2.1 million grassroots supporters working to save the planet. Together they started a RYOT, and it’s all thanks to a new challenge from Crowdrise.
Since the #STARTARYOT challenge launched late last month, donors have helped raise almost half a million dollars for their favorite nonprofit organizations. At the end of the challenge, the organization that has raised the most money will receive an additional $75,000 from news site RYOT.
Outside of his being one of the founders of RYOT, this challenge seems especially well-suited for Somerhalder. Fans of the social fundraising platform Crowdrise believe strongly in the mantra, “If You Don’t Give Back No One Will Like You.” This certainly seems to ring true for Somerhalder, who has built a legion of fans who hold his philanthropic efforts in higher regard than his ability to create swoon-worthy smolder on camera. Take that, E.L. James! We kid, we kid.
We caught up with Somerhalder to find out more about why he chose to RYOT with the Sierra Club, where we’d find his favorite place on Earth, and how he was fated to meet the newest girl in his life.
ACT: You’ve joined Crowdrise’s latest challenge to #STARTARYOT on behalf of an organization. Why did you choose to support The Sierra Club Foundation?
IAN: The #STARTARYOT challenge is an amazing opportunity to demonstrate the capacity of collaboration. The Sierra Club is a tremendously special organization. They have chapters spanning the nation leading the way in protecting our land, seas and air, as well as every creature that depends on the protection of these to survive. While my core has always been attached to protecting and healing the magnificence of nature and all its creatures, Sierra Club really transformed my aspirations into actions from a young age. When we unite forces, we expand our skill set, multiply our voices and amplify our ultimate power for the future of this planet.
Photo: Ian speaking at a Sierra Club rally in Asheville, NC. (Getty)
ACT: You use your Twitter account to energize your legions of fans to help save the planet, and you helped found RYOT. Do you think social media has the power to change the world?
IAN: Absolutely. Social media has already changed the world! It has reformatted our perception of connection. Now, we connect in more ways than ever, regardless of language barriers, mountain ranges, distance, or political or religious differences. Through platforms like Twitter, people’s voices are amplified to impact change and educate others on their passion and what they find important.
Social media has given the power back to the citizen, the youth, the consumer, the voter and ultimately all of the change makers of the world. Information is shared internationally within a matter of seconds. Seeing the breadth and potential of social media, we knew we had to start RYOT — providing people with the opportunity to interact with the news on their own terms had never been done before.
ACT: We have to ask: According to Instagram, you have a new girl in your life. How is Nietzsche doing?
IAN: Strangely, I’ve had a premonition I would meet her for many years. She is one of the most charismatic beings! She shows a gentle appreciation to all who give her love. Animals are fantastic teachers, and I learn something new from her every day. She, like other animals in my life and out in the wild, are majestically spiritual, love unconditionally and have mastered the art of forgiveness. I’m a very lucky man to have her in my life.
Photo: Ian with his rescued dog, Nietzsche. (Instagram)
ACT: As someone who loves our planet so much, we’re curious: What’s your favorite place on Earth?
IAN: I’m incredibly fortunate to have seen so much of this big, beautiful, amazing world, but my favorite place is wherever I am. There is an uncanny comfort with nestling myself in the bayou where I was raised, but there is an equal excitement to venturing a new patch of earth thousands of miles away. If we open ourselves to absorb our surroundings with fully engaged senses, every place is memorable and teachable.
ACT: For our readers who want to join in and help take care of our environment, how can they get involved?
IAN: Check out the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. From there you can reach out to us and join our team of volunteers or start a crew in your area. We literally have hundreds of volunteers all over the planet now. This goes back to your question about social media. ISF functions remotely through the Internet and social media. Our volunteers keep in touch with each other online and are extremely active in raising awareness of environmental issues through their social media networks.
To win the challenge, Somerhalder is going to have to battle celebs like Charlize Theron and Kristin Davis. If you want the Sierra Club Foundation to take home the top prize, make sure you’re ready to RYOT with the actor on behalf of the planet. For more ways to get involved, check out the action widgets below.
Volunteer at the ISF
See how you can help at the Ian Somerhalder Foundation!