Chelsea Handler is one of the most in uential female comedians in the country. Known for her stand-up comedy, ve authored books, late-night talk show Chelsea Lately and, most recently, her Netflix show Chelsea, the 42-year-old comedy guru has just undertaken a new role: philanthropist.
Although she has always been outspoken about her political beliefs, Handler is using her Netflix show as a platform to spark change, especially through the Karam Foundation, an organization that provides aid, such as food, water, rent and English classes, to Syrian refugees in Syria and the United States. On May 5, she visited the Langham Hotel in Chicago to participate in a luncheon hosted by the Evanston-based foundation and Monika Dixon PR to talk about her involvement. ChicagoMOD was among an exclusive group of media guests who got the chance to ask Handler questions during a press preview to the luncheon. All proceeds from the luncheon bene ted the Karam Foundation.
Handler got involved in the organization through a New York Times reporter who connected her to Syrian-born Lina Sergie Attar, who co-founded the group in 2007.
“I like that you’re able to see the impact that you make [through the Karam Foundation] if you give a certain amount of money,” Handler tells ChicagoMOD. “Lina and the organization will send you photographs to see how the children are doing. You can help buy somebody a car so that the father can go to work. You can help them learn English. There are so many little things you can do if you don’t have a ton of money. You can donate your time. These people left their countries, but they didn’t want to leave. It’s not a choice. It’s a necessity. Right now, it’s important to show as much compassion and empathy as possible, especially to people not from here. We care about people. There are people who are muni cent of spirit and want to help, and I am one of them.”
Although Handler has been involved in the organization only for a short while, she takes advantage of her celebrity platform through her Netflix show, Chelsea, currently in its second season.
“I’m 42 years old,” she says. “I want to do a more important show, a more well-rounded show. I want to educate. I want to learn about politics, science, culture, sports, all the things I don’t know that much about that a person could be more well-informed about.”
Handler stresses that regardless of how wide one’s platform is, the most important thing is to show up.
“I make sure I spend a lot of my personal time and money,” she says. “I show up when I can. If you can make a difference in even one person’s life, it’s worth it. And if you can make a di erence in 100 people’s lives, why wouldn’t you want to do that?”
She says adults have a “big responsibility” to remain active politically and be compassionate and empathetic to things that don’t a ect everyone.
“I always nd it important to speak up for things that don’t a ect me. You have to stick up for people who don’t have a voice or need voices, and if you have a platform, you need to use it responsibly, especially right now.”
Visit the KaramFoundation.org to get involved.