Originally from Mandeville, Ian Somerhalder, star of “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW channel, is famous for his acting roles and his beauty, but also for his ecologist. Now it has a title to accompany the adjective: Somerhalder was recently appointed United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the organization’s environmental agenda.
Somerhalder, 33, will join fellow actor-ambassadors Gisele Bundchen and Don Cheadle on his first official task: organizing the 40th World Environment Day on June 5. The event aims to encourage people to get involved in activities that benefit the environment. Planting trees, starting to recycle if you don’t already, or walking to work are some of the activities Somerhalder and the others will encourage.
“When you do your part for the environment, everyone wins,” Somerhalder said in a promotional video for the event.
Somerhalder was environmentally friendly long before his appointment to the United Nations. He started and runs the IS Foundation (Ian Somerhalder), which “aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to have a positive impact on the planet and its creatures,” according to the foundation’s website.
In a February interview with the ology.com website, which “is all about the passions,” the actor explained why he created the foundation.
“I come from a really delicate ecosystem – I come from the Louisiana Gulf Coast – so it’s literally one of the most delicate ecosystems in the world. It is so unique and amazing. Forty-five percent of all of America’s wetlands are found in Louisiana, where I grew up. If we lose them, we’re screwed. Roughly what we did after BP. And that feeling of helplessness… I decided that no one should ever feel that way.
“So our organization aims to empower people through education. And it’s unfortunate, but education in this country is lacking. There is a lack of information, but the positive aspect is that there is so much media and social networks that we can now transfer information so quickly. And it really takes off. It is absolutely impressive.
In a 2010 interview with Times-Picayune television writer Dave Walker, Somerhalder described “that feeling of helplessness” he referred to in Ology’s interview.
“I grew up in this bayou, in these swamps. Having fished all along the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines, I know how delicate this ecosystem is. The idea of this oil sinking into the root system of these plants, killing oysters, crabs, and shrimp, freaks you out. I had to be there now.
Watch Somerhalder’s video challenge below: