Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week,we speak with comedienne, talk show host, actress and author Chelsea Handler about her activism on behalf of gay rights and her cancer charity work.
Handler hosts her own late-night talk show, "Chelsea Lately," on the E! network. In her latest book, "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me," Handler describes her funniest failed dates, growing up in a New Jersey suburb, and the sometimes crude jokes she plays and friends and loved ones.
Handler is active with many charities. The loss of her mother to breast cancer prompted her to get involved with Susan G. Komen For The Cure, an organization that funds breast cancer research, education and support.
Handler is also involved with the nonprofit gay-rights organization GLADD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and Human Rights Campaign. In 2009 Handler served as grand marshal for the Los Angeles LGBT Pride Parade.
Interviewed by Jessica Abramson, NBC News
Q: Is there one charity that you are especially passionate about?
Handler: I try to spread it out. I don’t really focus on one. I mean, I probably do the most for the gay and lesbian community, or LGBT, but I don’t have one that I focus on. I just try and kind of do a lot for different charities.
Q: OK. So what is your role?
Handler: I don’t really have a role with any of them. If they ask me to host an event, if I’m available, I try and do it. I (did) the gay pride parade in West Hollywood. Or I’ll host an HRC [Human Rights Campaign] event or do something like that for them. So, if I’m in town for something, like an Alzheimer’s event, I’m always happy to pitch in and do something. Everybody needs to be laughing a little.
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Q: How did you get involved with the various organizations that you help out?
Handler: You know what, its just case-by-case basis. It’s whoever calls and asks me to do stuff and obviously, with having your own TV show, people want you to get involved. They know you’re a stand-up comedian so they’re always looking for somebody funny to host an event.
Q: What is the most rewarding part about being involved?
Handler: Well, that I get to drink while I’m hosting the event. Yeah, it’s great to help out. I mean, obviously its nice to give your time and especially when there is money being raised. It’s rewarding.
Q: How can people get involved?
Handler: You can go to any of these websites and get involved in any of the charities that you are interested in. There’s tons of information on the Internet, so if you type in cancer, they’ll give you 15, 000 different options to get involved with cancer. It’s very easy to get involved if you want to get involved, especially to volunteer your time.
Q: Why is Susan G. Komen or GLAAD close to your heart?
Handler: GLAAD I like to get involved with because I think it’s important to be involved with charities that don’t necessarily reflect what you’re dealing with in your life. So, for the gay and lesbian community, even though I’m not gay I think its really important to speak out for people that aren’t necessarily dealing with the same circumstances you’re dealing with and don’t have the benefit of the health care system or the government that you do.
As for Susan G. Komen, my mom died of breast cancer, so that’s how I got involved with that charity.
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