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NAME: Ben Affleck
OCCUPATION: Actor, Writer, Director, Producer
BIRTH DATE: August 15, 1972 (Age: 41)
ZODIAC SIGN: Leo
PLACE OF BIRTH: Berkeley, California
FULL NAME: Benjamin Geza Affleck
AKA: Benjamin Affleck, Ben Affleck
PARENTS: Chris and Tim Affleck
SIBLING: Casey Affleck
MARRIED: Jennifer Garner
CHILDREN: Violet, Seraphina, Samuel
Founded by Ben Affleck, the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) is the first U.S. based advocacy and grant-making initiative wholly focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo. We envision an eastern Congo vibrant with abundant opportunities for economic and social development, where a robust civil society can flourish. ECI believes that local, community-based approaches are essential to creating a sustainable and successful society in eastern Congo.
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Online Since: 01.10.12
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Yano and his guest partied with Ben & Matt in an all day poker tournament in Hollywood! Definitely the start of a beautiful best friendship.
The new Batman appeared on NPR to discuss his stance on Africa
Even Batman deals with confidence issues.
Ben Affleck, who testified last week before Congress on behalf of the Congo, revealed to NPR’s Morning Edition’s David Greene on Thursday that he briefly struggled with feelings of insecurity before stepping up as a celebrity advocate for the region.
“It seemed to me that what I had to offer at the time could be better used in the Congo and after that, in my sort of insecurity about not wanting to be somebody who does it without understanding it, led me to go,” Affleck explained.
While Affleck’s Hollywood friends pushed the “Batman vs. Superman” star toward other causes, he was ultimately able to use his clout to draw more attention to the often-ignored region.
“Being an actor afforded me [certain] access,” Affleck began, “and the more I got involved and looked around in the Congo, the more I was drawn there. Not because of the suffering but because of the will and the energy and the determination of the Congolese people and the face of that suffering to overcome.”
Despite his initial doubts, Affleck made sure he was able to contribute more than just a celebrity mouthpiece.
“I wouldn’t be a credible advocate if I wasn’t taken seriously, if I hadn’t done my homework,” Affleck revealed. “So in order to do it, I had to do it properly.”
Listen to more of Affleck’s NPR interview below:
Zach Snyder spoke candidly with Hero Complex about keeping tabs on fanboy “talk-back” and how outcry is “reassuring and frustrating at the same time.”
(NEW YORK) — On ABC’s This Week on Sunday morning, Ben Affleck told Martha Raddatz that working in the Congo has given meaning to his life.
The Oscar award-winning actor and director said he worried about his legacy. Looking at his life, he thought, “I haven’t really done anything substantial, aside from my work, and that I can look back on and say I contributed to society in a way that was commensurate with the blessings that I have.”
Then he traveled to the Congo and has been back nine times since 2006.
Of all the Hollywood stars that use their celebrity to focus camera on a favorite cause, Affleck is one of the most well-respected. His organization, Eastern Congo Initiative, supports local Congolese development organizations working on a range of issues from women’s health to peace and justice, and he has been invited to speak Capitol Hill repeatedly regarding the conditions in the country. This week, the actor joined US Special Envoy to the Congo, Russ Feingold, in Washington, to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“He’s really a model for the way the United States needs to approach this,” Feingold said. “Somebody can get interested in this, do it for a few months, get some credit and quit. He hasn’t done that. He’s given it sustained attention.”
For nearly 15 years, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been embroiled in conflict. More than five million people have died in the DRC from violence and, according to the UN human rights organization, three million Congolese were still displaced from their homes last year.
Affleck said these numbers can be overwhelming. “It’s not that people don’t care about Africa or terrible crises like this, but it’s like you don’t want to hear about it, it’s so vile,” he said. “How many millions of people? I can’t even understand that.”
“It really struck me, you know, why is this child’s life worth any less than my own children’s? Why is this woman’s life worth any less than my — my own wife?” he continued.
Affleck said he understood American’s hesitation to get involved overseas, but that helping fellow human beings is part of our nation’s core values.
“This is who we are as Americans. We believe in helping others who are down, who are suffering, who are being exploited,” he said.
“We believe in helping our neighbor. We believe in helping them achieve democracy and freedom. And in this case, it’s not democracy at the point of a gun. It’s — it’s a democracy assisted by diplomats, by people who want to work with their government to make their lives better,” he continued.
Conditions on the ground in the DRC are improving. A major rebel group surrendered last November and a special all-Africa United Nations-led peacekeeping team has had success reducing the violence. Still, Feingold and Affleck agreed the Obama administration should continue to make the region a priority and place pressure on the young Congolese government to hold elections and reform its security forces.
“My greatest worry is that people will think just because something happened positively that it’s done. Sometimes we have a tendency to be like that. We have much more to do, both in the region and within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to stop this and to give the people of that country what they deserve, an opportunity to benefit from their culture and their resources.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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WASHINGTON – Hollywood star Ben Affleck called on Wednesday for targeted investment in the private sector in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where he sees a window of opportunity to end a cycle of unrest.
The A-list actor and director, who has founded a non-profit group called the Eastern Congo Initiative and has made repeated trips to the region, advocated the United States shift its priorities in delivering aid, in a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“People would rather be invested in than accept aid, would rather have a job than live in a camp,” he said.
Specific, small-scale investments are sometimes better than massive projects because they can be monitored more closely, Affleck argued, plugging his organisation’s involvement in building a partnership between local cocoa growers and organic chocolate company Theo.
“It’s good business for the Congolese and it’s paying off for this American company,” which will buy 640 tons of cocoa from Congolese growers this year, he said, emphasising “economic development is the key for sustainable growth.”
The Argo star testified alongside Roger Meece, former US ambassador to Kinshasa, and conflict economy expert Raymond Gilpin, from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies of the National Defense University.
Along with former Senator Russ Feingold, President Barack Obama’s envoy to the region, all four expressed optimism about progress in the conflict-torn, but resource-rich DRC, where they said a recent peace deal that ended hostilities with the M23 rebel group was a major step forward.
They praised the UN’s “intervention brigade,” whose mandate was extended beyond peacekeeping, as being pivotal in bringing about the peace deal.
But they said significant reforms to the security sector are needed, as well as elections.
Feingold noted that Washington has set aside $3.7 million to support the DRC’s next elections – a “paltry sum.”
“I think this is something we should heavily engage in,” he urged.
Affleck, who also met US Secretary of State John Kerry, said the troubled 2011 election, following a mostly well-regarded 2006 presidential vote, demonstrated the need for continued international involvement.
”This is a region that’s suffered enormous damage and trauma. And this fire is now abating a little bit, and we have a window where engagement on the part of secretary, the president, the Congress all collectively can make a real difference,” he said at the State Department.
“And I think historically, there’s an instinct to sort of put out one fire and go to the next fire. And this is a point where we can act to prevent the fire from igniting again.”
Source: AFP LINK
WASHINGTON (AP)—Academy award-winner Ben Affleck understands that celebrity is a double-edged sword, helping him draw attention to the strife and suffering in the Congo while attracting skeptics dismissive of Hollywood stars and causes.
So the actor and director did a self-described tutorial before launching the Eastern Congo Initiative four years ago, a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to peace and prosperity in the region. On Wednesday, he brought his star power and expertise to Washington, meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and testifying on Capitol Hill.
Affleck also met individually with several lawmakers and sat down for interviews along with former Sen. Russell Feingold, the special envoy for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He joked about crashing congressional offices and the likely confusion over an actor slated to play Batman in the sequel to “Man of Steel.”
“What are you doing here, aren’t you supposed to be wearing a cape?” Affleck said in an interview with The Associated Press, citing a typical comment.
The star and director of last year’s best picture “Argo,” and the upcoming “Gone Girl” said he was taking the celebrity attention and using it to focus on an issue he cares deeply about — the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Outside my family and my work, this is it. This is my legacy. This is the thing I will be identified with. I take it extremely seriously,” Affleck said in a 20-minute session in which his passion for the subject was evident.
Congo, the former Belgian colony of about 68 million people, is one of the most volatile in Africa. Violence has claimed the lives of 5 million people since a regional war that began in 1997.
On Wednesday, Affleck was delivering a message of cautious optimism, citing the surrender last November of the armed militia M23 and the appointment of Feingold. His Eastern Congo Initiative, with two employees in the U.S. and 12 in the Congo, has had success through its community-based partnerships and, as Affleck noted, capitalism.
Theo, a chocolate company based in Seattle, is getting tons of its cacao beans from eastern Congo. Coffee is next, Affleck said.
“Now we have a window of hope in a place that has had a lot of war, a lot of conflict, a lot of suffering, basically no security sector,” Affleck said.
Feingold said elections will be crucial as they stand as a “symbol to the people that they really have something to do with the government.”
Affleck has made nine trips to the Congo and hopes to travel there again soon. He praised the work of former President George W. Bush on African issues as well as the effort of Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
“Our Republican friends have perhaps been better on Africa than my party,” said Affleck, a Democrat.
In his prepared testimony, he urged Congress to provide the funds for personnel and resources for the special envoy’s office and to pressure President Barack Obama to engage directly with President Joseph Kabila, among other steps.
Affleck, in the interview, said his fame gave him a “special spotlight” while acknowledging the “certain skepticism about actors, about entertainment advocates.” The key, he said, is to “demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about, that you’re not a dilettante.”
Press Release Transcript:
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, all, for coming in. Just want to say how much I appreciate Senator Russ Feingold’s efforts with respect to the Great Lakes region, and I’m particularly grateful to Ben Affleck, who’s had a longtime engagement on this. He testified before us in the Senate. We worked on this issue for some period of time. And they’ve just – have you already testified or –
MR. AFFLECK: This afternoon.
SECRETARY KERRY: He’ll be testifying this afternoon before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But Russ did a superb job working with Mary Robinson of the UN to help bring about the Kampala Accords and a diminishment in the violence, hopefully, when we get it fully followed through on, the disarming of M23, and a movement forward towards some stabilization and economic development and other issues. It’s been a terrific effort, and I’m appreciative to both for their leadership in that regard.
So do you want to say anything, Russ?
MR. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Your willingness to be involved with this every step of the way has made a huge difference. Each time you’ve given me an additional thing to get done with good guidance and always willing to make the calls that need to be made. And it makes a huge difference when the Secretary, obviously, calls people. We try to use it sparingly, but when we do it, it’s effective. So I’m grateful to you for your support on this, and we are making some progress.
SECRETARY KERRY: Ben, do you want to say anything?
MR. AFFLECK: Well, yes. I’m very grateful to be here in this esteemed company and particularly grateful to the Secretary, whose purview is the entire world, has taken time to focus on this issue and to recognize that this is a moment where we have a window where we can really effect change. And I’m grateful that he appointed Senator Feingold, who’s an extraordinary man of great influence, to be ambassador to – or Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region. And finally, it’s just a pleasure to be back here in the State Department after – the real State Department – I had to fake it for Argo. (Laughter.) I get to see the real thing here, so it’s quite intimidating. Thank you again, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Happy to have you here. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thanks.
MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.
QUESTION: Is it better or worse than what it was like in Argo?
MR. AFFLECK: Well, this part’s much better. In fact, this was – this area was too fancy to try to recreate so we just recreated white hallways with colored stripes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What’s your message to the Senate today?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you, everyone. Thank –
MR. AFFLECK: Well, you have to come to the testimony to talk about it, but in short it is in fact that while – this is a region that’s suffered enormous damage and trauma. And this fire is now abating a little bit, and we have a window where engagement on the part of Secretary, the President, the Congress all collectively can make a real difference. And I think historically, there’s an instinct to sort of put out one fire and go to the next fire. And this is a point where we can act to prevent the fire from igniting again.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all. Appreciate it very much.