In the American entertainment industry, Barbara Streisand is an icon. Possessing a strong character and exceptional versatility, she is well-known as a singer, composer, film producer, and director. Having sold over 71 million albums worldwide, her popularity is said to be comparable only to Elvis Presley in terms of record sales. A self-confessed perfectionist, she has become a recipient of two Academy Awards, nine Grammy awards, four Emmy Awards and a Tony Award.
After garnering prestigious awards in music and theatre, she ventured in moviemaking, setting up her own production company, Barwood Films in 1972. The company’s first movie, Up The Sandbox, highlighted the growing women’s movement and jumpstarted Barbara Streisand’s career not only as a serious moviemaker but an advocate of political activism. She later produced more movies that dealt with various political issues of personal significance to her.
The Rodney King riots impressed upon Streisand deeply, strengthening her conviction to do her part in addressing the problem of violence among youth in under-served communities across America. Acting on her personal belief that this violence is an unfortunate but understandable reaction to economic hardships and social injustice, she established the Streisand Foundation in 1993 initially to help disadvantage youth.
Since then, the scope of the Streisand Foundation’s advocacy has broadened. It has contributed over $16 million dollars to national nonprofit organizations advocating women’s issues, civil rights, race relations, civil liberties, gay rights, voter education, nuclear disarmament, gun control, poverty, and AIDS.
A long-time advocate of women’s health, Streisand donated $5 million dollars to the Cedars-Sinai Women Center in support of women’s cardiovascular research.
Barbara Streisand is also sympathetic to environmental causes. In support of the global climatic change initiatives of former US President Bill Clinton, she donated $1 million dollars to the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
In recognition of her contributions to philanthropic work, ABC News proclaimed her as the third most generous celebrity among the biggest philanthropists convened by the Giving Back Fund. She was also inducted as an Honoree of the Kennedy Center.
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