Forest Whitaker

Artist and CEO Marseille 2021

When you think of Forest Whitaker, the diversity of films that come to mind is as awe-inspiring as the stature of the actor.

We are honored to receive him at the opening of our next Napoleons summit from May 26 to 28 in Marseille to talk about Emancipation, a theme he embodies both through his career and his action. The 59-year-old American actor, producer and director has shot 126 series and films and won eight Awards. He is also committed to the fight for equal opportunities and inclusion, for a more sustainable and ethical world.

His 38-year career in cinema sheds light on a polymorphous and committed filmography. Action film or dramatic comedy, the same passion for portraying its characters resides in Forest. In 2007 in “The Last King of Scotland”, he played dictator Idi Amin Dada, bloodthirsty ruler of one of the most terrifying African regimes in Uganda. A breathtaking performance that earned him the Oscar for Best Actor and the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Dramatic Film. In 2013, he passed in front of the camera of the French director Jérôme Salle where he played a police officer in charge of chasing the murderer of a young teenage girl, in a South Africa still haunted by Apartheid. That same year, he also played the role of Cecil Gaines, “The Butler”. This story of the black butler who worked in the White House in the service of eight Presidents of the United States is part of a collective history that is also that of Forest and his family. The character he embodies is the common thread of a film that makes us relive racial segregation, the birth of the civil rights movement and, in apotheosis, the election of the first African-American President: Barack Obama, whom we have also had the honor to host at the Napoleons!

But the commitment that Forest expresses in his work is not just fiction: in 2012, his foundation WPDI (Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative) was born! Its vocation is to support young people caught up in conflicts and violent contexts to make them the actors of peace and development that their environment needs to regain hope and resilience. According to him, the ability of a human community to regenerate depends on the mobilization of its living forces, especially its youth, to whom we must give resources for action, the first of which is trust. Involving hundreds of thousands of people facing contexts of vulnerability in sub-Saharan Africa and North America, WPDI gives young people as well as women the leading role in mediation processes, training in conflict resolution in schools or in the creation of businesses.

In 2014, WPDI received the “So the World May Hear” award in recognition of the work accomplished. During the Covid-19 health crisis, WPDI distinguished itself through information campaigns, in particular in Mexico, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda but also in the United States, in areas heavily impacted by the disease. crisis.

Forest’s commitment won over BNP Paribas, which embarked on the adventure by supporting WPDI on several high-impact programs in South Africa and the United States. Finally, because commitment is not just a question of words, we, the Napoleons, are launching a call for contributions for WPDI in order to all together be agents of change.

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