Samuel L. Jackson Interview

60 year-old actor Samuel L Jackson hosted The Shooting Stars in Desert Nights Benefit preceded by a day of golf in London this week, in aid of the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity. The Rainbow Trust provides support to families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness ( He has also founded the Samuel L Jackson Foundation to benefit a range of charities.

Philip Pullman please credit Wolf Marloh(photo Wolf Marloh)

What is the first charity you can remember supporting?

In Chattanooga, Tennessee when I was a kid I used to trick or treat for UNICEF. People would try to give us candy, and we’d say “no, we need money!” I never tricked anyone though, I was good kid.
Which cause do you feel most passionately about?

AIDS initiatives and orphanages in South Africa. We built schools and wells for kids in QuaZulu Natal. Now we’re trying to get electricity in, and food for the weekends when they’re not fed at school.
Do you only make planned donations?

When I drive my car around and see someone with their hand out, I give them money, and there are instances when I’ll hear of an immediate need on the television news and I’ll donate.
What do you get out of your giving?

I just feel that karmically it’s got to be good for you. Because of the way that I was raised, I know that people who have more should give to people who have less, and I know that there is a definite need for people to feel that someone cares, that they are not alone in their struggles. I’ve been places where I wished someone could help me and there was no help, and there are other times that there was help. I try to treat people every day how I’d like to be treated.
Do people in the public eye have a duty to charity?

No, not necessarily. There are some selfish people who feel like they earned the money and so earned the right to do with it what they want. It’s not ok to be a selfish person, but I don’t condemn it. It just means that I have to do more.
Do celebrities use good causes for their own ends?

Yes. Of course.
Has your background as an equal rights activist affected your views on charity?

It’s made me understand that there are times when I can’t be as outspoken as I sometimes feel like I need to be. I don’t support anything subversive, but there are times when you don’t want people to know you’re contributing to a specific cause.
Why the Rainbow Trust?

I found out about them when I was working with the Princes Trust, and what they do for the families of people who are suffering. You never hear about the families getting some respite, or people caring about what happens to them, or the hardship that those families are actually in while their loved ones pass. It’s nice to look at these people, and say: “you’ve suffered enough, you deserve a break.”
Copyright The Financial Times Ltd