Leonardo DiCaprio Dedicated His First Oscar to Saving the Planet

The actor called it one of the world’s most pressing issues.
Feb 29, 2016·
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

After earning six Oscar nominations over more than two decades, Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home his first best-actor statuette on Sunday for his role in the 19th-century survival epic The Revenant. The film’s shoot was notoriously grueling, requiring the crew to endure freezing temperatures and relocate its production to the southern tip of Argentina to have fresh snow on the ground.

To DiCaprio, the logistical challenges the film crew encountered during the hottest year on record are further evidence of a rapidly warming planet. The 41-year-old actor shared anecdotes during his much-anticipated acceptance speech, using the high-profile occasion as a call to action.

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now,” he told the crowd during his televised speech. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

A longtime environmental activist, DiCaprio founded his namesake foundation in 1998 with the goal of protecting wildlife, restoring threatened ecosystems, and advocating on behalf of the planet. According to its website, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has since donated $30 million to more than 65 organizations.

FULL COVERAGE: Climate Change(d)

“We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters and the big corporations but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this,” DiCaprio said Sunday. “For our children’s children, and for those people whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.”

His comments echoed the best-actor acceptance speech he gave at the Golden Globe Awards last month, which he dedicated to the First Nations people he said were represented in The Revenant. “To all the indigenous communities around the world, it is time that we recognize your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them,” he said.

DiCaprio was not alone in his Oscars call to action against climate change. While accepting an award for best costume design for Mad Max: Fury Road, British designer Jenny Beavan warned that if people do not stop polluting the atmosphere, the apocalyptic sci-fi movie could become “horribly prophetic.”

Following his first Oscar win, DiCaprio took to Twitter on Monday to promote the work of the League of Conservation Voters, a D.C.-based advocacy group that lobbies on behalf of the environment.