Adorned crown to toe in vintage Gucci, Olivia Wilde is bold, glamorous and adulterous in Ron Howard’s latest drama, Rush (spoiler alert: she plays Formula One driver James Hunt’s model wife Suzy Miller, who leaves him for iconic actor Richard Burton). She’s best known for her pedal- to-the-metal film career, those smouldering eyes and pronounced cheeks in Revlon campaigns, and her candour—“We have sex like Kenyan marathon runners,” Wilde once monologued at Joe’s Pub in New York, referring to fiancé Jason Sudeikis. Yet there’s more than major jobs and racy romance bubbling beneath the exquisite surface.
The 29-year-old actress is altruism epitomized. As a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ), Olivia travels to Haiti at least once a year; she co-founded the first free secondary school for the “forgotten children” of Port-au-Prince, post– 2010 quake. “It’s incredibly exciting to see the students showing up with homework done in their pressed uniforms,” says Wilde. “Some of them are still living in tents.”
A canvas backpack she toted there inspired her first fashion-meets-philanthropy venture, the Message Bag (available at shopbop.com), with 20 percent of the profits going to APJ. At the end of this month, Wilde and her business partner Barbara Burchfield will launch ConsciousCommerce.co, a cyber shop where you can “[find] things you love while giving back.” The duo will team up with designers three times a year on the goods. Until it goes live, their first collabo, a Yoana Baraschi– designed embellished A-line dress, will be on sale as of Oct. 1 at Anthropologie, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward keeping young Calcutta women out of the sex trade by providing housing and education. “Yoana has a personal interest in India, so we connected her with a great organization [there],” says Wilde.
The seeds for social justice were planted early for the star, who grew up in Washington, D.C., “in a household steeped in awareness of human- rights atrocities around the world,” she says. “And the sense of moral obligation as a human being.”
Closer to home, Wilde has twice hosted the Revlon Run/Walk for Women, a five-kilometre event to end women’s cancers held in New York and L.A. every May. “I’ve had far too many friends affected by cancers ,” says Wilde (among them her onetime babysitter, author Christopher Hitchens).“We all have.” Her devotion is marathon-like in endurance. “People assume research will carry on even if we don’t engage and participate in fundraising—and that just isn’t true,” says Wilde. “We need to constantly push to find a cure.”