Actress Kristen Bell, best known for her role in Veronica Mars from
2004 to 2007, as well as the title role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and
the narrator of Gossip Girl, also has a passion: helping the children of
Northern Uganda. She talked to WebMD the Magazine recently about her
acting, her advocacy, and her avocations.
You regularly carve out time from your work -- including narrating
Gossip Girl and appearing in Serious Moonlight -- to work for
Invisible Children, dedicated to helping raise awareness about the hardship
kids face in Northern Uganda. What drew you to this movement, sparked by a
documentary about children in a country ripped apart by war for more than 20
It’s so shocking to see those children sleeping like sardines [on the
streets of Uganda], because their homes are unsafe for them at night, and it’s
not safe for them to be out past dark. I just think no child should have to
deal with a war-torn area. You should be allowed to have your childhood. And on
top of it all, if they’re abducted, and lucky enough to escape, they’re not
only left with the ability to kill, but the instinct to kill. And brainwashing
children is just something that’s completely unacceptable.
How did you first get involved?
The older brother of one of the girls I worked with on Veronica Mars,
Jason Russell, started the organization. So I started hanging out with these
wonderful people, and they’re making a gigantic change in the world. And
they’re so inspiring, I told them I wanted to do whatever I could to help.
How is Invisible Children giving these young people hope?
First and foremost, Invisible Children bases itself upon the idea that what
the youth of America are concerned about cannot be ignored by the American
government. And what the American government are concerned about cannot be
ignored by the rest of the world. So to give this issue worldwide attention, we
create lots of demonstrations to get the message out. On top of that, we use
the funding and the donations of people’s time. We have offices over in Uganda;
we’re rebuilding 11 schools, which educate more than 8,000 kids. The buildings
were condemned, and we’re rebuilding all of the structures, so that these kids
can have a place to learn, and to thrive in school. And there are over 700 kids
whose school dues we pay.
How would you like to see the rest of us contribute to Invisible
The amazing thing is that the majority of what they ask is for people’s
time, because it’s more valuable than money. And whether it’s going and
volunteering in Uganda, or asking you to sit down for five minutes and think of
an idea of how you can make a difference to these kids, they want to put
people’s brainpower to work.