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Matthew McConaughey Tells Teens: Just Keep Livin'

Actor and dad Matthew McConaughey helps at-risk youth get healthy and remembers his dad, who taught him to give back. Plus, his new movie, 'Magic Mike.'

McConaughey's Children

The foundation's teens keep McConaughey engaged with the next generation -- and then, of course, there's Levi and Vida, who often accompany their famous dad on location. "My acting's getting better because I play make-believe better," the film star says. "You learn that from kids."

He says he's always dreamed of parenthood, especially since he was so influenced by his own father. "Life was good before, but now after having a family, children, a wonderful woman, there's just more to live for," he says with passion. "I've got this really glorious responsibility to shepherd these children. And to pass on what I know to them sooner than I found out in my life, but not too soon so as not to let them grow up at their own pace. That is an incredible art."

He pauses, then waxes cinematic on the "art" of guiding young people, whether they're his own or the kids he mentors through j.k. livin. "It's like making films. This is the epic, raising children. You're hands-on directing that film, the film of your children's life. And they'll go on and start writing their own story without [my hand] to guide them.

"And that's got to be one of the proudest and most glorious things for a parent to see -- not what they do during the first 18 years, but after they leave the nest. And I can't wait! I'm not in a rush to get there -- it's a ball right now. But it's something I always knew I wanted to be -- a father."

In the meantime, McConaughey continues to prepare growing numbers of j.k. livin kids for successful, fulfilling futures. His foundation is not only helping them improve their school attendance, behavior, and academic performance -- the teens have told him they appreciate the feeling of protection the program provides.

"They said to me: 'I was under so much social pressure to hang with certain kids after school, gangs here and there. Now I have a healthy place to come.' And I don't overlook the simplicity of that."

Matthew McConaughey's Father Knew Best

Father's Day is upon us, so we asked the star of Magic Mike to share life lessons he learned from his dad, James, who died 19 years ago. McConaughey relates some wise advice that guides him, as well as the kids he mentors at the j.k. livin foundation.

"Lend a helping hand when you can." The j.k. livin foundation has mentored about 2,000 teenagers since 2008, with aims of becoming a pilot program for schools across the nation.

"Have a good work ethic. Respect the value of a dollar." The star has worked steadily in both blockbusters and smaller films since his first breakout role in 1993. He lives quietly with his family in Austin.

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