Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher beaming themselves directly into President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office. Cher, Benedict Cumberbatch and Steven Bartlett offering up their spare rooms. A concert compared to Live Aid pulled together in a matter of days, featuring everyone from Ed Sheeran to Snow Patrol.
All across the world, the A-listers are rallying in solidarity with Ukraine. David Beckham’s Instagram account is normally hotly guarded, yet this month he handed it over to a children’s doctor in Kharkiv to document the atrocities there. Pussy Riot star Nadya Tolokonnikova has already been locked up once for speaking out against Putin, yet she’s auctioning NFTs specifically to fight him.
Meanwhile an event on the scale of this week’s Concert for Ukraine would normally take months to organise, yet Tuesday night’s star-studded gig was pulled together in just a matter of days, spotlighting stars from Camila Cabello to Tom Odell to raise more than £12 million in vital funds. I guess that’s what happens when the planet is facing an emergency like the current conflict in eastern Europe: the stars come together, fast.
So which celebrities have joined the relief effort and how much have they raised so far? From Sean Penn’s Oscars boycott to the A-listers opening up their homes, here’s how celebs are uniting in star-studded solidarity with Ukraine.
Hype-squads with heart
ITV’s Concert for Ukraine
A-list squad: Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Emeli Sandé, Snow Patrol, Tom Odell, Nile Rodgers, Paloma Faith, Anne-Marie
Solidarity by numbers: the gig raised £13.4m for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal
Join in: donate at dec.org.uk
Ed Sheeran, fresh from a guest appearance at Stormzy’s O2 gig, belting out Bad Habits on a stage of sunflowers. Camila Cabello performing Fix You in an electric blue suit. Thousands swaying to Tom Odell’s Another Love, which has quickly become a song of resistance in Ukraine.
These were just some of the highlights from the giant charity concert held at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena on Tuesday night. The sold-out, two-hour fundraiser was pulled together in just two weeks and hosted by Roman Kemp, Marvin Humes and Emma Bunton.
The event has been compared to Live Aid for its gathering of big-hitter names for a shared cause — not as big in terms of scale, but certainly just as moving. Tearful moments included a performance from Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti merged with a viral video of young Ukrainian violinist Illia Bondarenko playing a folk song from a bomb shelter.
Arcade Fire’s benefit gigs
A-list squad: Arcade Fire
Solidarity by numbers: the concerts have raised more than $100,000 for PLUS1’s Ukraine Relief Fund
It was only fitting, really, that Arcade Fire should choose their surprise Ukraine benefit concerts to perform their new song Age of Anxiety. The Canadian rock band distributed wristbands for the five last-minute gigs at random locations in New York and New Orleans last week, asking fans to “pay what you can” to help Ukraine. Actor Mike Myers gave a brief speech about the war at the final concert and all five gigs were beamed across the world over TikTok and Instagram. “We’ve all been asleep. We’ve all been in Covid hibernation,” Myers told the crowd. “And now ladies and gentlemen — it’s time to wake up.”
Styles’ speech of support
A-list star: Harry Styles
Join in: watch Styles new music video at youtube.com
Just when you think celebrity shout-outs for Ukraine can’t get any starrier, Harry Styles joins the support squad. Specifically, speaking today on Heart Breakfast around the release of his new music video, As It Was, which was filmed with Ukrainian director Tanu Muino.
“It was a two-day shoot and on the second day was kind of the start of everything in Ukraine and she was absolutely incredible (Muino) and her DP (director of photography) Nikita (Kuzmenko) as well was amazing and they wanted to keep shooting,” Styles told Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden.
“I have to say a massive thank-you to them for their strength and all the love that they put into the video, and I think that comes across in the video. I obviously am sending them the very best and everyone that’s there.”
Kunis and Kutcher’s Zoom with Zelensky
A-list squad: Hollywood power couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher
Solidarity by numbers: the couple have smashed their $30m target to raise more than $35m for Ukraine
Support focus: Ukrainian refugees (specifically via organisations flexport.org and airbnb.org)
Join in: donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/stand-with-ukraine
Hollywood veteran Kunis might live with her A-list husband Kutcher in a farmhouse in Beverly Hills but she spent the first eight years of her life in Chernivtsi in Ukraine. “I came to America in 1991 and I have always considered myself an American. A proud American. I love everything that this country has done for myself and my family. But today, I have never been more proud to be a Ukrainian,” she told Kutcher’s 4.6 million followers in a joint video on March 3.
Since Russia’s invasion of her motherland, the power pair have been hands-on in their efforts to support relief efforts, pledging $3 million (£2.3 million) of their own money and urging fans to donate to their GoFundMe page via a series of heartfelt selfie videos filmed around their home.
Their efforts worked. More than 65,000 have donated so far, raising $35 million (£26.5 million) in aid and earning Kunis and Kutcher a Zoom call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself. “Grateful for their support. Impressed by their determination. They inspire the world,” Zelensky captioned an image of his video call with the couple in a tweet that’s been liked more than 146,000 times.
.@aplusk & Mila Kunis were among the first to respond to our grief. They have already raised $35 million & are sending it to @flexport & @Airbnb to help 🇺🇦 refugees. Grateful for their support. Impressed by their determination. They inspire the world. #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/paa0TjJseu— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 20, 2022
Penn’s Oscars boycott
A-list star: Sean Penn
Solidarity by numbers: the actor planned to destroy his award if Zelensky wasn’t allowed to speak at the ceremony
Join in: text “CORE” to 24365 to donate to Penn’s response organisation @coreresponse
It might not have gone to plan, but you have to hand it to Sean Penn for the vision. The Oscar-winning actor is currently on the ground in Ukraine, filming a Vice documentary about the Russian invasion, and recently said he would destroy his Academy Award if Zelensky wasn’t allowed to speak during this week’s Oscars ceremony. “There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give him that opportunity to talk to all of us,” he told CNN from Warsaw in Poland, threatening to “smelt [his award] in public” if Zelensky wasn’t given the floor.
Zelensky did not appear during the ceremony but no doubt he appreciated the offer. “Sean Penn is among those who support Ukraine in Ukraine today,” Zelensky’s office said in a statement in February after one of their meetings. “Our country is grateful to him for such a show of courage and honesty.” The Evening Standard cannot confirm whether Penn stuck to his promise of smelting the award.
Cooks with a conscience
A-list star: José Andrés
Solidarity by numbers: millions of meals have been served to families across Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova and Hungary
Support focus: Ukrainians at the country’s borders
Join in: donate at wck.org
Spanish celebrity chef José Andrés is no stranger to stepping in during a crisis. The Michelin star holder founded humanitarian food organisation World Central Kitchen after the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and regularly jets into disaster zones to provide frontline relief.
In 2017, he flew into Puerto Rico to help with hurricane relief, serving up 20,000 meals a day in ravaged communities. Now he’s doing the same in eastern Europe. “As you see, the snow is now coming as we speak, the temperatures are really freezing and I’m going to go in the comfort of my hotel like many of us in the comfort of our homes,” he said in a tearful message from Rzeszów in Poland last month. He and his team have established meal sites at all eight border crossings in Poland, as well as some in Romania, assembling a team of #ChefsForUkraine to greet Ukrainians with warm meals. “We will do our best not to let them down.”
The social-savvy support crew
A-list star: David Beckham
Solidarity by numbers: Beckham has 71.9m followers on Instagram — more than the entire UK population
Support focus: Ukraine’s children, more than a million of whom have become refugees since the war began
Join in: donate at unicef.org.uk
Pregnant women hiding in basements and doctors risking their lives to save newborns certainly aren’t David Beckham’s typical Instagram Story content. But this was exactly the point of his latest move to help children in Ukraine, 100 of whom are believed to have been killed during the war so far.
Earlier this month the football veteran, a Unicef ambassador since 2005, handed control of his Instagram page to Ukrainian doctor Iryna, who filmed her working day in a perinatal centre in the midst of the conflict in Kharkiv.
“We are probably risking our lives, but we don’t think about it at all,” the child anaesthesiologist told Beckham’s followers, filming young mother Yana holding her newborn son after her family home was destroyed. Becks urged his followers to support Unicef’s emergency appeal in buying clean water food and hospital supplies for people like Iryna, and it worked. Thanks to his followers’ donations, “the oxygen generators they [Iryna’s hospital] have received are helping newborns survive in appalling conditions”.
Angelina’s call to action
A-list star: Angelina Jolie
Solidarity by numbers: Jolie has more than 12.6m followers on Instagram — if each donated £1, the UNHCR could provide legal counselling support to 672,000 people forced to flee
Support focus: Ukrainian refugees who’ve been displaced inside their country
Join in: follow @refugees on Instagram
Followers of Jolie will be rather more used to images of global crises and humanitarian work than Beckham’s. The Oscar-winning actress has long worked as a special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, but that doesn’t make her Instagrams of child cancer patients and teenage bomb attack victims in Ukraine any less powerful. Jolie used the images to make an urgent call to action, encouraging fans to learn more about refugees.
“Without an end to the war children will pay the highest price — in trauma, lost childhoods and shattered lives,” she told her followers.
This month she’s also visited the war-stricken country of Yemen to meet refugees there. “If we learn anything from this shocking situation [in Ukraine], it is that we cannot be selective about who deserves support and whose rights we defend. Everyone deserves the same compassion,” she said.
The actors appeal
A-list squad: Kit Harington, David Tennant and Adrian Lester
Solidarity by numbers: £85m was raised in the first 48 hours of the appeal
Support focus: Ukrainians helped by the Disasters Emergency Committee
Join in: donate at dec.org.uk
What do Jon Snow, Doctor Who and Mickey Stone all have in common? They’re all played by stars speaking out as part of a campaign of video and radio adverts encouraging the public to donate for Ukraine’s war refugees. “People are queueing at borders, hungry, exhausted, often separated from loved ones, many bring only what they can carry and are unequipped to face freezing temperatures,” Hustle star Adrian Lester told BBC viewers following a news broadcast last month. “It is easy to feel powerless in the face of so much catastrophic human need, but you can help.”
Doctor Who star David Tennant also joined the appeal to voice a radio broadcast, while Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington appeared on ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky.
Hosts with the most
A-list squad: Cher, Benedict Cumberbatch and Steven Bartlett
Support focus: Ukrainian refugees who need homes in the UK
Join in: register as a host at homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk
“It is a really shocking time to be a European two-and-a-half hours’ flight away from Ukraine,” Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch told reporters at the Baftas last month. He said Brits like him “need to donate, we need to pressure our politicians to continue to create some kind of a refugee safety and a haven here for people who are suffering”.
Cumberbatch is one of thousands to pledge to open their home to refugees via the Government’s Homes for Ukraine programme and other schemes. Other celebs to sign up include Dragons’ Den star Steven Bartlett, who has offered his spare room at his London flat to Ukrainians, and pop icon Cher who told her four million followers that refugees would be “safe and cared for” at her Malibu mansion.
“MANY PEOPLE IN MY POSITION NEED TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE,” she tweeted in her signature capitals on March 18. “IF I WAS ALONE OR WITH MY CHILDREN, & WE WERE TRAUMATIZED, I WOULD HOPE SOMEONE LIKE ME TO [sic] TAKE CARE OF US.”
I Would Like to Sponsor— Cher (@cher) March 18, 2022
Ukrainian Families in My Home.They Would Be Safe & Cared For.MANY PEOPLE IN MY POSITION NEED TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE.IF I WAS ALONE OR WITH MY CHILDREN,& WE WERE TRAUMATIZED,I WOULD
HOPE SOMEONE LIKE ME
TO TAKE CARE OF US.
A-list squad: Leonardo DiCaprio, JK Rowling, Rolling Stones, Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds
Join in: donate to the Evening Standard’s Ukraine appeal at gofundme.com/f/eveningstandardukraineappeal
Kunis and Kutcher aren’t the only A-listers reaching into their own pockets. Fellow power couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds pledged to match up to $1 million (£760,000) in aid to the UN Refugee Agency at the start of the conflict, Harry Potter author JK Rowling is matching up to £1 million to Ukrainian children through her Lumos Foundation, the Rolling Stones have reportedly made a “generous donation” to the DEC, and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio has donated via Care, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and the UN’s refugee agency.
His team were recently forced to deny reports that his grandmother was born in the Ukrainian port of Odesa and that he’d donated $10 million.
Other famous fundraisers include models Kaia Gerber and Bella and Gigi Hadid, who’ve pledged to donate a portion of their autumn/winter fashion week earnings to humanitarian relief efforts, and Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, has rallied with fellow cryptocurrency collaborators to launch Ukraine DAO, an organisation selling NFTs of the Ukrainian flag.
The Russian artist spent two years in a Siberian jail for singing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in 2012 and despite suffering depression caused by PTSD, she won’t stop fighting. Her NFT scheme raised $7 million (£5.3 million) in just five days and she has been speaking out against Putin from an undisclosed location.
“You cannot play nice with Putin,” she said last month. “He is insane.”