Natalie has been a part of Hollywood's A-list for so long that it's hard to believe she's only 27. But unlike many of her celebrity peers, Natalie isn't making tabloid news for running amok. As a teen, instead of partying and taking advantage of her celebrity stature, Natalie decided to go to Harvard. Many in the industry believed it was a bad decision. But Natalie was quoted at the time saying, "I'd rather be smart than a movie star." Oh and how smart she is! A few years later Natalie has proved them wrong, as her acting career is still going strong. And in between films, the Oscar-nominated actress dedicates her time to causes that no doubt help make the world a better place.
Even as a kid Natalie spent time trying to help the environment as a member of The World Patrol Kids (Check out the 'Recycle It!' music video to see Natalie singing and dancing her way to a less polluted future.) And as she's gotten older, she's gone from singing about changing the world to actually doing so. Last year she visited the rainforests of Rwanda with Jack Hanna to film the Animal Planet documentary Gorillas on the Brink on the plight of the endangered gorillas and how conservation is the only chance of their survival. She can also be seen in a short, conservation video for National Geographic called 'This Bulb' about the importance of using energy efficient lighting.
And Natalie dedicates much of her time to working with the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA), which offers micro-financial investment to women in developing countries. The program loans women money to start their own business or help an existing business. She considers it "less of a charity than sort of an expansion of opportunity."
Her most recent venture involves footwear. It may seem like a stretch to go from aiding the plight of the gorillas or helping women in developing countries to designing shoes, but it's actually just another way Natalie hopes to make a difference. A long time vegetarian who refuses to wear any clothing or accessories made from animals, she decided to partner with Té Casan to design her own cruelty-free vegan shoe line. The high-end collection (and believe me the shoes are gorgeous, but not cheap) is hand-crafted and perfect for a night out. I also love that 100% of the proceeds benefit The Nature Conservancy, an organization dedicated to ecological preservation and protection. If you're in New York you can visit the West Village Té Casan boutique. But everyone else can check out her shoes on the Té Casan website. The shoes are only available in very limited amounts, so here's hoping that Natalie keeps on designing.