Sean Penn at the Hollywood Awards Gala
HollywoodNews.com: Two-time Academy Award® winner Sean Penn has become an American film icon in a career spanning nearly three decades. Penn has been nominated five times for the Academy Award® as Best Actor for “Dead Man Walking,” “Sweet and Lowdown,” “I Am Sam” and won his first Oscar® in 2003 for his searing performance in Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River” and his second Oscar® as Best Actor in 2009 for Gus Van Sant’s “Milk.” The performance as gay rights icon Harvey Milk also garnered Penn “Best Actor” awards from The Screen Actors Guild, New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
As a journalist, Penn has written for Time, Interview, Rolling Stone and The Nation magazines. In 2004, Penn wrote a two-part feature in The San Francisco Chronicle after a second visit to the war-torn Iraq. In 2005, he wrote a five-part feature in the same paper reporting from Iran during the election which led to the Ahmadinejad regime. Penn’s landmark interviews with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Cuba’s President Raul Castro, were published in The Nation and The Huffington Post. Penn’s interview with President Castro was the first-ever interview with an international journalist.
Penn’s humanitarian work has found him in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and more recently in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. In January 2010, Penn founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization which focuses on medical aid, protection, and re-location. His organization is currently serving as UN IOM designated Camp Management for one of the largest IDP camps in Port-au-Prince and established the first emergency re-location in the country. They work with both government and non government agencies to deliver immediate results where the need is greatest. Their efforts include but are not limited to providing emergency medical and primary care services, delivering badly needed medical equipment and medicine, distributing food and water purification systems, improving communication systems, and rubble removal in the neighborhoods surrounding the Petionville Camp when they are camp managers. J/P HRO’s goal is to help lift the nation of Haiti out of the rubble and give the Haitian people a better life The J/P Haitian Relief Organization have recently started clearing rubble, on average about 3,500 – 4,000 cubic meters of rubble a week. Each neighborhood has an average of 150,000 cubic meters of rubble which needs to be removed. The rubble clearing has encouraged Haitians to participate in spontaneous clearing efforts themselves. Each day, as they return to work sites, the J/P HRO volunteers can see evidence of people clearing rubble from their home sites by hand, almost doubling the effectiveness of their work. Town squares, now cleared of rubble, have quickly filled with children playing kickball. Teachers, police, nurses, and residents of local IDP camps have already settled into temporary shelters in their old home sites. The emotional, physical and spiritual impact of the rubble removal cannot be underestimated.
For his efforts in Haiti, Penn received the Commander’s Award for Service (US Army 82nd Airborne Division), 82nd Airborne Award for Meritorious Service, the Operation Unified Response JTF Haiti Certificate from Lieutenant General, US Army Commander P.K. Keen, along with the 1st Recon 73rd Division Coin of Excellence, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Coin of Excellence, Commendation of Excellence United States Southern Command, and Award of Excellence by the Deputy Commander US Southern Command. Earlier this year, Penn was honored with the “Children’s and Families Global Development Fund Humanitarian Award” presented by the Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti, Raymond A. Joseph and his wife, Lola Poisson-Joseph. Additionally, in July 2010 Penn was knighted by Haitian President Rene Preval in a ceremony in Port-Au-Prince.
Image courtesy of the Hollywood Awards Gala.