Exclusive: Lupita Nyong’o Fronts Michael Kors’ Watch Hunger Stop 2019 Campaign
"I’ve admired the work they do to fight hunger for some time."
Today, Michael Kors reveals the seventh edition of his Watch Hunger Stop initiative, fronted by Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o.
The theme of this year’s campaign is “Food is Love” – a statement that encapsulates the inspiration for the initiative (which was created to support the United Nations World Food Programme). “To help feed a child is to care for them, to share their hopes and dreams, to support them as they make their way in the world,” the brand writes in a release. Importantly, it also notes that giving children access to food “provides an incentive for families to send their children, especially girls, to school.”
In a FASHION exclusive, Nyong’o says she has joined the campaign in the hope that she can use her platform to make a difference. “Hunger is a defining issue for our world and climate change is worsening the problem. We must work to change this dynamic. My hope is that by adding my voice to the fight against hunger, I will help be a part of the solution and encourage others to take action as well,” she says. As for how she came to be a part of the program, the Oscar winner explains, “I find what speaks to me and sparks passion. I am proud to support Watch Hunger Stop because it focuses attention on solutions to the problem of hunger and encourages people to take action on an individual basis.”
On the relationship between food and school, she says, “School meals are a smart way to fight hunger because they link education to nutrition, so children get multiple benefits, as do their families with each school meal saving them money. WFP also works to buy food locally and invests in training and supporting local farmers, including women. I appreciate the emphasis on helping people to become self-sufficient while also providing for the immediate needs of children.”
As with every year, Michael has designed a selection of limited edition products to help raise funds for WFP. On offer this year is a T-shirt (available in black and white) and a tote, both of which have the word LOVE printed on the front. Plus, Kors will donate an extra 100 meals to WFP for every selfie shared on social of someone wearing the products with the hashtag #watchhungerstop.
For Nyong’o, fashion and philanthropy go hand-in-hand. “Fashion connects people, it engages and inspires them, which makes it a perfect space for philanthropy. For many people, myself included, fashion is about self-expression and the issues we care about are very much part of how we define and express ourselves.”
Her own interest in philanthropy begun at an early age. “I was always drawn to issues of wildlife preservation, human rights, and gender equality growing up. WHS helps to fund meals for schools, which has a direct impact on levelling the performance playing field for underprivileged students,” she says, adding that this was largely driven by her parents. “My mother and father taught me that philanthropy is my human responsibility. This was engrained in me from a young age, and I have continued to live by that philosophy, partnering with the likes of Watch Hunger Stop and using my voice to speak up for matters that I believe to be important.” Her mother, in particular, is her role model when it comes to activism. “I have watched my mother grow as a philanthropist all my life. She is selfless to a fault, passionate and dedicated to the causes she takes on and patient beyond comprehension. She acts, not for the public glory but for the private satisfaction that giving back gives her. She takes her philanthropy very personally and I love and admire that about her.”
Being philanthropic, she says, is a global responsibility regardless of your fame level. “I think it is important for each and every one of us to take on philanthropic causes, and recognize that we have a role to play in shaping the world we live in. The intention to be philanthropic should start in private and with the individual learning to care about more than just themselves. Artists and people in the entertainment world are in a unique position to influence large groups of people to recognize that power within themselves and institute change, but the responsibility to humanity is best shared by all.” She adds, “For there to be a chorus, each person must sing. That’s a fancy way of saying that it takes the action of one to start a movement; every action counts! Whether it’s volunteering at a local organization, inviting a friend to volunteer with you, or using your voice to amplify an important message.”
Nyong’o has previously been vocal in her support for women’s rights – and the fight to end world hunger is closely aligned with this, she tells us. “Women’s issues are human issues. Hunger is a human issue and therefore hunger is a women’s issue. Michael Kors and WFP are working hard to eradicate hunger by helping to fund school meals. When students can eat, they can perform better in school which in turn leads to greater opportunities in life. In so doing, this program is facilitating better opportunities for women and girls on a daily basis.”
Given the challenges facing the world today, Nyong’o says she “oscillates between optimism and pessimism” on the reg. “I feel optimistic when I am in a position to contribute something positive and constructive in my work as an actor, author, producer, sister, daughter, cousin, auntie, friend or philanthropist. I feel optimistic when I engage in the constructive work of others that I respect and admire, when I can feel the forces of good conspiring and multiplying in the world. But there are times when I am overwhelmed by the destruction and evil in the world, too and in these times, I suffer a quiet panic. But then I remind myself of Robert Bresson’s words: ‘Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen,’ and that renews my faith in myself and in my ability to effect change in the world.”
The trick, she says, is to focus on the changes we can make. “Just because we cannot fully fix some of the larger issues facing our world today does not mean we cannot make small differences that add up. If Watch Hunger Stop is able to provide a school meal for even one child, that is a positive change that I am proud to be a part of.”
The Michael Kors Watch Hunger Stop Collection is available in stores and online from today. The T-shirt is CAD$48 and the leather-handle tote is CAD$78. Additionally, customers can make a direct donation to WFP at the register in select Michael Kors stores – just $5 feeds a child in school for a month.