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Variety Salutes Philanthropist of the Year and LGBTQ Activist Ariadne Getty

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Ariadne Getty

(Variety) — When was growing up in Italy, her family, the scion of famed oil tycoon J. Paul Getty , owned a home in Orgia, a tiny Tuscan village in the province of Siena.

“At the time there were probably 60 residents, and now it’s down to about 30,” recalls Getty, who, at the age of about 4 or 5, would spend her days marveling at the local village women, “their backs curved” as they carried heavy planks of wood and transported large jugs of drinking water while their husbands were off working at the local quarries.

Getty’s mother, Gail, owned a fashion boutique in Rome, and the production hub for its inventory was located in Orgia. Gail would hire the local women to knit clothes and design patterns for the shop’s winter and summer collections, but often “they would take on extra jobs as well,” says Getty.

“I would always go and help them,” she continues. “One summer they were making Dr. Scholl’s [sandals]. We would have to nail in the part of the sandal where the leather strap hits the front of the foot. And what I realized was that these women didn’t have any help. There wasn’t a place where they could go and say, ‘I can’t make my rent this month, and I’m doing all this heavy labor.’ They just had to keep on taking jobs. They had to take on that responsibility completely by themselves. And I think that’s always stuck with me, that sense of loneliness those women must have felt.”

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In later years, Getty, who is being honored as Variety’s 2019 Philanthropist of the Year, would remember those Italian women and their hardscrabble existence, the way they doggedly persevered without complaint. It was, in fact, those women, along with Getty’s two children, Natalia, known as “Nats,” and August, who would come to serve as inspiration for Getty’s myriad charitable endeavors and her impassioned drive to help others.

Getty, who now lives in Los Angeles, considers herself “a lifelong philanthropist,” eschewing any flashy public attention her name might inspire in favor of devotedly giving back to the community. In 2004 she established her eponymous foundation. Since then the Ariadne Getty Foundation, of which she is the president and executive director, has partnered with many organizations, including GLAAD and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, to bring about positive systemic change within the LGBTQ community.

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Realizing the extent to which so many at-risk youth and elderly were struggling, compounded by the realization that both August and Nats, artists and fashion designers with their own respective clothing lines, are gay, “really shook [Getty] to the core.”

“Living so close to West Hollywood, it does appear to be a bubble of safety, but in actual fact it’s also a dangerous place,” notes Getty. “I don’t want this to come out in the wrong way, because there is also a safety [net] to living in West Hollywood when you are gay, but when you are young and you are kicked out of your house and you end up living in West Hollywood there is also the presence of a corrupting force. And these people need help.”

To that end, in January 2018 Getty attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she pledged a gift of $15 million to […]

Continue reading at variety.com

Author: Staff

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