Wall Street and Hollywood, including Jake Gyllenhaal and Uzo Aduba, come together at this marathon philanthropic event
by Samuel Anderson | September 12, 2017 2:00 pm
Each September, celebrities flock to Cantor Fitzgerald’s Charity Day, an annual telethon held at the financial services firm that pays tribute to the more than 700 employees who died on 9/11 by donating all revenue earned on the anniversary to charitable causes worldwide. (This year, as much as $10 million will go to Hurricane Harvey relief.) A diverse cast of participants like Bill Clinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Padma Lakshmi, each representing a charity of their choice, upheld the 16-year tradition by conducting trades on the phone with actual clients. And while investment banking might not be in his job description, Gyllenhaal draws a link between his art and his philanthropy, telling us “what I do [for a living] is absurd and odd in many ways, but I think it can make some changes.”
“I think we tell stories because it brings us together to know that everyone is struggling in many different ways,” adds the actor, who will play Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman in the upcoming film Stronger. “The thing that’s incredible about [Jeff’s] story is that it elicits all these different responses from people struggling [in different ways]. So I think stories are incredibly powerful and it’s our responsibility to tell them.”
Just as varied as the event’s guest list were the charitable causes it illuminated. Lakshmi was there on behalf of the Endometriosis Foundation of America–which, she says, is in need of private funding now more than ever. “I’m hoping this administration will be a little more generous in their research dollars, but I don’t know that that’s going to happen,” says Lakshmi, whose own struggle led her to become an advocate for women’s health. “It took me a while [to open up about my endometriosis] because no one likes to speak about their period,” she told us. But, she adds, she found support in both the food and fashion communities: “The fashion industry is built on the backs of women, so they have to be concerned about this. And food as well, because [endometriosis] is an autoimmune disease, so what you eat is really important.”
While the financial sector may be less glamorous than film or fashion, when it came time to hit the phone lines, the collective enthusiasm on this red carpet transcended industry. “It feels amazing. It’s, like, really fun, I feel like I’m in Wolf of Wall Street” Uzo Aduba jokes. “It’s fun and exciting, and you get even more excited because you know you’re doing it for the betterment of someone else.”
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