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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Thursday's Connector: Don Cheadle

June 21st, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Don Cheadle is not in Kansas City any more.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/21/don.art.gettyimages.jpg
caption="Don Cheadle is your Connector of the Day."]

Born in 1964, he has since become one of Hollywood’s hottest talents.

A favorite of top director Steven Soderbergh, Cheadle’s featured in several of his films including "Out of Sight," "Traffic" and the "Ocean’s Eleven" trilogy.

But he’ll no doubt be best remembered for his lead role in Hotel Rwanda.

Cheadle won the world’s attention –and an Oscar nomination -with his moving portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina – a real life hotelier who saved more than one thousand people in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The experience inspired Cheadle to take up other humanitarian causes.

He’s worked tirelessly to end ethnic violence in the Sudan, and written books and produced films to raise awareness about the death and devastation in Darfur.

Cheadle has also just been announced as the U.N.'s Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme.

In the role, Cheadle will work towards mobilizing the public to embrace more sustainable lifestyles, promote the greening of the entertainment industry and take part in UNEP public outreach initiatives.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Mathilde Umulisa

    I thought you were absolutely fabulous in "Traffic" – I live in Rwanda, and enjoyed your speech at our baby goriila naming ceremony in early June – I wish Zoya (your baby gorilla) a long happy life in the Virungas. My question is how do we as Africans overcome the challenge the happy, productive stories of whats happening in our countries when big media are only interested in disaster and poverty?

    June 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  2. Jurgen R. Brul

    What should the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) do to STOP THE OIL LEAK and to CLEAN UP THE OIL IN AND AROUND THE GULF OF MEXICO and THE ATLANTIC OCEAN in order to KEEP HUMANITY HEALTHY?

    What is your opinion, as the leading actor in the current movie Brooklyn's Finest, on the Finest JUSTICE system of United States of America?

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Paramaribo, Suriname

    June 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  3. Walter Onyino

    Do you have any regrets for taking the role in Hotel Rwanda now that it is emerging that the facts may have been a little different?And would you take a leading role in another genocide kind of movie in future?

    June 23, 2010 at 9:16 am | Reply

    You did justice to the role of Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda – a hero I revere from across the world. I am quite sure there are many such unsung heroes all over the place, whose stories need to be told to inspire ordinary people to do good and go the extra mile to better the world. Are there any such projects in your pipeline?

    June 23, 2010 at 10:12 am | Reply
  5. Achidi Nelson

    Don Cheadle, I enjoy your role in all your movies especially in Hotel Rwanda. But there has been alot of controversy around my Neighborhood since the release of that movie. Some believe it is a true story and have therefore develop a form of hatred towards the west while others think it is just a movie.
    What can you tell us about this movie?

    Achidi Nelson
    Münster, Germany

    June 23, 2010 at 10:23 am | Reply
  6. JimmyB

    Thanks you for your acting and entertainment ability, you are one of my favorite actors. I'm not a rich person so I must prioritize my financial support to philantropic causes. In your opinion as an activist, what is the number one problem we face today and where could my money be put to the best use. Thanks,

    BTW – LIke watching you play poker! You are pretty good!

    June 23, 2010 at 11:03 am | Reply
  7. Klortsoo Okai

    Congratulations Don, on all your achievements, especially regarding all your humanitarian work...

    I'm interested to know how you intend to "mobilize the public to embrace more sustainable lifestyles and promote the greening of the entertainment industry", in your new role as U.N.'s Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme.

    All the best in all your endeavors and may God continue to bless your work. The world is already a better place because people like you are it!

    Best Regards,
    Klortsoo Okai
    Accra, Ghana

    June 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  8. GeeMoney

    What movie role have you played would you consider your toughest role to play to date? And how did you approach playing the role?

    June 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  9. Keira


    My question is: Do you think Hollywood will continue to make films, such as Hotel Rwanda, that educate people worldwide about genocide (and other atrocities)? Or will studios shy away from those types of movies because they're considered "downers" & not "entertainment"?



    June 23, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  10. Torrin Kim

    Aside from promoting environmental causes, will you also try to use your Goodwill Ambassador position to get the UN to do more to stop genocide? It seems we still haven't learnt the lessons from Rwanda...

    Torrin Kim

    June 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  11. Angela, Alaska

    I admire your talent as an artist and am amazed by your versatility. My question is do you think that actors using their notoriety and fame to draw attention to civic causes helps? Regardless – I admire your effort to use your position to draw attention to the plight of people who desperately need help.

    In follow-up – do you experience people who feel that since you live your life to a degree in the public eye that you don't deserve privacy? If so, how do you segregate things and keep your personal life private?

    I ask because it seems a hard line to walk and you do it well.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  12. Lanre

    I found your performance in Crash very compelling. Ditto Ocean's 13. What motivates your choice for film projects? Is there a sort of filtering process you go through in selecting a film script? Will you be directing any film projects in the near future?


    June 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  13. Tuppence Maranovna

    Don Cheadle's is a bit of a legend. He's got a really wide scope of acting skills, going from War Hammer to his role in Crash. He's recently been cast for the upcoming Marching Powder Film too.

    September 7, 2010 at 6:02 am | Reply

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