For years, actress, singer and human rights activist Kat Graham has been gracing the big and small screen in shows like The Vampire Diaries and films like How It Ends. But you may not know that the Emmy-nominated actress has dedicated the last decade of her life to helping people around the world, including those who have been forced to flee their homes because of war, violence and persecution. Here are five things you may not have known about Kat Graham’s work as a humanitarian.
1. Kat’s family history has inspired her humanitarian work — her grandparents were refugees.
Kat was born in Geneva, Switzerland and raised in Los Angeles, California. Her father, Joseph, is of Liberian descent, and her mother, Natasha, is Jewish, her family coming from Poland and Russia. Kat’s grandparents on her mother’s side were once refugees themselves, making the refugee crisis close to her heart.
“It’s not lost on me that if my grandfather had been killed while fleeing for his life, or my grandmother was taken to a concentration camp during the Holocaust, I would not be here today.” Kat explains. “They were refugees, and I walk with their legacy. During the time of my grandparents, refugees often didn’t have anyone to speak up for them…I pledge to speak up for the refugees of today.”
2. Kat is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
Kat has been working with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, for more than a decade, bringing awareness and attention to the plight of refugees and displaced people globally. In December 2020, Kat was announced as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
“I believe our most important works on this earth are what we can do for others.” Kat explained in 2020.
“Being named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador is one of the greatest honors of my life. I’m grateful for this opportunity to continue to shine a light on untold stories of refugees and to work to ensure protection and support for displaced persons around the world.”
As a Goodwill Ambassador, Kat has taken particular interest in refugee women and girls, fiercely advocating for their right to education and job opportunities.
3. Kat has traveled the world to get to know refugees, including, most recently, those fleeing violence in Sudan and Ethiopia.
As a Goodwill Ambassador, Kat has met refugees around the world — from Jordan to Central America to South Sudan. On each of her visits, Kat has taken the opportunity to get to know people who have fled their homes on a personal level and ensure they feel heard and seen.
When devastating violence broke out in Sudan earlier this year, Kat felt compelled to help. At the beginning of the summer, she traveled to Ethiopia—her second visit to the country with UNHCR—to see how she could support refugees who are fleeing violence and facing drought and hunger crises in the region. She came home with renewed passion and a clear message for others about how they can help by donating and supporting UNHCR’s cash assistance program.
4. Kat has gotten to know her local refugee community in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kat has made it a point to meet with resettled refugees and support refugee-owned businesses in Georgia - a state she called home for many years. In a visit to Clarkston, a suburb of Atlanta, Kat met with refugee doctors and nurses from CORE, refugee and immigrant coders from Refcode, refugee baristas and shop managers from Refuge Coffee Co. and more.
“It is such an honor to have met so many incredible refugees from doctors to nurses who are volunteering to vaccinate their community, to aspiring computer scientists and software developers who are taking their skills to the next level.” Kat shares. “Resettled refugees here in Clarkston and across the United States are living proof that our country is stronger when we welcome newcomers."
5. Kat is using her platform to bring attention to refugee issues.
From wearing a blue #WithRefugees ribbon on the red carpet to sharing refugee stories on social media, Kat has taken every opportunity to use her platform to uplift refugee voices and advocate for the rights of displaced people. By speaking about refugees to outlets like Marie Claire and giving TV interviews on the Drew Barrymore Show and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Kat is committed to raise awareness through mainstream media. Her reach and influence brings global attention to this global crisis.
Inspired to join Kat Graham and share your kindness with refugees?
Becoming a monthly donor is the most efficient and effective way to help those fleeing conflict and persecution. Make a difference in the lives of refugees by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.