Each year, Variety highlights five prominent women who are using their clout and influence to bring attention to worthy causes. This year’s honorees are: Jessica Chastain (Planned Parenthood), Chelsea Clinton (Alliance for a Healthier Generation), Gayle King (SEO Scholars), Blake Lively (Child Rescue Coalition), Audra McDonald (Covenant House), and Shari Redstone (Legal Services Corp.).
Blake Lively wants to use the power of the web to crack down on child pornography. The movie star (“The Shallows,” “Café Society”) is working with the Child Rescue Coalition on promoting a groundbreaking technology that flags the IP addresses of people who share and download sexually explicit images of minors.
The actress and L’Oreal pitchwoman found out about the nonprofit at an event sponsored by the beauty brand. “There are millions of files all over the world being traded every single day of child pornography,” says Lively, who was drawn to the cause as the mother of two young children. “It’s so disturbing. A lot of these people are fathers.”
Coalition CEO Carly Asher Yoost says she and Lively were immediately simpatico. “We hit it off, and we’re both passionate about protecting kids,” says Yoost, who founded the nonprofit organization in 2013, in Boca Raton, Fla. “We stayed in touch, and she really wanted to help. She got us a meeting at a technology summit at Facebook.”
Yoost hopes to convince internet providers to block users from sharing child pornography, as she points to research that suggests 85% of those who consume it have abused children. “Our mission is to protect the innocent,” Yoost says. “We try to get [the data] in the hands of law enforcement.”
By partnering with officers in 67 countries, the Child Rescue Coalition has led to the arrest of 9,000 predators, and rescued 2,084 children from active abuse. “If you proactively find these predators, you can save so many children,” says Lively.