Sophia Bush shows up for people. For the actress, activist and entrepreneur, that gift is both a passion and a calling.
The LA-grown star was recently named by CNN as one of the most charitable celebrities in the world. She does not take her privilege of knowledge and connection lightly.
Sophia Bush is passionate about getting facts into the hands of people, and more importantly, empowering them to seek out reputable sources of information themselves. She has built a life of action and information.
Caring about the world and issues of injustice is more than just a hobby for Bush. She cares deeply about the environment, women’s issues, and girls’ education. She uses her platform and spare time to raise awareness and funding.
Bush’s involvement with what is going on around the world does not stop at raising funds or showing up at important events. One of the most distinct things about her, and definitely one of her proudest accomplishments, is her commitment to factual and unbiased research.
“I do the research and I care,” she admitted to Jay Shetty. “I look into things in a very real way, and I dig into things. I don't share about things or advocate for things unless I really know that I know what I'm talking about. I travel to places to be on the ground, to be a witness and an advocate.”
Once she acknowledged how empowering it was to recognize those strengths in herself, her conviction to continue living them out only intensified.
Bush is determined to present facts and not be swayed by emotion. This has set her voice apart in many ways. She is fiercely committed to sharing her message with tenderness and kindness, however, something missing from much of society today.
Bush is also active in the political arena. She has worked in the White House and on several presidential campaigns and has the ability to travel the world to see issues firsthand. Her balanced approach – one example being her experience on both sides of the gun reform argument – places her in a position of privilege.
Sophia Bush daily lives out her passion for bringing factual reporting to those who are not aware of how to access it themselves. She strives to simultaneously empower society to look objectively at what is going on around them and not let Facebook be their guide.
A Work in Progress
Jay Shetty was one of Sophia Bush’s earliest guests on her podcast, Work In Progress. For Bush, her podcast is a labor of love. It’s the perfect place for her to host guests and explore the two sides of her constant struggle – how can I be a work in progress and a masterpiece at the same time?
When she first started wrestling with this question out loud, she didn’t expect it to go viral.
“I think that sometimes when I say or write something that really cuts to the inner part of the heart of the people who read it or hear it, it's because it's the thing that I needed to hear,” she told Jay Shetty.
“The world is hard for everyone,” Bush continued to Jay Shetty. “We’ve all been put on this hamster wheel where we're terrified that maybe we're the one person who doesn't have it figured out or why haven't we've got this sorted? All these other people look like they have it figured out. We're all asking each other, ‘How do you manage your time?’”
Bush’s openness in sharing her struggles has made her life and her message accessible to many. While others may hesitate to share both what they’re proud of AND where they need improvement, Bush doesn’t flinch.
“The things that I take pride in [where] I know I'm doing well are my commitment to people and my commitment to research,” Bush told Jay Shetty. “I am very political, and it comes at a risk. I do it because I know I'm doing it right, and I'm also really willing to learn.”
Her voice fills with joy as she talks about her love for people and her passion for seeing them reach their potential. Her focus on advocacy and activism flows from that love of others, leaving her with definitive markers of where to center her involvement.
“My activism is always rooted in what is best for the most people and is the root of what I believe – always love one another,” she said to Jay Shetty. “If those are the questions I can answer clearly, then I go full steam ahead. I'm really proud of those things like that. That's where I'm doing well.”
Bush will be the first to admit that she has areas that are a work in progress. Time management and e-mail correspondence are two major stressors. In her position, they are non-negotiables but still create tension for her. She also feels she needs help in one more area: love.
“Love is a powerful drug,” Bush admitted to Jay Shetty. While it is beautiful to love people well, sometimes it is not reciprocated or it is abused, and that can be so hurtful, as Bush can attest. “The way that I will fight for the world is because of the way I love the world.”
“I really love people and I have realized that's what makes me so feisty on their behalf,” she continued. “But when that applies in my more interpersonal relationships, it has made me a little bit blind. Because very often, whether it's in platonic love or romantic love, I have fallen in love with people's potential. I have fallen in love with the best thing that I see in someone as my partner or as my friend, rather than really taking stock of the full picture.”
Discernment is hard, especially when feelings are involved. Bush admits that stretching her discernment muscles has been one of her greatest, yet most important challenges. She’s learning to ride the line between loving people well and not letting them take advantage of her.
A Fact a Day Keeps Anxiety at Bay
Bush anchors herself in factual reporting. She believes that so much more could be accomplished if people truly sought out information; not just stories that tug at their heartstrings.
“Any activism is good and useful”, Bush said to Jay Shetty, “but when it's sentimental and it's not grounded in research, it can be misplaced.”
Diving into facts and research when there is so much upheaval grounds her.
“Where do people go for that data?” asked Jay Shetty. “Where are you finding that source so that people are not going into the fake news and not getting lost into the media paid perspectives? “Where are you finding the best data for you?”
This arena is yet another where Bush holds her privilege sacredly.
“I've worked on multiple presidential campaigns and I've worked from inside the White House,” she told Jay Shetty. “I know who to trust. I speak to attorneys, I talk to lawyers who testify before the Supreme court. That's my privilege of access, and I spend it by sharing what they pass on with my followers.”
“I do a lot of research,” Bush continued to Jay Shetty. “I work with a lot of organizations that I trust. I think it's important for us to go to sources that are really verified and trustworthy and global. We should understand the way the news is being reported in other places.”
Sophia loves reading articles and well-known, verified papers from all sides of the issues, including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, New York Times, CNN, and TIME Magazine. She also keeps an eye on who trustworthy reporters follow.
Because she has a broad range of reputable sources, Bush is able to present others with fair and unbiased research they can trust.
“I share a lot of data on my Instagram,” she told Jay Shetty. “I use my Instagram stories almost like the news every day because I know where it's coming from.”
Connecting Passions to Change the World
“How are you deciding what's important for you?” Jay Shetty asked Bush. “Why have you chosen the things that you focus on?”
“The more I learn, the more I see how it's all connected,” she replied. “My understanding of what the world needs is big and it's broad. I like to go deep in so many different directions.”
The activist believes there is a strategy to that broad scope, but she’s also a realist.
“My entire audience isn't going to care about cancer and my entire audience isn't going to care about the environment,” she told Jay Shetty. “My entire audience isn't going to care about girls' access to primary school education in Guatemala. But they're all going to care about something. The more that I can offer and the more that I can research and the more that I can give opportunity, the more likely I am to turn somebody on to the thing that ignites their sacred rage.”
For this reason, Sophia tackles it all. She likes to learn as much as she can about the issues. She strives to understand how the systems of the world are interconnected and integrated. And then she shares what she’s learned with millions of people every day. The more causes she highlights, the more likely it is that many will be inspired and moved to action in some way.
Sophia Bush’s activism all started with her care for the environment and expanded from there to women’s and girls’ issues. She quickly realized it’s all related. This understanding motivates her to take a comprehensive approach to caring.
“If we have been touched by cancer, we should be talking about the environment,” she told Jay Shetty. “We should be talking about environmental protections and what's happening with the water and and the air. If we understand that the only reason we're sitting in this room is because we were afforded an education, we should be making sure that the education system doesn't leave anyone behind.”
She has no desire to slow down her learning and activism any time soon.
“I want to be learning constantly about the newest, coolest thing and the best way to show up for something,” she said to Jay Shetty. “It all really matters.”
When Sophia Bush reflects on her passion and her place in the world, it does really all come down to showing up.
“I used to be angrier publicly,” she reflected. “I have learned as I've gotten older and wiser where to spend my anger, because that is a privilege you get also.” Her main goal now is to bring people into conversations rather than push them out.
More From Sophia Bush and Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Learning To Accept Yourself In The Present While Becoming A Masterpiece” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.