Wyclef Jean’s advice for celebrities who want to get political: Don’t be like Kathy Griffin.
Read up, said the musician of Fugees fame, and one-time aspiring celebrity-turned-president himself. And if you’re a high-profile person, think about how what you’re doing and saying might be interpreted, or maybe misinterpreted.
Otherwise, the cause you could just end up hurting the cause you think you’re trying to help.
“If you’re the celebrity that’s speaking based on emotion, you don’t know what policy you’re talking about, they’re going to take that sound bite and make a whole movie out of it,” Jean said, speaking to me for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. “So, I encourage every celebrity … let’s be as smart as [Jimmy] Kimmel.”
Nel Ust Wyclef Jean (born on October 17, 1969), best known by his professional name Wyclef Jean, is a Haitian American rapper, musician and actor. At the age of nine, Jean immigrated as a child to the United States with his family and settled there. He first achieved fame as a member of the New Jersey hip hop group the Fugees. Jean has won three Grammy Awards for his musical work.
On August 5, 2010, Jean filed for candidacy in the 2010 Haitian presidential election. The Electoral Commission ruled him as ineligible to stand for office, as he had not met the constitutional requirement to have been resident in Haiti for five years.
Jean’s efforts at earthquake relief, highly publicized in 2010 throughout Haiti and the United States, were channeled through his charitable organization, Yéle Haiti. The charity, which conducted education and welfare activities in Haiti between 2005 and 2010, effectively closed in 2012. It was investigated for failure to file tax returns and mismanagement of funds; a high proportion of its money went to travel and administrative expense. The New York Times reported that much of the money raised by the organization in the Hope for Haiti Now telethon was retained by Jean for his own benefit. (Wikipedia).