There are many ways to try to describe Sean Penn: raw, riveting, tough, profane, fearless, Olympic smoker, explosive and definitely hard working, particularly when it comes to helping Haiti.
But ‘diplomatic’ is not exactly what comes to mind when you think of Penn.
Nevertheless, the Haitian government has honored his work in helping Haiti recover from the earthquake by naming Penn an ambassador-at-large and this weekend he took on the title.
Penn, a founder of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, earned a humanitarian award for his work in constructing and organizing a camp where tens of thousands of Haitians have sought shelter. Penn’s work and the enormous challenges Haiti faces in transition people out of the camps and into homes was highlighted in GlobalPost’s ‘Special Report’ titled “Fault Line: Aid, politics and blame in post-quake Haiti.” He also offered an interview to GlobalPost correspondent Donovan Webster.
At a party to benefit Haiti at the Peace Cinema in Los Angeles, Penn was among a crowd of Hollywood stars including George Clooney, Hillary Swank, Oprah Winfrey and emcee Bill Maher, doing their part to help the Haitian people.
The New York Times reported that Penn told the gathering, "'I do accept,' so that he can change being called, well you probably have an idea, 'to hey, Mr. Ambassador.'”
The band Arcade Fire, led by Win Butler and his wife Regine Chassagne, who is of Haitian descent, played at the event and has raised more than $1 million by donating a percentage of every ticket the band sells. But it just wouldn’t be Hollywood if the tone was all too reverent, so leave it to Bill Maher to add some edge.
On stage, Maher said, “I think 2012 is the year we are going to get Haiti back on its feet. And next year: Detroit!"