Richard Gere, who has donated time and money to the causes for Tibetan independence and HIV/AIDS care, accepted a prestigious humanitarian award given by the city of Philadelphia. Yesterday, the actor was given the Marian Anderson Award, named after the black American opera singer who achieved international acclaim by the mid-1930s but faced racial segregation at home.
Gere, 58, accepted the honour and its $100,000 honorarium at a gala at the Kimmel Centre for the Performing Arts. "I'm not worthy of this award in any way whatsoever," Gere said.
"I can't tell you how this makes me feel. My heart is so wide open." Gere was lauded for taking on the dual role of artist and activist before it became fashionable, lending his fame and finances to global issues. Gere, a Buddhist, has advocated Tibetan independence from Chinese rule since 1978.
He co-founded the Tibet House and is board chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet. He established Healing the Divide, a public charity for improving care for HIV/AIDS patients, and a philanthropic foundation bearing his name helps humanitarian organisations. His three-decade film career includes An Officer and A Gentleman, Pretty Woman and Chicago, which won him a Golden Globe award.