The divorce proceedings of actress Amber Heard and actor Johnny Depp have resulted in a pair of seven-figure donations.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) will reportedly split the $7-million divorce settlement Heard received from Depp. The settlement concludes months of back-and-forth that played out on the covers of tabloids, including allegations of domestic abuse against Depp.
“This is over and above any funds that I have given away in the past and will continue to give away in the future,” Heard said in a statement published in media outlets. “The donation will be divided equally between the ACLU, with a particular focus to stop violence against women, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where I have worked as a volunteer for the past 10 years alongside organizations like the Art of Elysium. Over the years, I have seen firsthand how more funding for staffing, better equipment and better medication can make the difference between life or death for a child.”
Samantha Spector, Heard’s attorney, did not respond to several calls and emails for comment. Representatives from both charities confirmed the gift.
“I and all of us were very pleased and honored to receive this donation from Amber Heard to help support the work that we’ve been doing for many year aimed at ending violence against women,” said Sandra Park, senior attorney at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.
Heard’s donation is expected to benefit the project’s initiatives, which focus on addressing the discrimination survivors of domestic violence experience and institutional barriers, she said. Housing, for example, continues to be the top identified need among survivors. The project has worked to tackle local laws that deem calls to the police as a nuisance, leading to evictions of entire families – including survivors and children.
Addressing law enforcement bias is another priority for the project. Park said that a public figure coming out and discussing domestic violence can be beneficial to victims. “I think it’s always important when survivors come forward to describe their experiences,” Park said. “When domestic violence is in the news that can be very helpful in giving survivors that have not yet told anybody about abuse…some guidance.”
CHLA has yet to determine how to allocate Heard’s gift, according to DeAnn S. Marshall, MHA, chief development and marketing officer. All gifts to the nonprofit hospital help support programs including life, art and music therapy as well as clinical-care enhancements.
“We are incredibly thankful and appreciative of Amber Heard for making the decision to donate her proceeds to charity,” Marshall said in an emailed statement. “From our perspective, she serves as a wonderful example and role model for transforming a difficult personal situation into something that has the ability improve the experiences hospitalized children have at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.”
Heard hasn’t previously popped up on the Giving Back Fund’s radar, according to Marc Pollick, founder and president of the organization which works to encourage and facilitate philanthropy among athletes and celebrities. That does not mean, however, that gifts were not given anonymously or factor in other ways of giving – noting Heard’s volunteerism.
The $7-million figure is significant among typical celebrity donations, he said. Giving Back Fund used to publish a report on the largest charitable gifts made by celebrities and Heard’s donation would have ranked near the top on those annual lists, according to Pollick.
Pollick described both the ACLU and hospital as worthy recipients that make powerful statements. “The great thing that this gift could do is be a precedent or role model for others…if that happens, the gift will be multiplied several times over,” he said.