Matthew McConaughey opened up in a recent interview about parenting, his own upbringing and why he started a foundation to help kids below the poverty line have a chance at success in America.
The 50-year-old “Dazed and Confused” star and his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, started the Just Keep Livin’ Foundation in 2008. The program provides kids with a place to practice physical activities and focuses on teaching gratitude and service projects. According to Town and Country, the program has since blossomed to include 84 teachers in 37 high schools servicing close to 3,000 students in six states and Washington D.C.
Although the actor has a history of philanthropy, having previously helped rescue pets stranded by Hurricane Katrina and, more recently, donating 80,000 face masks to coronavirus first-responders, he said that he always wanted to do something to help high school kids specifically.
“I always knew I wanted it to be kids, because I wanted the entire foundation to provide prevention before we needed a cure," he told the outlet. "High school’s the last place you can catch somebody and get them on the right track, before they no longer have to listen to a teacher or parent. If they’re screwing up in high school and do some of the same stuff after they graduate, they may go to jail—or worse."
However, when asked if he can relate to kids on the cusp of making the wrong long-term decisions in their lives, the actor confessed that he could not.
“No. I was very fortunate. I grew up upper-middle-class, and I had a roof over my head, food on the table, parents that loved and supported me, a car that was paid for, and a job, and I made straight A’s,” he said.
Although, he noted that his home life wasn’t as stable as most kids, given that his parents divorced three times and remarried twice.
“My parents were probably just saying, ‘I’ve had enough of you for a while. I’ll see you in a year or so.’ It wasn’t a perfect upbringing, but I was in a position where I was never going to be a victim,” he explained.
Camila, however, proved to be a perfect match for the actor as she revealed her parents did the same exact thing.
“I would call them two people extremely in love who cannot find a way to communicate. It’s all fine now. But when I was growing up, in Brazil, my mom would always extol to me and my brother the importance of giving back,” she said.
The couple, who are parents to kids Levi, 11, Vida, 10 and Livingston, 7, were asked if any of their own upbringings are helping them be better parents. The actor shared that things are different given all of his success. He believes part of being an affluent father means making the decision to not give kids everything they want.
“Sometimes loving your kids means giving them just what they want. Other times it means tough love. Affluent people can give their kids everything they want, but they’re not usually going to get what they need,” he said. “Loving a child is a lot harder if you really give a damn. ‘No’ takes a lot more energy. It’s a lot easier to say ‘yes.’
Despite his seemingly selfless views on parenting and philanthropy, McConaughey insists that he’s still a selfish hedonist.
“Your hypothesis is backward. I’ve always been a hedonist, and part of having a foundation is putting a capital H on hedonism,” he explained. “Being able to give back in ways is a selfish endeavor. It feels good to me to see a smile or hear a young person say thank you. That’s called a selfless act? I call it a selfish act.”