Famous? Here’s how to get involved in politics in New York

Host fundraisers and write op-eds. You could even run for office!

Presidential candidate and reality TV star Donald Trump holds a press availability in 2016.

Presidential candidate and reality TV star Donald Trump holds a press availability in 2016. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It’s not just an endorsement game. Celebrities are all over New York politics, and sometimes where you least expect them. Here are some of the ways that celebrities can – and have – become involved in local politics.

Run for office

Ronald Reagan pioneered it. Donald Trump perfected it. And in New York, actor Cynthia Nixon made a go of it in her 2018 primary challenge to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Post on social media

You can go all in and run for office, or you can do what some would consider the bare minimum and schedule an Instagram post speaking up in favor – or against – a candidate or bill. That’s not to say those posts are useless though. Whether it’s Bette Midler posting about the Elizabeth Street Garden or Sarah Jessica Parker urging against budget cuts to public libraries, drawing attention to an issue or race on social media can capture audiences that may not be regular readers of local news, and can be particularly helpful if you’re looking to grab the focus of a younger audience.

Write an op-ed

Actors and musicians might not be best known for their writing, but that hasn’t stopped some from picking up a pen. Talk show host Andy Cohen co-authored an op-ed with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo advocating to legalize gestational surrogacy in New York and repeal the so-called gay and trans panic defense.

Lobby lawmakers in Albany or at City Hall

If the number of state legislators grabbing selfies with Rosario Dawson at the state Capitol wasn’t enough of an indication, having a verified A-lister in the halls of government can be exciting. And while New York City likes to play it a little cooler to avoid the appearance of getting starstruck around celebrities, a visit to City Hall can cause a stir too. Pro skater Tony Hawk was at City Hall to advocate for public skate parts.

Get involved in your own venture

The more entrepreneurial celebrities might choose to get involved in a business venture – an effort that isn’t usually inherently political, unless we’re talking about casinos. The licensing of three downstate casinos promises to be a windfall for the successful companies, which explains the storm of lobbying and spending by the teams promoting their bids. Some rappers are getting in on the action – Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is a partner on the Times Square bid, while Nas has joined the push to expand Resorts World into a full-fledged casino.

Explain a complicated issue with a friendly, trained delivery

Using a celebrity’s name and face on a campaign mailer or website can be helpful, but sometimes a compelling voice is enough. Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial campaign recruited actor Edie Falco to narrate an explainer video of the state Senate’s (now-defunct) Independent Democratic Conference in 2018. Who better than Carmela Soprano to warn against members of the family stepping out of line?

Donate to a political campaign

Celebrities have money to spend, and politicians want it. A relatively low-effort way for celebrities to get involved in politics is by writing a check to a candidate they support. But beware; reporters can and will dig up every famous person’s political donations.

Host a fundraiser

Even better than opening up their wallets, celebrities can open up their homes and host fundraisers for candidates. It could be even less effort than that. Just having a celebrity “chair” or “headline” a political fundraiser can allow the campaign to jack up ticket prices.

Endorse a candidate

Back to basics: A simple endorsement of a political campaign or advocacy issue can be the most straightforward way for celebrities to use their cache. And as long as they’re not causing too much trouble for the staffers organizing the campaign, it’s usually a low-effort step that can’t hurt. Just make sure you know for certain who you support, lest you endorse one candidate only to turn around and vote for their opponent on Election Day.

Knock on doors with a candidate

Want to step it up a notch? Getting out there and pounding pavement with your preferred candidate will leave little question about your enthusiastic support. Actor Ben Stiller knocked on doors with state Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes in 2018.