New York’s celebrity causes

The stars love horses, books and more.

Horse carriages have been a lightning rod for celebrity support.

Horse carriages have been a lightning rod for celebrity support. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

New York has long been a stage for celebrities eager to weigh in on and advocate for various political causes. But all causes aren’t created equal – at least if we’re using celebrity engagement as the gauge.

From fighting for libraries to heaving their cultural weight into the battle for criminal justice reforms, here are the causes that have garnered the most celebrity activity across the state in recent years.


When New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced cuts to library budgets both this year and last year, a string of celebrities were roused to action as branch leaders sounded the alarm that cuts would drive the system to a breaking point. Last year, actor Sarah Jessica Parker, who starred in “Sex and the City,” tagged the mayor and City Council in an Instagram post calling for the restoration of funding for libraries. Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also called for the reversal of proposed cuts. In June 2023, singer and actor Bette Midler sent a letter to Adams urging him to reconsider as the “cuts will force libraries to curtail their hours and even close branches on weekends throughout the city.” This budget cycle has garnered similar outcry. Actor LeVar Burton, who hosted “Reading Rainbow,” recently sent a letter to members of the New York Public Library that urged New Yorkers to sign a petition calling for a reversal of the cuts.

Criminal justice reforms 

Bail reform, in particular, has compelled a lot of celebrities to act. In 2019, singer John Legend penned an op-ed with state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris calling for an end to cash bail. Rapper Common has been another staunch advocate for bail reform. A few years earlier, actor Jeffrey Wright narrated a video calling for a reform of the state’s public defense system.

Animal rights 

Horse carriages in Central Park have drawn passionate supporters for at least a decade. 

Ten years ago, actor Liam Neeson came to be known as a pseudo spokesperson for carriage operators and other supporters of the industry. They needed all the star power they could get because Alec Baldwin, Gloria Steinem, Lea Michele and Miley Cyrus all supported a ban. Years later, celebrities have continued to line up in support of a ban – especially after a horse named Ryder collapsed from the heat on a New York City street in 2022. The following month, Rooney and Kate Mara, Sarah Silverman, Ricky Gervais, Edie Falco, Marisa Tomei and many other celebrities signed a letter urging the City Council to ban horse-drawn carriages.

And it’s not just horse carriages. Fur bans have also garnered celebrities’ attention, including Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA, a vocal animal rights activist, who collaborated with animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2019 to write a letter to the New York City Council in support of a ban.