It’s not every day that the Empire State Building—historically packed with tourists, flashing iPhone cameras, and hordes of kids playing dangerously close to the precipice—is graced by the presence of a bona fide Oscar winner. So when Julianne Moore graced the lobby of the famous Midtown skyscraper, signature auburn hair and all, a palpable excitement spread from the elevator attendants to the sightseers to the assembled photographers. Intriguingly clad in a white dress with red, sinewy details, Moore had ventured to the heart of Manhattan to christen a ceremonial lighting of the famous building, which would be “wearing orange” in honor of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
Annually marked on June 2—so Moore still has another day to pick up a T-shirt—National Gun Violence Awareness Day has merged with the “Wear Orange” campaign. The campaign was started by the friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old Chicagoan who was shot dead in the back just a week after she performed at President Obama’s second inauguration. The community-based initiative has spread with the help of organizations like Everytown For Gun Safety, which Moore advocates on behalf of. To mark this year’s National Gun Violence Awareness day, more than 400 influencers, corporations, partner organizations, and “iconic landmarks” nationwide will “wear orange,” either on social media or IRL.
If Everytown, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country, sounds familiar, you probably have Moore to thank. As the Chair of the Everytown Creative Council, the actress has assembled a veritable who’s who of A-listers and artists to tweet and advocate on behalf of gun safety. Moore began her work with Everytown during the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left twenty children between the ages of 6 and 7 (as well as six adult staff members) dead.
“It was Newtown,” Moore told The Daily Beast. “That was when I realized—especially when the federal government didn’t act. Nothing happened. So I thought it was ridiculous of me to think that I was going to be keeping my children or anybody else safe by just pretending it’s not happening, and it felt like I wasn’t being a responsible parent or a responsible citizen if I didn’t get involved. So Shannon [Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action] was somebody I’d heard about and really admired—Mayor Bloomberg had done amazing work with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and they all came together to form Everytown. So I went to them and said, you know, what can I do to contribute?”
Since starting the Creative Council in 2015, Moore has starred in gun control PSAs alongside Jennifer Aniston and President Obama and, perhaps most importantly, rallied her famous friends to the cause. “I was going through my address book alphabetically,” Moore recalled in a 2015 People interview. “That’s all I did. ‘Please, are you interested,’ and the response has been overwhelming. I’m so, so thrilled. Everybody feels this way about this issue.”
The celebrity outpouring on behalf of Everytown has been undeniable. Last year alone, an endless list of luminaries lent their voices and Twitter feeds to the cause—Kim Kardashian, Sarah Silverman, Spike Lee, and Chelsea Handler, to name just a few, posted selfies tagged #WearOrange. Comedian Amy Schumer’s offering—a relatively risqué sports bra shot—came halfway close to breaking the internet.
Moore knows that actors and artists have potent platforms, and seems to have taken on the responsibility of motivating her celebrity cohorts to action. “Obviously, the one skill that actors have is that we are communicators,” she explained. “Additionally, we have access to different populations. And so I said, you know, ‘If I can get some people who are willing to talk about gun safety and gun violence as an issue, would that be helpful?’ So these are people who will make phone calls and tweet and call volunteers and speak openly about it, and I think it helps, because the more people speak on it, the more everyone is galvanized to do something.”
Still, Moore takes pains to note, normal people aren’t off the hook. “I think every citizen has a responsibility to use their voice,” she added. “Full stop. I really do. I think it’s really about being civic-minded.”
In the past, Moore has categorized Everytown as “not an anti-gun movement or a partisan movement. This is about safety.” But now that Trump, a self-described “Second Amendment person”—who Moore has criticized and protested against—is President, the work that Everytown does has become more vital, and more controversial, than ever. “I think it’s really important for people to realize that the NRA does not work for gun owners, they work for gun manufacturers,” Moore emphasized. “This is a lobbying group, it’s about money…The NRA was the largest contributor to President Trump’s campaign.”