Ashton Kutcher was taking part in a television interview to promote his series The Ranch. Very often in these sorts of situation the conversation only covers the show itself, but on this occasion things suddenly turned serious. And Kutcher made a revelation that took the audience’s breath away.
Kutcher was born on February 7, 1978, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He started his career as a model but quickly turned to acting. The 40-year-old’s first role was playing Michael Kelso in That ’70s Show.
It was on the Fox Network sitcom that Kutcher first met his wife Mila Kunis, who portrayed his on-screen girlfriend Jackie. But the couple didn’t start dating for several years after the show ended. In fact, in 2005 while he was still working on the series, Kutcher married actress Demi Moore.
Famously, Moore was 15 years older than him, not that the newlyweds seemed unduly concerned about the age gap. Still, the marriage didn’t last and Kutcher and Moore separated in 2011. However, before that happened, the couple had worked together on humanitarian efforts.
Kutcher and Kunis started dating in 2012 and married three years later. The pair share two children: daughter Wyatt, three, and son Dmitri, one. Away from his personal life, Kutcher has continued to act over the years, although he has recently become more interested in his work off-camera.
As well as being a Hollywood big gun, Kutcher is also a venture capitalist and has invested in more than 60 companies. And he’s also extremely focused on his charity work. So when he appeared on the Today show in October 2016, he discussed more than just his acting.
Kutcher was on the show to promote the second season of his Netflix hit The Ranch. The actor spent time talking about the comedy and also mentioned that his second baby was on the way. “I keep stumbling into fortune in my life and I don’t know how it happens,” the star told hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford.
As Kutcher touched on the success of his sitcom, the interviewers asked if there was anything that was “not going well” in his life at the time. “What can we pray for you about?” Gifford said with a laugh. And that was the moment when Kutcher made an incredible revelation.
While he was married to Moore, the couple had established a human rights organization called Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children. It was set up in 2009 and previously called the DNA Foundation, but the name was changed following Moore and Kutcher’s split. Moore revealed that she was inspired to make a difference after watching a documentary about child sex slavery in Cambodia.
“I was horrified, and as I did further research on the topic, I learned that it was happening in the United States, in our own backyards,” Moore had previously told MSN. “I knew I couldn’t live in a world in which this was taking place without doing something about it.” Following their marriage split, Moore and Kutcher both stayed involved in the foundation and announced in 2012 that they were concentrating on the function technology played in profiteering from crime.
“For the past three years we have focused our work broadly on combating child sex trafficking,” they said in a statement. “It has become crystal clear in our efforts that technology plays an increasingly large role in this crime and in the sexual exploitation of children overall. We believe that the technology-driven aspect of these crimes demands its own attention and investment.”
Kutcher gave an illuminating update on the organization during his Today show appearance. And he said that he had been working hard with the foundation during Obama’s presidential term. “When Barack Obama was going into office, I made a pledge that I was going to start fighting human trafficking,” he explained.
“I started a foundation called Thorn with my ex-wife and we’re building digital tools to fight human trafficking,” Kutcher went on. “So basically the purchase and the commerce for human trafficking is happening online just like everything else now. And so we’re building digital tools to fight back against it and we’ve built a tool to help law enforcement prioritize their caseload and recover victims and find traffickers.”
That’s when Kutcher revealed how successful the project has been. And he reeled off some impressive numbers to make his point. “We’ve identified and recovered over 6,000 trafficking victims this year and we’ve identified and recovered 2,000 traffickers,” he said.
Gifford and Kotb congratulated the actor for his “fantastic” achievement. The clip of the interview has now been viewed more than one million times, and many commenters were united in their admiration of Kutcher for using his time and money to give back. “Thanks Ashton! You are the best of the best,” one YouTube user wrote. Others revealed they had “much respect” for him and one person added, “He’s on his way to becoming more than an actor. He’ll leave a legacy.”
While not every commenter was happy that Kutcher also endorsed Hillary Clinton during the same interview, they couldn’t help but praise his hard work. “6,000 lives better this year because of Thorn, plus so many more by catching the child predators since they have so many victims during their lives,” one commenter shared. “Good on you Ashton and Demi.”
A few months later, in February 2017, Kutcher gave a speech at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. His emotions were on display for all to see as he discussed his fight against human slavery and how he is seeking to “defend the right to pursue happiness.” While he recognized that people don’t always take celebrities seriously when they veer away from their usual lines of work, he claimed that battling human trafficking and helping prevent children from being exploited was his “day job” and added that he’s “sticking to it.”
Warming to his harrowing theme, Kutcher said, “But the right to pursue happiness, for so many, is stripped away. It’s raped. It’s abused. It’s taken by force, fraud, or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.”
Thorn’s web tool Spotlight helps the authorities in the fight against underage sex trafficking. The application trawls through the 100,000-odd adverts posted online every day, many illegally and some of which feature children. According to Spotlight’s website, the tool “takes this massive amount of data and turns it into an asset for law enforcement.” Five thousand law enforcement offices across all 50 states in the U.S. and in Canada are now using Spotlight. “We are dedicated to ending child sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children,” Thorn’s website declares. “And we won’t stop until every child can just be a kid.”
Meanwhile, although Kutcher’s success is certainly admirable, he isn’t done. The star is now expanding his efforts to help protect children – and he’s aiming high. “I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet,” he told Today.