We may have lost actress and Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor in 2011, but her memory lives on — so much so that we still honor her birthday on Feb. 27. To mark what would have been Taylor’s 85th, Miley Cyrus narrated a tribute video for Taylor’s nonprofit, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Starting with a Carl Jung quote declaring, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are,” the video opens with a young Taylor racing across the countryside as Cyrus intones, “Once in a lifetime, a person comes along with true character.” Cyrus’s introduction is followed by a clip of Taylor herself stating, “I call upon you to prove that we are a human race.”
Cyrus — who is an advocate for the LGBTQ community herself — goes on to celebrate Taylor’s individuality, drive, and passion, sharing how all three served to make her a force for change in both the entertainment industry and the world at large. Interspersed with clips from her most transcendent performances, Cyrus speaks about Taylor’s “identity, beliefs, challenges, and her unwavering will to fight,” an on-point message, given what society is dealing with these days.
But the video doesn’t just serve to honor Taylor’s memory — it also delivers a powerful reminder of what an outspoken advocate she became in launching her foundation. Taylor founded ETAF in 1991 and was instrumental in creating an open dialogue about AIDS and shining a spotlight on those who wanted to sweep the issue under the rug. In one powerful moment, Taylor is shown addressing George Bush, saying, “President Bush, your policy is wrong — dead wrong. And you know it.”
Fittingly, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the time when Taylor first wore a red ribbon to the Oscars in honor of AIDS awareness.
Cyrus is right when she notes that Taylor shook the world into action. Taking all the fame she gained as a young starlet, a marquee actress, and tabloid fodder for her failed relationships and near-death experiences, Taylor shifted the world’s focus to AIDS health care issues and helped bring a voice to the voiceless, creating a new world where those suffering from such a terrible disease could get the love, support, and care that they needed and deserved.
It was a cause Taylor was passionate about to the very end, pledging her all to those who were affected by it. As Taylor stated at one point in the video, “You do your bit with all of your heart. I’ll do my bit with all of my heart. We will make a goddamned difference.”
Earlier in the video, Cyrus refers to Taylor as “the closest America has come to royalty,” but her comment lauding the star as a “true warrior” that honors the actress and activist most fittingly.
This video serves as a reminder of just how powerful Taylor’s impact was on the world. At the end, there’s a reminder to donate to Taylor’s foundation, which continues to work tirelessly in honor of its founder to help bring an end to the AIDS epidemic. In fact, close friend Kathy Ireland has pledged to match all donations made to the foundation up to $100,000.
Taylor may no longer be with us, but her legacy lives on.
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