One of these memorable characters was likely your introduction to Kivanc Tatlitug.
Maybe you’re a fan of foreign films and saw him portray Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu in “The Butterfly’s Dream”, Turkey’s 2014 submission to the Oscar’s foreign film category. Maybe, like me, you discovered him as Kurt Seyit Eminoff in “Kurt Seyit ve Sura” on Netflix when searching for a historical drama to hold you over between seasons and books of "Outlander". Maybe a friend had already discovered Kivanc and recommended you watch one of his best known television series “Ask-I Memnu” or “Kuzey Guney”. However it happened, suddenly you had a new interest taking over your life.
If you’re like me, and tend towards obsession when cultivating a new interest, once you started watching one of his movies or television shows you probably started searching for anything and everything that you could find about that series and character. Then, once you had binged your way thru that entire series (much quicker than you ever expected you’d complete a foreign, subtitled series full of actors, actresses and places you had never seen before), you were surely desperate to watch more of this talented, handsome actor and the complex, layered characters he breathes life into. You choose another series and only grow more entranced. And so you started researching Kivanc himself and not just his body of work and characters.
I don’t know about you, but that is how I began my quest for all things Kivanc. For over a year he has held a steady position near the top of my “recent searches” lists, my favorite pictures of him saved and scattered amongst pictures of myself and family on my phone’s camera roll and YouTube never fails to suggest some Kivanc videos in my top recommendations. The basics-age, family, resume, etc. are all readily available on any site like IMDB or Wikipedia. I found plenty of pictures and videos that revealed Kivanc as an animal lover and avid outdoorsman who especially loves the sea and water sports. Further searches led me to pictures and photo spreads from his various ad campaigns and his modeling career. A few weeks after I self diagnosed myself as a full fledged Kivanc-a-holic, I came across this picture during one of my daily Google searches:
So, Kivanc either attended a UNICEF event or works with the organization. This is great, I thought. Another reason to love Kivanc. Not only is he talented, handsome, engaging with fans, athletic, handsome, talented (I know I already listed handsome and talented but we can all agree it bears mentioning twice!), is devoted to family, loves dogs, etc., he also supports this wonderful organization, UNICEF! I myself have donated to many UNICEF fundraisers and am always sending out their beautiful hand drawn greeting cards to further support the organization. We have something in common, I said to myself. Then after I stopped laughing at myself, I added another term to my list of Google searches “Kivanc Tatlitug UNICEF” and learned that he is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
For those that don’t know, UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund, a humanitarian organization which provides assistance to children throughout the world in many ways such as providing vaccines, medications, food, educational materials, emergency shelters and family reunifications. Two thirds of their funding comes from governments around the world. The other third is through private donations and fundraising.
An important component of fundraising is making sure that people know about the organization, its mission and its work. This is where celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors like Kivanc come in. We live in a celebrity obsessed world. Everything a celebrity does, every place they go, everything they wear is documented and spread across the net. It sounds like a very shallow culture but it also has its benefits. By working on projects with UNICEF, talking about it, advocating and educating about it, Goodwill Ambassadors use their celebrity to raise awareness of UNICEF. This is what Kivanc has been doing since 2011. His Ambassadorship is of particular importance as Turkey currently hosts over 3 million Syrian refugees (the most in the world) and half of those are children. Access to quality education for all children (especially those that are displaced or disabled) is a cause Kivanc regularly works towards.
Earlier this year, he posted a video advocating for UNICEF’s Down Syndrome Speech Therapy Program which seeks to provide educational support services to help children with Down Syndrome reach their full potential.
In 2016 Kivanc participated in a UNICEF campaign to raise awareness via social media on the importance and need for children in disaster stricken areas to continue their education uninterrupted. He shared this photo of himself as a child with UNICEF Turkey and stated:
As millions of children go to school every day across the world, millions of others are unable to or are forced to study under very difficult conditions. Education is a basic right for every child. It's their hope for a better future. UNICEF has been working for 70 years to ensure that every child and especially those living in crisis zones go to school. I dedicate this photograph to all these brave students who continue to study no matter what in very difficult situations.
- Kivanc Tatlitug
In 2015 he participated in the “There is Another You” campaign. The campaign strove for full social inclusion in recreational and educational activities of children with disabilities. To achieve this goal, UNICEF sought to collect 1 million promises from citizens in Turkey to change their attitudes and outlooks towards disabilities.
In 2014, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, Kivanc and UNICEF showcased John Lennon’s “Imagine” and invited the world to share on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube messages on what they imagine a better world to be.
Translation: It is possible to offer a much better world to each child and join us, join UNICEF to make this a reality. Just imagine what we all can do together. Download it, sing your version of IMAGINE and upload. Don’t forget: each upload means a contribution to children no matter how modest it could be.
As he continues embracing and advocating for the displaced, disabled and underprivileged children of the world and using his celebrity to make the world a better place for them. It’s not hard to imagine that Kivanc’s heart is even bigger than his fan base, his devotion even deeper than his inner beauty and his potential to continue making the world a better, safer place for its most vulnerable citizens greater than his talent to move and touch us thru the characters we’ve fallen in love with. He has certainly inspired me to IMAGINE what I can do as well.
Kivanc's generosity and his love of children inspired all of us to contribute to these worthy causes. Last year for Kivanc's birthday which is on October 27th, Kivanc Tatlitug North America (KTNA) campaigned for member contributions to the UNICEF children's school fund. This year for Kivanc's birthday, again consistent with Kivanc's love of children, KTNA has launched a campaign for the Washington Turkish Women's Association for the Welfare of Turkish Children. WTWA sends all funds directly to benefit Turkish children in their education. To contribute to this worthy cause click on this link. Deadline for contributions October 25th.
*All pictures Courtesy of Ay Yapim
Jennifer Perna discovered Kivanc in the spring of 2017 via Kurt Seyit ve Sura during an Outlander “droughtlander”. She has degrees in History and American Studies and loves the Arts & learning about other cultures-currently and especially Turkish culture. She lives in NJ with her family and two 85 lb. lap dog fur babies.