Sean Penn

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Sean Penn

Sean Penn

Photo credit: 
Chris Pizzello/AP Photo

Sean Penn

Date of Birth

Birthday: August 17
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California

Sean Penn is a two-time Academy Award-winning actor, filmmaker, author and has become an American icon in a career spanning over four decades.

As co-founder of the emergency relief nonprofit CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), Penn's work has come into sharp focus. First established in January 2010 in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic Haiti earthquake, CORE continues to bring immediate aid and recovery to underserved communities across the globe. Surprisingly, it was in Penn's own backyard that CORE's work evolved in 2020 to become so essential. 

Sean Penn is a two-time Academy Award-winning actor, filmmaker, author and has become an American icon in a career spanning over four decades.

As co-founder of the emergency relief nonprofit CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), Penn's work has come into sharp focus. First established in January 2010 in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic Haiti earthquake, CORE continues to bring immediate aid and recovery to underserved communities across the globe. Surprisingly, it was in Penn's own backyard that CORE's work evolved in 2020 to become so essential. 

In March 2020, Penn again jumped immediately into action, this time with CORE co-founder/CEO Ann Lee in response to the most devastating health crisis of our lifetimes: COVID-19.  With a community-based approach that works alongside state and local governments and other NGOs and private-sector partners, CORE quickly became one of the only nonprofits on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic, providing relief services and resources including over 6.3 million tests and over 2.6 million vaccines administered.   Initially in California and expanding into Georgia, Chicago, New Orleans, Navajo Nation, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and India, Brazil and Haiti, CORE — applying its model from Penn's decades-worth of experience — created and sustains a model for implementation of effective, life-saving relief efforts.  This focus reflects CORE's longtime mission, initially established by Penn's instincts and an ethical imperative to save lives and to step up on behalf of those most vulnerable during times of crisis.  

Penn's hands-on, visionary leadership at CORE, formerly known as J/P HRO, is drawn from his experiences on the ground in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Years later, Penn activated CORE's relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria's devastation, and in North Carolina and Florida after Hurricane Florence and Matthew ravaged communities.  

In 2022, CORE responded to devastating floods in Pakistan, and the hardest hit communities from Hurricane Ian in Florida and Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico. CORE is also currently providing vital humanitarian relief to those in need amid the dire crisis in Ukraine.

For his humanitarian efforts, Penn has received numerous honors and awards, among them: The Los Angeles Press Club presented the 2021 Bill Rosenthal Public Service Award to Penn and CORE co-founder and CEO Ann Lee for their contributions to civic life, Penn received The Commander's Award for Service (US Army 82nd Airborne Division); 82nd Airborne Award for  Meritorious Service; the Operation Unified Response JTF Haiti Certificate from Lieutenant General, US Army Commander P.K. Keen; the 1st Recon 73rd Division Coin of Excellence; 2nd Brigade Combat Team Coin of Excellence; Commendation of Excellence United States Southern Command; Award of Excellence by the Deputy Commander US Southern Command; the 2010 Hollywood Humanitarian Award from the Hollywood Film Festival; the 2011 Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America; and the Children's and Families Global Development Fund Humanitarian Award, presented by the Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti. 

In July 2010, in recognition of his contributions to the nation's recovery, Penn was knighted by Haitian President Rene Preval in a ceremony in Port-Au-Prince. He was later named Ambassador at Large for Haiti, presented with this honor by President Michel Martelly at a ceremony in Port-Au-Prince in 2012. Penn was awarded the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, a tribute for extraordinary solidarity by the Haitian Parliament in a combined meeting of the National Assembly and the International Humanitarian Service Award from the American Red Cross. In December 2012, he was also named Special Advisor to Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. 

In addition to these innumerable humanitarian efforts, Penn has been a long-time activist and promoter of civil rights. In 2002, he penned a prescient open letter, which he published in The Washington Post and New York Times, to President George W. Bush against the planned invasion of Iraq. In 2004, Penn wrote a two-part feature in The San Francisco Chronicle after a second visit to the war-torn Iraq. In 2005, he wrote a five-part feature in the same paper reporting from Iran during the election which led to the Ahmadinejad regime. Additionally, Penn published landmark interviews with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba's President Raul Castro for The Nation and The Huffington Post; Penn's interview with Castro was his first-ever with an international journalist.  Penn's 2016 story for Rolling Stone found him in the jungle of Mexico interviewing then at large drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera prior to his capture by the Mexican authorities. In 2013, Penn played a vital role in getting wrongfully imprisoned American entrepreneur Jacob Ostreicher released from a Bolivian prison, for which he was honored from the Aleph Institute in 2015. In 2020, he published opinion pieces confronting the federal government's inaction in response to the current pandemic, informed by his frontline experiences within CORE. 

Of course, Penn has also established himself as one of cinema's true iconoclasts. As an actor, Penn has been nominated five times for the Academy Award as Best Actor for DEAD MAN WALKING, SWEET AND LOWDOWN, I AM SAM and won his first Oscar in 2003 for his searing performance in Clint Eastwood's MYSTIC RIVER and his second Oscar as Best Actor in 2009 for Gus Van Sant's MILK. For his performance as gay rights activist Harvey Milk, Penn also won the Screen Actors Guild, New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics awards for Best Actor. He is the recipient of Best Actor prizes from the Cannes (SHE'S SO LOVELY), Berlin (DEAD MAN WALKING) and Venice (HURLY BURLY; 21 GRAMS) film festivals, plus a Golden Globe Award   for Mystic River. His noteworthy credits also include Terrence Malick's THE THIN RED LINE and THE TREE OF LIFE, Brian De Palma's CARLITO'S WAY, David Fincher's THE GAME, Amy Heckerling and Cameron Crowe's iconic FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, and many more.  

Penn's work as a filmmaker includes INTO THE WILD, which he adapted for the screen, produced and directed. The film, based on Jon Krakauer's best-selling non-fiction book, premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, was named to countless Top Ten Films of 2007 lists, and ultimately garnered two Academy Award nominations as well as nominations from the DGA and WGA for Penn's directing and writing, respectively. He made his directorial debut with 1991's THE INDIAN RUNNER, which he also wrote and produced. In 1995, he directed, wrote and produced his second feature, THE CROSSING GUARD. His third film as director/producer was 2001's THE PLEDGE starring Jack Nicholson, which was nominated for the Cannes Palme d'Or. Penn directed and starred alongside Dylan Penn in FLAG DAY, which premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Penn also wrote and directed a short film, USA, part of the compilation film 11'09'01 which gathered 11 acclaimed directors from around the world to create short films in response to the horrific events of September 11, 2001. The film was nominated for a French Cesar in 2003 and received special prizes at the Venice Film Festival and from the National Board of Review.  

Penn, in association with Vice Studios, is currently in post-production on the highly anticipated untitled documentary on the war in Ukraine and its President Volodymyr Zelensky.  

Among his many career honors, in 2002 Penn was presented with the Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and in 2003, became the youngest recipient to ever receive the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Sebastian Film Festival. In 2004, he was honored with the John Steinbeck Award for outspoken torch-bearers in the creative arts. In 2008, Penn received the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting, after being presented in 2007 with the Director of the Year Award for INTO THE WILD from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Penn served as President of the jury for the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival and later that year was named a Knight in the French Legion of Honor. 

In addition to a career as an award-winning actor and filmmaker, Penn earned merit in the literary space with his debut novel, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, which Atria Books released in 2018. The satirical novel, told from the perspective of Pappy Pariah, tells the life story of the titular Bob Honey. The book became a national bestseller and prompted a sequel, Bob Honey Sings Jimmy Crack Corn, which was released by Rare Bird Books in 2019. Penn received praise from critics and authors alike, calling his work "blisteringly funny" and "crackling with life."

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Awards & Nominations

No Nominations | 1 Honor
Bob Hope Humanitarian Award - 2022
  • Winner
  • Sean Penn, as Honoree

The Television Academy database lists prime-time Emmy information. Click here to learn more

Sean Penn
Sean Penn
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Jimmy Kimmel and Sean Penn celebrate Sean Penn’s receipt of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award
Bob Hope Humanitarian Award recipient Sean Penn speaks at the induction ceremony.
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Sean Penn receives the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award

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Sean Penn accepts the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award on November 16, 2022.

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Images
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Sean Penn accepts the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award on November 16, 2022.

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Images
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Jimmy Kimmel presents Sean Penn the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award on November 16, 2022.

Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP Images
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Sean Penn accepts the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award on November 16, 2022.

Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP Images
Sean Penn
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Sean Penn accepts the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award on November 16, 2022.

Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP Images
Jimmy Kimmel and Sean Penn celebrate Sean Penn’s receipt of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award
Camera

Jimmy Kimmel and Sean Penn celebrate Penn being honored with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award

Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP
Bob Hope Humanitarian Award recipient Sean Penn speaks at the induction ceremony.
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Sean Penn accepts the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP
Sean Penn
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Sean Penn is the 2022 recipient of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award.

Chris Pizzello/AP Photo
Sean Penn
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Sean Penn is the co-founder and chairperson of the board of the nonprofit organization Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), which has distributed aid to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew as well as administering free COVID-19 tests in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Pizzello/AP Photo
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