Most Influential People2019

Jane Goodall

By Leonardo DiCaprio
Jane Goodall, primatologist and anthropologist
Marco Grob—Trunk Archive

I admired Jane Goodall long before we ever met. I knew of her landmark work with chimpanzees in Gombe. I had read about her, read books written by her, but it was only when I got to spend more time with Jane a few years ago that I truly felt I was in the presence of one of the most impactful and important leaders on the planet. She chose to go to Tanzania at the age of 26 to study chimpanzees, and the research she conducted there, in the jungle at the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, ended up changing behavioral science forever.

Since then she has committed her life to environmental protection. Even now, at the young age of 85, Jane spends nearly every day spreading optimism and raising awareness worldwide; hers is a powerful message to protect the inherent rights of every living creature, to provide hope for future generations and to sound an urgent call against the greatest environmental threat of all—climate change. Anyone who has heard her speak, or heard her story, has been mesmerized by her life’s work and moved by her philanthropic legacy.

She has become a very close friend—and it is this friendship and unwavering commitment to our shared causes for which I, and so many others worldwide, am forever grateful.

DiCaprio is an Oscar­-winning actor, a producer and an environmental advocate