Matthew McConaughey is an Oscar winner, a native Texan and a professor at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, where he’s arguably the best-known, most visible fan of UTLonghorn football. And right now, you could say he’s the “cool CDC” – an unofficial spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using his Texas swagger to spread messages about health, safety and positivity during the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s been doing that through his various social media platforms.
McConaughey’s long-standing motto, “Just keep livin,'” has taken on new meaning during the pandemic. The motto started after the death of his father in 1992.
“I’d never found a place where that didn’t apply to a situation, and now, it’s just quite literal,” McConaughey told Texas Standard host David Brown. “It’s a positive message; it’s not just a defensive message.”
McConaughey said he began speaking out about COVID-19 because he wanted to separate fact from fiction about the illness, and to offer common-sense advice.
“One of the first things we knew was, Hey, stay at home if you can,” he said. “And the second thing we knew was wearing a mask can lower the risk from sharing or getting the virus.”
McConaughey and his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, have raised funds for the coronavirus cause and donated more than 200,000 protective masks. He has also been offering other kinds of help as the pandemic continues.
“There’s a million things to do good right now,” he said. “I’m just trying to ride it week by week and see, What message is necessary, what can help, what’s the tone of the message?”
His social media posts have ranged from funny to serious. This week, he and boxer Canelo Álvarez posted a Spanish-language video about wearing masks.
There’s also McConaughey’s new alter ego, Bobby Bandito.
“He’s a guy that came to my mind about 2 in the morning, about 10 hours before I shot the video,” McConaughey said. “I was wanting to get the bandana message out, and everything that I saw online was very solemn, very medicinal. … I said, you know what? I think we’re a few weeks into this and a good message needs a little bit of humor and a wink to it.”
He turned a staid public service announcement into a character-driven message – with emphasis on the B-words: badass, bandito and bandana.
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McConaughey also joined the horde of people taking up online gaming, but with his own twist. He played virtual bingo with a community of seniors, getting his family involved, too. His prowess as a bingo caller has led to 34 more invitations, he said.
Though a recent order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allows more businesses to reopen May 1, McConaughey plans to stay at home.
“I understand that we need to get the economy going again,” he said. “We’re all in an unprecedented position, and there is no playbook. We’re all just trying to walk that fine line, and hopefully we’re doing it right.”
He said he is fortunate to be able to stay home right now and not have to go into work, but also knows that others don’t have that luxury.
“I just really hope we don’t go [out of our homes] too early, and I really hope that individually, while we’re more responsible for each other than ever before, we can really take precautions – that we don’t relax too quickly, that we can really take one for the team, because individual sacrifice today is going to be more freedom for all of us tomorrow,” he said.
Web story by Shelly Brisbin.
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