I’m always tickled when parents freak out over a child’s decision to pursue acting in college. For the straight and narrow parent, it’s the “throwing good money after bad money” call. Personally, most of the serious actors I’ve known my lifetime were intelligent, insightful, and committed. The challenge was the ability to make a living or a fortune with their craft. It is why I don’t begrudge any of them from taking up second, third, or fourth careers or occupations. Why stay in the actor box especially in such a fickle business.

For the mega successful ones, they have the resources and celebrity capital to explore other callings. They will give more and are willing to invest their own financial capital into the next act on their terms. This week Kevin Costner sold BP 32 centrifugal oil-and-water separators from his Ocean Therapy Solutions company at $500K each. If you’ve followed Kevin’s movie career, it’s a no-brainer to make the connection of the producer, actor, director’s interest in clean water solutions to his 1995 “Waterworld.” That was 6 years after the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Costner bankrolled the development and research for this project. Sure, the story of an Academy Award winning producer type bankrolling technology lacks the romance of geeks in a garage; but check out this industrial video for the oil-and-water separator. This ain’t no “Waterworld” for sure.Edward James Olmos is also banking on his celebrity and his own boat. He took CNN’s Anderson Cooper out on his vessel (2 celebrities on a boat), but also invested his own movie making chops to this film about the gulf spill. Eddie isn’t about the science, but his own passion around the gulf spill as he considers himself a member of the boating community that navigates these waters.

Perhaps the persons in the film aren’t identified for the sake of protecting their reputations and livelihoods (BP is the biggest game in town), but I’d be interested in knowing who they are and their connections.

Sean Penn is profiled in the July issue of Vanity Fair for his hands-on, hunkered down humanitarian work in Haiti. Sean has set up camp on his own personal, political, and celebrity capital and on his own terms bringing food, medical and other relief aid to earthquake victims. For Sean this may be a third act after his divorce from actress Robin Wright Penn (his second). Not a guy who likes to be spotted by paparazzi on the home turf, but seems amiable to a few snaps of helping people in need.

In the article Sean not only pumps his resources and considerable personal time, but is able to get Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on the phone to send over morphine and other medical supplies, enlists prominent philanthropists to bankroll an organization, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, and influential friends across party lines who think Sean’s too cool and the cause too great, not to say “yes.” Here’s an example of how relationships with resources can come to the table and make things happen – baby steps though they may be in comparison to the devastation.

Sean’s star power and dedication gives him access to a wide range of resources regardless of his politics or anger management issues with the shutter speed press. It also gives him resources to do his Haiti work on his terms eclipsing Wyclef Jean’s efforts through his Yele Haiti organization which came under financial scrutiny during the height of Haiti’s earthquake crisis. What Wyclef had in cool points among his fan pages on-line and off, and activist artists couldn’t match the access a Sean Penn has to world leaders, and to the personal and relationship resources with business movers and shakers; even Sean’s own Marlboro Man swagger with a side arm plays well with military personnel on the scene. Is it a matter of Sean fitting the narrative of Rebel with a Cause and money?

It doesn’t hurt that the Hill is starstruck. A congressional hearing becomes the mutual love/envy fest of popularity and power.

There is no picture so effective of a star with a cause than Audrey Hepburn in Somalia. She had her day in the sun but UNICEF became a new calling and a new day.

Audrey offered her compassion as well as her celebrity. She became a role model for future UNICEF spokespersons. This was not a cause Holly Golightly would take up; perhaps it’s where Sister Luke in “The Nun’s Story” (a serious role for Hepburn) left off.