Ben Affleck is expanding his horizons–literally. The actor has signed up to join Nightline as a special correspondent reporting on the humanitarian crisis in the Congo.
Affleck,35, who’s first essay airs Thursday on ABC, took a Nightline crew into Africa with the goal of spreading the word on a story that gets relatively little notice in the U.S.
”It’s fairly clear that in the modern age that there is a currency to celebrity, or celebrity is a currency, really,” Affleck said on Wednesday. ”I’ve discovered that you can spend it in a lot of ways, or you can squander it. You can be taxed, as well. I really started thinking long and hard about how to use that currency as long as I had it.”
Affleck, who is married to Jennifer Garner and is father to the couple’s 2-year old daugther Violet, has been to the Congo three times in the past year. He said his motive was to learn about the war and hunger that have killed thousands of people per month in the past decade in hopes that the outside world would be moved to help, and his celebrity opened some doors.
His representatives approached Nightline with the idea of reporting on his journey. Affleck said he was impressed by Nightline stories in 2005 where Hotel Rwanda actor Don Cheadle visited that country.
In his first essay, Affleck says, ”I want to try to bring people along to learn and if they might not tune into this unless there was some celebrity involved in it, either because they’re interested in the celebrity or because they want to see the celebrity kind of make a fool of himself, then so be it."
He doesn’t act as a reporter, Nightline executive producer James Goldston says, but rather presents the story as a personal journey, following Affleck as he met with survivors of the conflict, relief officials and even some warlords.
”I was quite persuaded by how candid he was about the cliche of it, or the potential cliche,” Goldston said