Change Makers

Q&A with Lisa Marie Presley

Lisa Marie Presley — yes, that Presley — is one of World Vision’s new advocates for the world’s poorest children. We caught up with the singer and mother of four, who is currently on tour for her new album, Storm and Grace. See Lisa Marie at any of her upcoming tour dates through the end of November 2013, where concert-goers can stop by the World Vision table at each venue to sponsor a child.

You have a history of involvement with different children’s charities and philanthropies, even starting one of your own, the Presley Charitable Foundation, in 2007. Where does your interest in child advocacy come from?

When you have children, you get more sensitive to children. A really simple answer, but it’s true. When you become a mother, you see how children start off and how helpless and vulnerable they are. It makes you really want to go fight for them, stand up and help them, and do something for them — because they can’t do it for themselves.

Some people are in a position where they can help. And if you are, then I feel like you should. If you sit there and take and take and take, that’s boring and I have no interest. I’m in a position where I can do something to help the world be a better place, so I should do that.

So you think that people in a position of influence, who have the means to help, have a responsibility to do so?

Everyone has a responsibility, to some degree. We can all be self-absorbed and worry about our own problems, but then you find out what’s really going on, and it puts things in perspective. It’s not that difficult to help — $35 a month (the cost for child sponsorship) is not that hard when you think about it. It’s the price of concert tickets, or coffee every day for a month, all to help to potentially save someone’s life, give them food, and help their community.

Why did you choose to partner with World Vision?

Because it’s tried and true, and it’s been around for so long. I did the [World Vision Kisongo Trek] walk-through in Nashville, and I saw the interaction that goes on and where your money goes. That’s another key for me, the correspondence with a child and their family. World Vision is set up in such a way that it’s a really well-oiled machine. You guys are really in there doing it. It’s not for show, it’s not to make a commercial to get people to send a bunch of money — it’s really happening. That’s what appeals to me.

What excites you the most about your partnership with World Vision?

I’m excited about involving my whole family, the older kids (ages 24 and 21) and the little ones (4-year-old twins), too. My two older kids are sponsoring children, and they want to go to the field and do volunteer work with me next year. As soon as I told them about the possibility of doing that, they said, ‘We want to go, we really want to go!’ I was really happy to hear that. I want to get my hands dirty and refocus.

My daughter (actress Riley Keough) was just in Africa for six months shooting the new Mad Max movie. When she got back, she told me, ‘I’m horrified [at how some people live]. I want to do something. I need to come back here.’ She’s got a huge heart.

How do you balance your career — which is ramping up with this new album — family, and charity involvement?

It’s a juggling act, particularly when I’m on tour and working, because I’ve got the little ones with me and the big ones to keep my eye on. I do it in sections and try to compartmentalize everything. I have entire months when all I do is work and then months when I’m with the kids all the time.

Right now, it feels like everything is on fire because of the tour. It’s really day by day. Yesterday we were stuck on the tour bus all day long. It was like we were camping because the performance was out in the Oregon countryside. Thank goodness I’d gone grocery shopping the day before to get snacks!

It’s tough! I want to be with them all the time, but I love doing this, too. So you’ve got to keep it all balanced.

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