Former entertainment reporter now wields media to save the world
Ashlan Gorse Cousteau’s television career began as an entertainment journalist, interviewing celebrities on the red carpet and reporting for top-rated entertainment news shows, including Entertainment Tonight and E! News. She even worked on Saturday Night Live.
But after meeting her husband, Phillippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau, her interest in conservation and the natural world grew. As the couple worked on environmentally focused projects, she began to feel that her existing career in entertainment journalism and burgeoning career in travel and nature programming were at odds.
Struggling to put the two halves of her life together, Cousteau began to see ways entertainment and conservation could be linked to draw people into stories about the natural world and help them understand why conservation is so important.
“Entertainment can save the world,” she says. “We know that entertainment is powerful, and we must harness this power to change the world for the better.”
Cousteau will share her story at the Union College Leadership Symposium on November 7, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary of the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church and again at 7:00 p.m. in Heartland Hall at the College View Church.
Since meeting in 2010, the Cousteaus have teamed up to create and produce environmentally-focused content to bring attention to environmental topics, including projects with the World Wildlife Fund, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and Discovery Channel. Their documentary Nuclear Sharks, investigating the comeback of grey reef sharks that survived nuclear testing in Bikini Atoll, premiered during Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in 2016 and was the top-rated show on cable television.
In 2017, Cousteau gave a TEDx Talk at Scott Base in Antarctica, discussing how entertainment can be used to save the planet. Currently, Cousteau and her husband costar in the Travel Channel’s Caribbean Pirate Treasure and serve as hosts and team leaders of EarthEcho International Expeditions.
Cousteau has also served as host for the United Nations’ Convention on Migratory Species in Quito, Ecuador; presented at the Society of Environmental Journalists, DreamForce and SXSW Eco; was selected by former vice-president Al Gore as opening anchor for 24 Hours of Reality in 2015; and lobbies for environmental issues on Capitol Hill. She’s also served as an ambassador for brands including The North Face, Aqua Lung, and La Mer Skin Care, and as Eco Luxury Ambassador and celebrity blogger for DotLuxury. She also currently sits on the Board of the Environmental Media Association.
The annual Leadership Symposium is part of the Union College Leadership Program, which allows students to earn a leadership minor paired with almost any major. Students involved in this program participate in peer mentoring, leadership classes and weekly meetings to develop leadership skills.
“We want to make sure all students have a chance to exercise their abilities and to connect and learn from other leaders before they graduate,” said Linda Becker, director of the program. This program provides an opportunity for students to grow themselves and connect to internships and mentors to better their understanding of what it means to be a leader.
The College View Seventh-day Adventist Church, located on the corner of 48th and Prescott Streets, and are free and open to the public.
Lauren Bongard Schwarz is a Union College graduate and
freelance writer in Boseman, Montana.