Raphael Sbarge: I Started Green Wish In Response To Becoming A Father

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You might know Raphael Sbarge from playing Archie Hopper and Jiminy Cricket on the ABC series Once Upon a Time. He started acting at the age of 4 on Sesame Street and has gone on to a successful acting career. His past credits include The Guardian, Dexter, Prison Break, 24, The Good Wife, Chicago Fire, and Grey’s Anatomy. 

In 2009 he founded Green Wish – which helps local green, organizations fund projects for their communities through donations online and at local retailers. Raphael recently opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop to share more info on Green Wish and life as a single dad raising his children Gracie and Django.

CBS: You are one of the founders of Green Wish. Tell us how it started and how it works to raise money for other nonprofits to fund green initiatives.

RS: Green Wish started, quite honestly, as a response to becoming a father. I was overwhelmed by what I was hearing every day in the news, a world that our children are going to inherit. It emboldened me to try to find a way to make a difference, in some small way, to contribute to the next generation’s journey (and the generations to come). Green Wish chapters can be started in any city; each chapter supports not just one, but multiple groups doing important work that contributes to the local environment. “Help fund Green Projects in Your Neighborhood,” is the idea.

And with very little money, passionate, concerned people can start a chapter, and begin really making a difference right around them. In the Los Angeles area, for example, we support six groups that reach across the spectrum of air, earth, water and sustainable education. The newly created board in each city gets to decide where the money goes, and new groups can be picked after a term. Green Wish is a nonprofit that supports other nonprofits that are all local and environmentally based.

CBS: How can people get plugged in and make a difference in their communities? What kinds of projects do Green Wish and their partners support?

RS: Anyone who is interested can reach out to us at www.greenwish.com, or email us at greenish@greenwish.com to learn how to start a chapter in your neighborhood. This is about community-based giving, and we would love to find like-minded folks who share that passion. In our mind, every day is Earth Day.

CBS: Earth Day is coming up—what is Green Wish doing to raise awareness? Do you have any organized projects planned for that day?

RS: Yes. We have produced a short film about climate change with Green Wish board member Jess Adkins, a climatologist at Cal-Tech. In the film, he explains in “pure science” terms what global warming is all about. The issue of climate change gets politicized, and this is our attempt to explain it directly from a scientist, shot in the classrooms and offices at the university. We have attempted to make it accessible enough so that it can be shown to both adults and school-age children, and provide some scientific basis for the conversation. Green Wish also has a large educational arm, and this short film is our way of reaching out, and educating the next generation.  I encourage folks to find me (or Green Wish) on Facebook or Twitter, and we can keep you updated about the release.

Beyond this, I am going to several Earth Day events with some of our local nonprofits in Los Angeles, such as Friends of the Los Angeles River, LA Conservation Corps and Food Forward.

CBS: Your daughter, Gracie, is following in your footsteps. She had a role in “Gardens of the Night” at age 6. What prompted her to want to start acting? Does she have any upcoming projects?

RS: Ha! Yes. Gracie did appear in a movie I was in, as “my daughter” when she was about 6, and I was happy to have her there. But, thankfully she does not have the “acting bug” at this point. She seems to be a science and math geek, which makes me so happy!  If that changes though, I am there to walk with her through anything she would want to explore, as an actor.

CBS: You’ve taken on quite a few acting as well as directing/producing roles. Any favorite projects?

RS: I am really enjoying the producing and directing path that has come my way. I directed and produced two series that found a home a new online network this year (Evox Television), “On Begley Street” (about Ed Begley Jr.’s new green home) and “Jenna’s Studio,” a crafting show (part Martha Stewart, part Ellen Degeneres) with a funny host named Jenna De Angeles. There are several other things in the works, but it’s too early to mention them.

CBS: What is Django up to these days? Does he have plans to get into acting like his older sister?

RS: Django is a very sweet boy, a 9-year-old with a huge heart. As with Gracie, he seems to be more interested in other activities at this point, but if that turns—like it did for me at around 12—I am there for him. At this point, I’m more than happy for him to find it on his own, and not push him in that direction.

I started, by happenstance, at 4 on Sesame Street—it was the first year of the show, and I lived in the lower east side of Manhattan, when they were looking for kids. I did a bunch of shows, and then they wanted to offer me a contract (so my mother told me). She said no, as she didn’t want to be a stage mother (she was a successful costume designer in the theater), and she also said (and I believe this was very wise) that she wanted it to be MY choice to pursue it—not hers. She was concerned because it’s such a tough industry. I feel this way for both Gracie and Django, as well.

CBS: Are the kids excited for summer vacation? Do you have plans for a summer getaway?

RS: They are very excited for the summer. My hope is that we will get to visit my friends and family in NYC (I have a place there in Harlem), and I so want to take them to see the Redwoods this summer, majestic, and magical place that it is.

CBS: As a dad, do you parent your son and daughter differently? How do you teach the kids about being environmentally responsible?

RS: I don’t believe I parent them differently; rather, I try to respond to the different needs that they both have. Gracie is 11 (going on 30) and Django is 9 (with enough energy to power a small city).  I am divorced, and a solo dad— which at times makes me both mommy and daddy. That has its challenges. But we have found our way, despite all of us going through many changes, as we have adjusted to the new normal.

As to being “environmentally responsible,” I have found that providing a clear example is the best way to go. I recycle.  I conserve water and power. I talk about the issues we are facing in a clear way, and how we can make simple choices that really make a difference.

CBS: How has fatherhood changed you?

RS: It has definitely made me a better person. It has been a huge gift and a miracle to watch them grow, and discover the world. I came late to fatherhood (Gracie was born when I was 39), but I am so incredibly grateful that I didn’t miss it.

CBS: Do you have any new projects you’d like to tell us about?

RS: Yes! While I continue to recur on “Once Upon a Time” as Jiminy Cricket, I am in a new show, called “Murder in the First,” that premiers June 9 on TNT. This is a Steven Bochco show, with a remarkable cast (Taye Diggs, Kathleen Robertson, Tom Felton, James Cromwell, Richard Schiff); it follows one case over the entire season. I am really proud to be a part of it, and am looking forward to folks hearing more about it in the weeks to come.

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Photo credit: Russell Baer

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