South African model and humanitarian Topaz Page-Green is truly making a difference in this world with her nonprofit, The Lunchbox Fund. Nearly 10 years strong, the organization – whose board of directors includes everyone from Mario Batali and Joaquin Phoenix to Salman Rushdie – is dedicated to providing daily meals for impoverished students in South Africa and now includes a genius app called Feedie, which turns your restaurant food photos into donations to the fund. The much needed sustenance provided by The Lunchbox Fund also encourages kids to stay in school, where the risk of HIV infection, abuse and unwanted pregnancy is greatly reduced. Topaz is a true leader and inspiration, we can’t wait for you to meet her, our latest Woman of Style.
Early Life & Career
Growing Up In South Africa
"I remember it being wild. A lot of playing in wide open spaces. Sunburns. Dogs. Fleas. Adventures. Getting into trouble. Getting dirty, playing in mud, thorns in barefeet, the sea, unpopulated beaches, rock pools alive with starfish, seaweed, urchins and anemonies…that kind of good stuff."
Her First Job
"Packing groceries at a small grocery store when I was 14 or 15. I used the money I earned to buy myself food at school."
Topaz holding her Green Card. Photo: Courtesy
The Pluses Of A Modeling Career
"[Modeling] enabled me to stay in the country and city that my heart was intent on living in."
Topaz with Joaquin Phoenix in 2002. Photo: Getty Images
Early Memories From Modeling
"I was laughed at for carrying my portfolio around in a plastic grocery bag. I was completely oblivious to the fact that anybody would find that unseemly. I couldn’t afford an ‘actual’ bag."
Her Role Models
"One of my greatest mentors began teaching me as an 8-year-old at school, and remains a beloved friend to this day. She has guided me through much of life and was a major influence for me when I started The Lunchbox Fund. She continues to teach compassion, grace, humor and patience. Nelson Mandela is also an eternal role model."
On Starting The Lunchbox Fund
"The Lunchbox Fund was born out of a reaction to a visceral need in my home country. Over 12 million kids there live below the poverty line, with over 4 million of those children having no access to government school feeding programs. That’s unacceptable, and my imperative is to close that gap. Our board has developed slowly over time. What we do is simple and it is easy for people to relate."
Her Must-Download App
"We are a small, hardworking team. Sometimes it feels like each of us does the work of a thousand people. We’re constantly trying to come up with innovative and inspiring ways to fundraise. We recently entered the tech sphere by developing an app that enables food lovers around the world to turn their passion for sharing photos of food into sharing real food for children in need. A philanthropic foodie is a Feedie, and that’s the name of our app!"
One of the biggest obstacles standing between people who want to help and people who need help: 'saying' versus 'doing'. We endeavor to make the 'doing' part as easy and accessible as possible, which is why Feedie is such a growing success.
"One of our milestone moments was when a boy who relied entirely on our program for sustenance graduated high school with straight As, receiving a full college scholarship to study chemical engineering. For many of these kids, getting a meal is the only reason they come to and stay in school."
We aim to feed 50,000 kids by 2016 and 4 million in our lifetime. Through our program 25 cents feeds a schoolchild a day.
Style & Personal Life
Her Style Go-Tos
"I love a flowy fit, neutral tones, quirky patterns, and hand-me-downs. My experiences in life influence everything I do…I suppose that includes my style."
What Makes Her Feel Glamorous
"I always feel that knowing that you’re working toward a worthy goal, having confidence in your unique self, and being able to laugh a lot — even when things are rigorous! — is the best recipe for feeling glamorous. That, and not over thinking your natural sense of style."
Photo: Getty Images
Her Beauty Mantra
"Sunblock. Everything with a high sun protection factor."
Topaz and Lunchbox Fund supporter Liv Tyler. Photo: Getty Images
Her Trick For Finding Balance
"Spending time with close friends who know you well."
My days vary so radically that there really is no such thing as a typical day. What I enjoy are the surprises I invariably get daily.
Photo: Getty Images
Three Things Most People Don't Know About Topaz
1.) "I’m a closet ceramicist and gardener." 2.) "My lucky number is 9." 3.) "I do a very special penguin dance."