‘We have to do better for our kids’: Matthew McConaughey discusses Uvalde activism as he becomes one of the “People of the Year” in 2022

VIDEO: Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey delivers emotional remarks at White House press briefing

HOUSTON – A grieving actor Matthew McConaughey and a pair of little girl’s Converse sneakers with a heart: those are one of the searing images imprinted on many Americans’ minds in the wake of the grisly, devastating mass shooting of children and their teachers at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School in May.

Most will remember McConaughey -- a Uvalde native -- as he made his deeply personal 22-minute speech in June at the White House, but he’s remained out front, along with his wife Camila Alves McConaughey, in the months since the tragedy, continuing to work for advocacy efforts that focus on responsibility over control concerning guns.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 07: Camila Alves McConaughey, wife of actor Matthew McConaughey, holds a pair of shoes worn by one of the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on June 07, 2022 in Washington, DC. After meeting with President Joe Biden, McConaughey, a native of Uvalde, expressed his support for new legislation for more gun control in the wake of the elementary school shooting in his home town that left 19 children and 2 adults dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

For all of his work, McConaughey -- the once rom-com star now Academy Award winner and Texas icon -- has been named one of People magazine’s “People of the Year” in 2022. He shares the honor this year with Mila Kunis, Jennifer Hudson and “Abbott Elementary” creator and star Quinta Brunson.

In a revealing interview with McConaughey, People magazine revisited those devastating first days after Uvalde and asked him about his experiences with the families and being present with them in their grief. He also addressed eventually bringing his family -- including his own children -- to the grief-stricken Texas town.

“We need to go there and share the stories nationally and worldwide,” McConaughey told People. “We didn’t go to D.C. to (have) a press conference. We weren’t organized, but we were armed with frontline stories from the families. I had to remind myself many times, ‘Matthew, you ain’t got to be an expert on fricking gun control. You don’t have to sound like a lawyer who knows all the points and constitutional rights.’ Trust me, I studied — I did as much of a crash course as I could. But I was like, ‘No, remember you’re going there as a human, as a dad, as an American, as somebody who’s got kids that go to school and would hope this wouldn’t happen anymore but [knows] it will again . . . someone who’s going, ‘Come on, this can’t become status quo. Bulls—.’”

People magazine noted the McConaugheys’ just keep livin Foundation is supporting grief counseling and other community needs for the people of Uvalde. To help, go to jklivinfoundation.org/uvalde.

If you’d like to watch his White House speech again, you can view it below.

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Read the full People profile here.

This year’s special editions of People will be released Friday.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.