Jason Russell

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Jason Russell
InvisibleChildren founder&celeb.jpg
Russell and Kristen Bell in 2009
Born (1978-10-12) October 12, 1978 (age 40)
El Cajon, California, U.S.
Residence San Diego, California, U.S.
Alma mater USC School of Cinematic Arts
Occupation Film director, charity worker, activist
Known for Kony 2012
Board member of Invisible Children, Inc.
Spouse(s) Danica Jones (2004–present)
Children 2

Jason Russell (born October 12, 1978)[1] is an American film and theater director, choreographer, and activist who co-founded Invisible Children, Inc.[2] He is the director of Kony 2012, a short documentary film that went viral in the beginning of March 2012. In the first two weeks it gained more than 83 million views on YouTube[3] and became the subject of media scrutiny and criticism.[4][5] Its subject is the Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, his alleged war crimes, and the movement to bring him to the International Criminal Court.

Early life and education[edit]

Russell is the younger son of Sheryl and Paul Russell, co-founders of Christian Youth Theater, which Russell was part of as a child.[6][7][8] Russell discussed acting in an interview when he was 13 years old: "That was my life. It was what everybody around me did. I didn't even think about it. I did my first show at 8, and I have done over 20 plays since. You can't do this if you don't like it. You have to commit yourself to it."[8]

Russell graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.[9]


Russell, with Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole, created the Invisible Children organization in 2003 after they "traveled to Uganda and witnessed children camping out in the city of Gulu to avoid being kidnapped into the militia in their villages."[10] With camera equipment obtained from eBay, they went to Africa as student filmmakers but had no plan for the focus of their intended documentary.[11][12] According to Russell, the trip was inspired by the 1993 death of Dan Eldon, who had been beaten to death while trying to document the ongoing famine in Somalia.[13]

After Russell's group reached the Sudan their caravan was attacked by the Lord's Resistance Army, forcing a retreat to Northern Uganda.[14] In Gulu, Russell and the others interviewed and videotaped children who had to commute to the city every night to elude raids by the LRA on their home villages in Acholiland.[11] During filming, the three men contracted malaria, but omitted covering their illness so that the documentary would remain focused on the children.[15] The footage they shot resulted in the original Invisible Children documentary draft, which was first screened in June 2004.[14]

Russell and others returned to Uganda for six months in 2005 to collect more interviews and documentation for the next Invisible Children documentary.[16] In 2006, after the Washington D.C. screening of Russell and Poole's rough cut, the U.S. Congress approved discussion of the plight of the Acholi before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.[17] The 2006 Invisible Children: Rough Cut also won Russell, Bailey, and Poole the Pioneering Spirit Award at the 2007 Heartland Film Festival.[18]

With his wife Danica Jones and Jon M. Chu, Russell co-wrote a musical, Moxie, which the team sold to Steven Spielberg.[19]

Legal issues[edit]

On March 15, 2012, at the height of the Kony 2012 video's viral popularity, San Diego police detained a naked Russell for psychiatric evaluation during a public breakdown that was filmed and released online.[20]

Personal life[edit]

On October 23, 2004, he married Danica Jones in La Jolla, California.[21] They have two children.[22]

Russell was hospitalized for several weeks. A statement by his family said the diagnosis was "brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration," as a result of the popularity of the campaign. The Hollywood Reporter described it as an "out of body experience".[23][24][25]


Films Release
Roseline: The Story of an AIDS Victim 2008
Together We Are Free 2009
The Rescue 2009
Tony 2010
Kony 2012 2012
Move 2012


  1. ^ California birth index
  2. ^ "Jason Russell". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  3. ^ "'Kony 2012′ Creator's Breakdown Highlights Stress of Criticism". abcnews.go.com. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  4. ^ Watts, Lindsay (March 9, 2012). "Kony 2012 Highlights Importance Of Researching Charities". KRDO NewsChannel 13.
  5. ^ "Wife blames exhaustion for 'irrational' behavior by 'Kony 2012' filmmaker". NBC News. March 16, 2012. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012.
  6. ^   (March 16, 2012). "Jason Russell: Neighbors tried to calm him as he acted 'bizarre' – latimes.com". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. p. m. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  7. ^ "CCT". CYT San Diego. 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  8. ^ a b Launer, Pat (1992-03-12). "So You Want to Be A Star, Kid? : Theaters That Get Kids Into the Act – Page 2 – Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  9. ^ "Jason Russell". invisiblechildren.com. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  10. ^ Mark Roth (April 26, 2009). "Uganda kidnappings target of Oakland march; Over 400 help the 'Invisible Children'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Tricia Friesen (October 30, 2009). "'Displace Me' event hosted to raise awareness of displacement camps". The Washburn Review. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
  12. ^ Ioana Patringenaru (August 17, 2009). "Saving the 'Invisible Children'". UC San Diego. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
  13. ^ Emily Lowell (February 21, 2005). "Film aims to shine light on the abducted children of Uganda". Redlands Daily Facts. Retrieved August 18, 2012.(subscription required)
  14. ^ a b Scott R. Caseley (February 1, 2007). "Children at War". New England Film. Archived from the original on November 23, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
  15. ^ Sally Deneen (February 1, 2009). "Reaching around the world: a youthful odyssey turns into a grassroots movement helping young victims of war-torn Africa". SUCCESS. Retrieved August 18, 2012. (subscription required)
  16. ^ Jenny Brown (October 2005). "Young Christian film team documents war-zone children". Christian Examiner. Archived from the original on March 17, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
  17. ^ Susan Ellis Washington (March 8, 2006). "State Dept: Crisis of abducted Ugandan children shown in documentary". US Federal News. Retrieved August 18, 2012. (subscription required)
  18. ^ "Film Festival Concludes With 22,000 Attendees". Inside Indiana Business. October 30, 2007. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
  19. ^ Nicole Urso, "Dance Fever", Los Angeles Magazine, December 2003, page 94-100
  20. ^ "WATCH: Co-Founder Of Invisible Children, 'Kony 2012' Creator, Has Alleged Naked Meltdown". Huffington Post. March 16, 2012.
  21. ^ "Theatrics put this duo in the spotlight – The San Diego Union-Tribune". Utsandiego.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  22. ^ Orden, Erica (2011-10-18). "'Kony 2012' Director Jason Russell Detained After 'Meltdown' - Speakeasy – WSJ". Blogs.wsj.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  23. ^ "'Kony 2012' director suffered 'reactive psychosis,' family says". CNN.com. March 21, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  24. ^ "Kony's Jason Russell tells Oprah: 'That wasn't me'". USA Today.
  25. ^ "'Kony 2012' Creator Jason Russell Addresses Nude Breakdown on 'Oprah's Next Chapter' (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. October 8, 2012.

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