Over the past few years, students and workers across the United States (and the world) have heard the battle cry to learn code. With over 120,000 open technology jobs in the U.S. alone, skilled professionals are needed to take businesses and technology to the next level. Some organizations, such as Code.org, have begun enlisting celebrities to learn code—using their influence to encourage others, particularly minorities in tech, to follow their lead.
While some celebs have unexpected backgrounds in technology, others are learning code for the first time. The range of individuals advocating for diversity in computing spans industries and age brackets—and some of them might surprise you.
1. Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh is a basketball player on the Miami Heat and an NBA champion. Bosh grew up in a tech-savvy household and understood the importance of technology from a young age. In high school he was a member of Wizkids, a computer graphics club, the Association of Minority Engineers, and NSBE (the National Society of Black Engineers). He began writing computer code in college at Georgia Tech but after his breakout performance on the university basketball team, he entered the NBA before finishing his degree. Programming is still very important to Bosh and he is a supporter and advocate for the non-profit “code.org”, which works to increase computer literacy in schools.
Will.i.am is both the Grammy Award winning front man of the Black Eyed Peas and a coding student. He was always interested in design and technology, publicly stating, ”I’m sitting with people and I just have these ideas, and the translation of the ideas versus being able to do it, I just want to be able to do it. I want to code and execute what’s in my head, and maybe it’ll take eight years, but I’ll still be pretty young in eight years, so I want to start now.” Will.i.am did in fact follow up on this proclamation. He began talking classes and also became advocate, along with Chris Bosh, for the non-profit “code.org”.
3. Jimmy Fallon
While not a vocal advocate for tech, Tonight Show host and SNL alum Jimmy Fallon studied computer science at Albany’s College of Saint Rose but ultimately dropped out of school before finishing in order to pursue a career in comedy. While Fallon’s dream was always to work at SNL, he did think about following in his father’s footsteps and considered working at IBM.
4. Justine Bateman
Emmy-nominated actress and sister of actor Jason Bateman, Justine Bateman recently enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles and is studying digital management and computer science. Her classes included topics from Java to C++. The career-pivot was not always easy for Bateman who told Fast Company, “With computer science, I had to go through that uncomfortable process of my brain establishing a hash table, if you will—the coders will get that—for this new information, because I didn’t have one.” The actress is expected to graduate next year and hopes to pursue a career within the industry or even start her own technology company.
5. Karlie Kloss
American fashion model and former Victoria’s Secret Angel, Karlie Kloss likes to write computer code when she is not dominating the catwalk. Kloss is extremely passionate about programming and even posts videos of her coding projects on Instagram. One of the more notable videos features the model programming a drone to fly. She believes learning to code is extremely important, especially for women, which led her to create a scholarship for young girls interested in learning code. Kloss told Buzzfeed, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a fashion model or high school student, understanding code is so important because it’s the language that runs our world!”
6. Ashton Kutcher
Actor, producer, and technology investor, Ashton Kutcher’s career goes well beyond That 70s Show. Kutcher studied Biochemical Engineering in school where he first learned to code. Besides playing Steven Jobs on the big screen, Kutcher has worked with technology off screen, investing in companies like Airbnb, Spotify, Foursquare, and Uber. He is also an ambassador for the Hour of Code, an organization working to introduce computer science to students all over the world.
While the skills and interests of these celebrities range vastly, one thing is clear, almost anyone can learn to code if they are patient, hard-working, and dedicated.