Virtual tours, reading, board games, and mass amounts of streaming aside, social media is one of the main crutches we’re leaning on to get us through our time inside – and by offering concerts, readings, or kitchen advice, these famous folks are making the hours pass just a wee bit easier.
Here are a few favorites to follow, for distraction, education, entertainment, and more.
1. Chrissy Teigen
Whether she’s poking fun at husband John Legend, posting very cute videos of their very cute children, or messing around with recipes for her super-popular cookbooks, Chrissy Teigen is a good follow on Twitter and Instagram any time – but now, her brand of good-humored cool is a jolt of fresh air at a time when such things are in short supply. So far, she’s joked about spending money on billboards that “no one will see”, paid tribute to her implants’ tenth anniversary, released both a quarantine playlist and a set of kitchen-related gifs, and – most notable for home cooks – offered to make custom recipes based on photos of fans’ pantries or fridges, begging, “Please. Please. I’m so bored.” Stars: They really are just like us.
2. Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Stewart may be best known for his portrayals of Captain Picard and Professor Xavier, but nowadays the classically-trained actor is getting back in touch with his Shakespearean roots, reading one sonnet a day to tens of thousands of viewers on his IGTV feed. In between poetry readings, you’ll see clips from his film and TV projects, pics of his beloved pit bulls (he has an affinity for the breed, and works with a rescue group that finds homes for dogs from high-kill shelters), snaps from red-carpet reunions with high-profile friends (hi there, Ian McKellen), and peeks of his life with his wife, singer and songwriter Sunny Ozell.
The co-founder and drummer of the Roots gets plenty of screen time as Jimmy Fallon’s bandleader on the Tonight Show, but with the late-night host serving up his on-air content from home, Questlove is doing his best to fill the void with a nightly dance party benefiting a coronavirus-related causes. Kicking off on multiple platforms (Instagram Live, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Periscope) at various times each evening, his sets run the gamut from hip-hop and R&B to dancehall and reggae, with special guests like Common and Annabella Sciora popping by to hang out. (And of that’s past your bedtime, he also co-hosts a kids’ story time every day with “joy strategist” Grace Harry.)
4. Patti Smith
Patti Smith’s music and writing are at once dream-like and down-to-earth, and her Instagram presence is much the same, filled with snapshots of her life both mundane (cups of black coffee from cafés around the world) and profound (musings on a visit to Uluru). An acclaimed visual artist, she knows her way around the grid, and everything she posts is poetic in nature, whether it’s a reading from a favorite author – Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Arthur Rimbaud – or a gallery of images from tour stops around the world (though these days, she’s obviously sticking closer to home). For lovers of books and coffee and unfettered exploration, there’s something incredibly soothing – and moving – in the care she takes with each passage she reads aloud...and the occasional Instagram Live performance doesn’t hurt either.
5. Ben Gibbard
As the stay-at-home orders started rolling in across the US, quite a few musicians and artists took their shows online, but Ben Gibbard showed more than a little commitment to the cause. For two weeks beginning in mid-March, you’d find him on YouTube each afternoon, live-streaming an acoustic show called Live From Home, direct from – you guessed it – his home studio. Kicking off the first show with the highly appropriate “We Will Become Silhouettes” (opening lyric: “I’ve got a cupboard with cans of food, filtered water, and pictures of you / and I’m not coming out until this is all over”) and fielding requests from enthusiastic fans, the frontman for Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service garnered thousands of views. He’s now switched over to a weekly schedule, with shows every Thursday at 6 pm PST.
Grammy-winning rap and R&B star Lizzo calls herself a bop star, and she’s not wrong, especially with anthems like “Juice” and “Tempo” backing her up. The twerking queen’s Instagram is a mix of glam shots for glossy magazines, snippets of studio time, outdoor workouts, and yes, lots of ass-shaking, but it also features videos and live broadcasts of the multi-talented artist on the flute, leading her 8.5 million fans in mass meditations. “We need healing from fear during this global crisis,” she wrote ahead of one of her sessions. “If you with me join me with a high vibration and any sanitizer you got. ❤️”
7. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is an American icon, not just for her contributions to the country-music pantheon but for her humanitarian work as well. As the founder of the Imagination Library, the East Tennessee native distributes free books – more than one million of them a month – to kids in five countries, a program inspired by her father’s illiteracy and a desire to get reading material into as many young hands as possible. A documentary about the initiative was slated for release this month, but in light of the pandemic, it’s been pushed back to September; in the meantime, the Book Lady is launching a YouTube series for kids and families called Goodnight with Dolly, in which she’ll read bedtime stories aloud once a week for the next ten weeks, starting 2 April at 7 pm EST.
8. José Andrés
Through his nonprofit organization World Central Kitchen, Nobel Peace Prize–nominated chef and activist José Andrés is spearheading a response to COVID-19 called #ChefsForAmerica, a visionary solution that aims feed the country’s most vulnerable populations via restaurants, simultaneously providing nourishment to the masses and relief to an industry that’s taken a massive financial hit as stay-at-home orders extend across the US. But he’s not just leading the charge. As he shelters in place with his family, he’s offering up #RecipesForThePeople on Instagram Live: simple meals and snacks that can be made with minimal effort and ingredients, like fried rice, lentil stew, and angel hair pasta with tomato sauce.
9. Debbie Allen
When the legendary Debbie Allen offered her inaugural dance class on Instagram Live, thousands tuned in to break a sweat – and their numbers have only grown as the weeks go by. In the past two weeks, she’s introduced salsa and tap, drawn out the little ones with an early birds jazz and ballet series, and posted the odd throwback pic as well. But not to worry if you can’t catch the show live – she’s mastered the art of the recap, and posts each session to her grid after it’s wrapped. “All are welcome,” she tweeted before her first class. ”Spread the word. See you on the dance floor.”
If readings and acoustic shows are a little too mellow for your liking, may we suggest #MetallicaMondays? Every Monday at 5 pm PST/8 pm EDT, the rockers are airing a classic concert in full on their YouTube channel and Facebook page – completely free of charge, though the streams will run in tandem with fundraisers to relieve food insecurities and medical-supply shortages. “While we’re all doing our part and staying home, we find ourselves missing live music,” the band posted on their website. “Let’s stay connected and virtually visit a few of our favorite places in the world together as we bring a series of live Metallica shows right to your couch!”