The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation will support advocacy event AIDSWatch 2019 in Washington, D.C. starting Monday

By Dana Rose Falcone
April 01, 2019 08:00 AM
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amfAR and the Diamond Information Center Honor Dame Elizabeth Taylor with the First-Ever Diamond Icon Award
Credit: J. Vespa/WireImage

Elizabeth Taylor defined classic Hollywood with Oscar-winning performances in Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. But the actress found her true passion in advocating for HIV/AIDS.

“She spoke of it as being something that finally gave her a sense of purpose,” Taylor’s granddaughter Naomi deLuce Wilding tells PEOPLE. “She spoke of being relatively ambivalent about her fame and her acting career. She loved it, but when she found activism, it really made sense of her passion.”

On Monday, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation will support AIDSWatch 2019, marking the organization’s fifth year as a partner with AIDS United for the two-day advocacy event in Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth Taylor
Taylor.
| Credit: Marion Curtis/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

“It’s one of the most beneficial things that we as a family for ETAF have done,” says deLuce Wilding, who will attend the AIDSWatch with her sister Laela Wilding and cousin Quinn Tivey, an officer of the foundation. “It keeps us involved. It makes us also feel like we’re part of a community, which is really important to us.”

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Taylor’s grandchildren and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Ambassadors will lobby Congress to hold the presidential administration accountable to its goal to end the epidemic by 2030. The late star went to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the cause in 1986, 1990 and 1992, and would still be fighting today, according to her granddaughter.

“She always said her plan was not to die until there was a cure for AIDS,” deLuce Wilding, 43, says.

SAG-AFTRA and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation’s World AIDS Day Panel, Los Angeles, USA - 30 Nov 2016
Taylor’s granddaughter deLuce Wilding.
| Credit: Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Taylor died in 2011 following hospitalization for congestive heart failure, but her legacy lives on through the work her family and foundation do to advocate for HIV/AIDS. While a celebrity taking a stand proved to be a rarity in the ‘80s, Taylor’s trip to Capitol Hill paved the way for stars to align with causes today.

“She was one of the first celebrities to get up and not only do things like start a foundation, but to be so outspoken,” deLuce Wilding says. “She had a role in creating that expectation that we have now for celebrities to a certain extent. I think she’d be proud of herself.”