Cameron Boyce Said He Hoped to Lead by Example on 'What It Means to Give Back' in Interview
The 20-year-old actor was heavily involved with the non-profit Thirst Project
Boyce, a Disney Channel star who rose to fame in the Descendants films and on the TV show Jessie, spoke to Haute Living in May, just two months before he died of a seizure brought on by an “ongoing medical condition,” according to his family.
In his interview, the star credited his family for providing him with a blueprint as to how he could give back, and what he could accomplish in doing so.
“There’s a long line of difference makers in my family. I’m following in the footsteps of some really strong men and women who have showed me what it means to give back; it’s the greatest way to fulfill yourself,” he said.
“Every time I talk to someone who shares that similar passion, we talk about how there aren’t many feelings more euphoric. Changing someone else’s life positively changes yours for the better as well,” he added.
Boyce was honored in April with the Pioneering Spirit Award at the 9th Annual Thirst Gala. He has raised more than $30,000 for the Thirst Project, which raises awareness about the global water crisis, to help build two wells in Swaziland.
Boyce also spoke of how he hoped his giving back would inspire others to do the same, and offer guidance as to how they can get involved.
“Many people have the heart to give back, but a lot don’t know how to. I try to be the bridge for those people – whether that means getting them involved in one of my campaigns or inspiring them by showing them a blueprint of how to get others engaged,” he said.
Boyce, who was African American and Jewish, also spoke to how his family ancestry shaped him as a person, including his grandmother Jo Ann Boyce.
Jo Ann was a member of the Clinton 12, a group of Tennessee students who were the first to desegregate a state-supported high school in the south in 1956.
“I have plenty of ancestors and family members that I can look to for strength, and more importantly, for a grateful outlook on life,” he said. “Every one of them clawed and scratched for my sister and I to be in the position we’re in today.”
Boyce’s charitable streak was remembered by the Thirst Project on Twitter in a statement.
The non-profit shared a tribute to the actor in light of his death, writing, “We are at loss for words and a bit shaken up from the news of the unfortunate and untimely passing of our dear friend,” the statement read. “Cameron was such an amazing light to many and also did so much for Thirst Project. He was always looking to help others and in his #ThirstGala speech, he explained it perfectly. With his time here, he certainly left something bigger than himself and we are SO honored to have been a part of his life and to have been able to change the world together. As we remember him, let’s all do our part to use what we have and leave something bigger than ourselves.”
Boyce’s family announced his passing in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“The world is now undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights, but his spirit will live on through the kindness and compassion of all who knew and loved him,” a family spokesperson said. “We are utterly heartbroken and ask for privacy during this immensely difficult time as we grieve the loss of our precious son and brother.”