She has been called “nature’s spokesperson” and a “deep sea diva” – both well-deserved titles that Céline Cousteau has earned through both her land and sea adventures.
“I’ve always had a hard time defining me,” said Cousteau, daughter of ocean explorer and filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau and the granddaughter of the late Jacques Cousteau – perhaps the most famous undersea explorer ever. “I’m involved with not just nature but also humanity. Wherever there are any kind of environmental challenges, there are people who are suffering from them and people who are looking for solutions. What I’m hoping to do is be a spokesperson to them as well and bring those spirits to light.”
In May, Cousteau, 38, served as the keynote speaker at the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches’ annual Women in Leadership Awards at the Kravis Center, where she delivered her message of the importance of connecting humans with the environment.
It’s natural to assume that Cousteau’s primary influences were her grandfather and father, but she was also quick to credit her mother, who was an expedition photographer, and her grandmother, who was always on the boat.
Although these exciting experiences were a natural part of her childhood, she pursued something completely different upon graduation from high school. Cousteau studied psychology as an undergraduate and intercultural relations as a graduate student.
“But then I came back to what my family had been doing, but with my own influence and own experiences. It has always been a part of me,” she said, “I always felt I was part of the greater whole of what nature and this planet is about, which translated later on in life as an adult to perform what I’m doing now. Never underestimate what a child sees when they grow up because you don’t know how that will be integrated into their life and what they’re gonna do with it.”
Her explorations as field producer, on-camera presenter and photographer on numerous television documentaries have taken her around the world. She noted her adventure into the Amazon as one of the highlights.
“I first went down as a child and returned to do a two-hour documentary with my father and brother,” said Cousteau. “I was impacted by the people’s stories there … the indigenous populations, their relationships with the environment and the destruction of the Amazon, and how it impacts people who live within it. It’s something that I’ve taken close to my heart and continue to work on.”
This led to her creating a video telling the story of the Amazon Promise, a US-based nonprofit organization founded to provide desperately needed medical care to remote populations living in the Upper Amazon Basin of northeastern Peru.
“I was interested in looking at human health, the relationship with the environment and I wanted to explore more.”