Broad Cinema: Dolly Parton, A Songbird With A Penchant For Charity

She sings from 9 to 5, then gets a million children books to read. Like you do.

From Alice Guy-Blaché to Ava Duvernay, women have been integral to cinema for the last 120 years. Broad Cinema is a new column that will feature women who worked on films that are playing this month at the Alamo Drafthouse. From movie stars to directors, from cinematographers to key grips, Broad Cinema will shine a spotlight on women in every level of motion picture production throughout history.

This week we are honoring Dolly Parton, whose 9 to 5 is playing this month at the Alamo Drafthouse. Get your tickets here!


Dolly Parton has been a strong advocate for charities from the beginning of her prestigious career. While she has a special place in her heart for those focusing around literacy, she has championed many other causes in her day, and has even gone so far as to create a few of her own. After growing up as what she would describe as “dirt poor”, Parton felt an obligation to start giving back once she became successful. 

After opening her Dollywood theme park in 1986, Parton decided to create the Dollywood Foundation to go along with it. The foundation has grown and evolved since its creation in 1988, but has always focused heavily on the community around it. Starting off by giving scholarships to high school students, it eventually grew into the Imagination Library, and is currently the My People Fund. 

The mission changed a bit when the foundation grew into Imagination Library, but still focused on the education of the youth in the community around Dollywood. Instead of focusing on scholarships, they foundation leaned more heavily on literacy. Every kidlet in Sevier County, Tennessee was eligible to get a free book each month until they were five. After seeing such a huge response to the project, Dolly chose to expand. She announced that she’d make it available to any community willing to partner with her, and cities came out of the woodwork to be a part of the program. Since that announcement the project has expanded to 1600 communities across the world. About a million children a month receive books from this program. Such a simple concept has done wonders for literacy of the children in the communities the Imagination Library helps. 

After the huge success of the Dollywood Foundation and Imagination Library, Dolly was confident that she could do something to help the victims of the Great Smoky Mountains Wildfires. In 2016, these fires ripped through the county she grew up in, killing fourteen people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses in the area. With that in mind, she reached out to the companies that Dollywood was comprised of and set out to do some good. With Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure, The Dollywood Company, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, and Pirates Voyage all along for the ride, she was able to create the My People Fund. The fund has pledged to donate $1000 each month for six months to the Sevier County families who lost their homes in the fires. Like any charity, the fund accepts donations from both companies and citizens. Many brands stepped forward to help keep the funds flowing for those affected by the fires, including Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation, Verizon, Tanger Outlets and many more. 

Dolly Parton is a songbird that can show anyone the ins and outs of the business. She puts her heart into everything she does, which is likely a huge part of her success both in music and in her charitable endeavors. The singer, songwriter, actress, hall-of-famer has done a ridiculous amount in her prestigious career, but helping a million kids a month while supporting those who have lost everything has to go up near the top of her list of amazing achievements. 


Buy your tickets here!