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If Tom Hanks is ‘America's Dad,’ who would be its ‘Cool Uncle’?

One actor clearly won the debate.

tom hanks, america's uncle, snoop dogg

"Weird Al" Yankovic, Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dogg

Tom Hanks’ wholesome, relatable and reassuring on-screen presence has been said by many to have fatherlike qualities. Over the years, Hanks’ portrayal of genuine, honest characters in films such as “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Cast Away” has etched him into the heart of many Americans, earning him the endearing title "America's Dad."

Further, Hanks’ off-screen personality closely tracks many of his “everyman” characters, solidifying his reputation as a father figure. And the fact that he’s maintained this reputation in the cutthroat world of Hollywood is a true feat, given the number of years he’s been in the limelight.

So, if Tom Hanks is “America’s Dad,” who in popular culture could take the role of “America’s Cool Uncle”? You know, the guy who gives you your first sip of beer, introduces you to great music and has conversations with you that dad was too embarrassed to discuss.



A Reddit user named Galactic Splurge posed the question to the AskReddit subforum, and over 6,500 people chimed in with their thoughts. “If Tom Hanks is America’s Dad, who would be America’s cool Uncle?” they asked.

So, to determine the winner of the great uncle debate, I looked at the number of upvotes each suggestion received and then ranked the top 15. It’s not the most scientific way of doing things, but it gives us a pretty good idea about who people think should win the award.

The funny thing is that the results weren't even close. Actor and musician Jack Black had around five times the number of upvotes over second place. Who else made the list? Here are the top 15 most popular responses for who should be America’s favorite “Cool Uncle.”

1. Jack Black

"This is the only correct answer." — _HuntressWizard

​2. Matthew McConaughey

"Like... Uncle Matt is DEFINITELY the guy to set up a bonfire for you when you're 16." — pm_me_your_clippings

3. Jeff Bridges

"That’s just like, your opinion, man." — Downvote4grammar

4. Robin Williams

"He is the fun uncle that you have sweet memories of as a child and teenager but then passed away. But every time someone brings them up, it’s never sad, it’s just 'remember when Uncle Robin used to….' and everyone laughs and smiles." — Sandvich48

5. Danny DeVito

"I was just going to say no he’s more like Nana's new friend we just call Uncle Danny," — sew_u_thnk_ur_a_hero

6. "Weird Al" Yankovic

"'Weird Al' is your mom’s wacky cousin who makes every party a good time." — KiribakuFriend

7. John Candy

"The good uncle who passes when you were little, John Candy." — itsearlyyet

​8. Snoop Dogg

"The uncle that you go on walks with during family get-togethers, same come back all bleary-eyed." — Bonnedraco

9. Keanu Reeves

"Rides motorcycles, plays with weapons, knows martial arts, is humble and genuinely kind. Definitely the cool uncle." — Phil_MyNuts

10. Bill Murray

"He's the uncle who seems really cool when you're a kid but once you're an adult, you realize that he's a drunk and there's a reason why he keeps getting remarried and divorced." — Yellow_Vespa_Is_Black

11. Paul Rudd

"I still feel like Paul Rudd is the corny friend you’ve known since childhood and comes up with weird nicknames like Jobin or City Slicka." — Sandvich48

12. Dave Grohl

"I was watching Dave Grohl interviews one day, my son was 10 at the time and I didn't realize he was paying attention to the TV. He asked me later that day, 'Can we please watch 'the nice man' again?' Dave is forever known as 'The Nice Man' in my house." — Background_Ad5873

13. Woody Harrelson

"I had a dream that he married my aunt and bought me a Nintendo during his ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ era. I’ve called him Uncle Woody ever since. This is the only answer." — DJTrpTrp59

14. Jeff Goldblum

"A lot of the other options here are 'goofy silly uncle who lives one suburb over.' Goldblum is more 'cool uncle who lives in the city and used to hang with rock stars.'" — Pylo_The_Pylon

​15. Danny Trejo

"He's the uncle that everyone thinks is intimidating as hell and maybe a gun-runner or something, but it turns out he runs a soup kitchen and reads to kids in the hospital." — Geminii27

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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