A pre-World AIDS Day Q&A with multi-talented entertainer Neil Patrick Harris, who explains why he's giving fans the chance to join him for dinner in New York City while supporting an important cause.

Neil Patrick Harris is a man of many talents, but sitting still definitely isn’t one of them.

The actor/singer/magician/comedian contantly ping-pongs from project to project, charming audiences both onstage and on screen. Just last week, he showed off his crossover chops during the Shop-A-thon (RED) on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he joined a celebrity cast to raise money and awareness in support of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Video: Watch the Shop-A-thon (RED) on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Harris is teaming up with Coca-Cola and (RED) to offer fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience through the Omaze platform and raise awareness about the work being done on the ground in Africa to deliver an AIDS-free generation by virtually eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Enter the sweepstake now!

We caught up with him this week via phone from Walt Disney World in Florida – where he was enjoying a mini vacation with his family and narrating a musical presentation of the story of Christmas – to learn more about his involvement in this year’s World AIDS Day campaign.

How and why are you working with Coca-Cola and (RED) to raise awareness and keep up the life-saving fight against HIV/AIDS?

Coke and (RED) came to me and asked me to be a part of the Omaze programme this year, which I saw as a unique way to help raise money for an important cause. I think (RED) is doing amazing work all year long in all kinds of ways, and when I found out how involved Coke was on the ground in Africa, giving up one of my nights to help do some good was an easy decision.

Read about Harris' experience.

Speaking of your Omaze experience, what can you tell us about what the winner should expect? Why should your fans bid?

We thought a New York experience made the most sense. I’ve been involved with the theater for many years, and we love the city of Manhattan. My husband, David, and I will host a party of two in New York and put them up in a nice hotel. We’ll take them out to dinner at a fun restaurant we like and then go see a Broadway show. It’ll be a fun way to get some culture and support a great cause.

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The (RED) Omaze experiences sound pretty amazing. If you could bid on one (other than yours, of course), what would it be?

That’s a great question. I was fascinated with the opportunity to have high tea with Julia Roberts and Bono. It seems like a strange mix that would make for a delightful conversation. I’ve spent a little bit of time with Bono and know him to be the best storyteller I’ve ever sat across from at the dinner table. He’s authentic, passionate and poetic. I think it would be amazing to hear them tell stories over finger sandwiches!

Take a look at some of the available (RED) Omaze experiences.

The Kimmel Shop-A-Thon (RED) looked like a ton of fun. You did a card trick with Kristen Stewart, tap-danced with Channing Tatum and sung with an ensemble choir. What was the experience like?

The majority of that happpened last minute. I was going to come on the show and talk about the Omaze opportunity, and then I was asked to do a magic trick, sing songs and do a tap-dance number. But when it’s Mr. Kimmel, it’s hard to say no. I knew I’d be in good hands, and now I have a few more things I can check off my bucket list.

'We’re now at a tiping point in the fight – no babies born HIV positive can become a reality. I’m honored to help carry the torch and hopefully help us get to the finish line.'


You’ve been a strong advocate for the fight against HIV/AIDS for years. Why are you so passionate about this cause, and what progress have you seen in recent years?

I’m part of the generation that didn’t necessarily live through the hardest time of HIV/AIDS, but were bystanders who observed those who did. It puts me in an interesting position, because we’re now at a tiping point in the fight – no babies born HIV positive can become a reality. I’m honored to help carry the torch and hopefully help us get to the finish line.

Indeed, we’re getting very close to delivering an AIDS-free generation… and hopefully we’ll be even closer after this year’s (RED) campaign. As a father, what hope does that give to you and your family?

The idea of being HIV positive 20 or 30 years ago was a potential life sentence. It required a lot of medicine and the financial freedom to afford treatment. That’s no longer the case, but it’s something the younger generation needs to be aware of. Just because you can now take one pill to combat HIV/AIDS and prevent mother-to-child transmission doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be protecting yourself and making smart decisions. My job as a parent is to be an educator and an enforcer, as well as a friend. I want to make sure my children are able to live in a world where they don’t have to worry about things like this.

You’ve acted on Broadway, on TV and in film, and hosted major awards shows. Do you have a favorite medium to work in, or do you most enjoy your role as an entertainment chameleon?

I’m very appreciative of being able to dabble in many different ponds. I don’t know whether that’s because I enjoy conquering tasks or whether I have a short attention span. But to do one single thing over and over, I feel I’d probably get a bit bored. So for me, getting the chance to do new, exciting adventures with new skillsets is the greatest job in the world. It would be fun to direct more, to be in more big movies, and to have a larger role in projects than just a character within a scene or in a script. But if I were doing any of those things now I wouldn’t be able to hang out with my family at a theme park.

Speaking of your family, as one of the busiest men in show business, how do you balance your time with work and family?

I think it starts with being aware that you need (balance). It’s the constant conversation of “Do we do this, or do we refrain?” Weighing pros and cons. I don’t want to do everying because then I wouldn’t be able to see my family as much. But I don’t want to do nothing because, like I said, it’s an incredibly fun job. It’s about being as inclusive as possible and making choices that help you manage your time effectively.

What’s next for you? Any current or upcoming projects? 

I’m in an Alexander Payne movie with Matt Damon called Downsizing, which comes out in a year or so. Alexander is an awesome director, so I was really excited to work with him. Right now I’m working most of time on the Netflix series, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which drops in January. If you thought I was working hard, wait ‘til you see this! I’m pretty proud of it.

Coca-Cola, (RED) and Project Last Mile

In December 2011, The Coca-Cola Company announced a multi-year partnership with (RED) to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund to help deliver an AIDS-Free Generation with an initial commitment of more than $5 million to fund awareness building campaigns through global Coca-Cola marketing initiatives. In 2014, Coke boosted its commitment with an additional $2 million of support to The Global Fund. And earlier this year, the company pledged of $15 million to remain in the fight to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV through 2018.

Through Project Last Mile, the Coca-Cola system is teaching organisations and governments about effective distribution channels so they can supply hard to reach communities with critical medications and medical supplies. Project Last Mile, launched in 2010, is a collaboration between The Coca-Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, The Global Fund, USAID and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.