Natalie Portman has been announced as the 2018 Genesis Prize Laureate.

The acclaimed actress and director will receive the $1million award, which honors extraordinary individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement, commitment to Jewish values and to the Jewish people.

The Oscar-winning actress who began her acting career at the age of 12, was born in Israel and moved to the US as a child.

In 2015, she directed and starred in A Tale of Love and Darkness, a Hebrew-language film based on the novel by Israeli writer Amos Oz.

Portman is noted for her social activism in such areas as gender equality, combatting poverty, microfinance, and animal rights.

She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she returned to deliver a commencement speech in May 2015.

Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation said: “Natalie’s charismatic on-screen presence has touched the hearts of millions. Her talent, her commitment to social causes and her deep connection to her Jewish and Israeli roots are greatly admired.

“She exemplifies the core traits of the Jewish character and values of the Jewish people – persistence and hard work, pursuit of excellence, intellectual curiosity, and a heartfelt desire to contribute to making the world a better place.

“Without a doubt, she is a role model for millions of young Jews around the world.”

In keeping with the tradition established by previous Genesis Prize Laureates, the $1m award money will be granted to philanthropic programs focusing on advancing women’s equality, including projects in Israel.

Chairman of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee, Natan Sharansky described Portman as “an exemplary Genesis Prize Laureate.”

Natalie Portman said: “I am deeply touched and humbled by this honor. I am proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage; they are crucial parts of who I am.

“It is such a privilege to be counted among the outstanding Laureates whom I admire so much. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Genesis Prize Foundation, and look forward to using the global platform it provides to make a difference in the lives of women in Israel and beyond.”

Previous laureates include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor and peace activist Michael Douglas, virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman and sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor (2017).

Natalie Portman will be honored at the Genesis Prize Ceremony in Jerusalem in June 2018.