Evanna Lynch.

April 2020

Actress and activist Evanna Lynch shares with us though an inspiring, pure and honest interview, her values and vision about veganism,  being an activist, human consciousness, her inspirations and expression resources. We hope you can get inspired the same way we did. 

Photo by Toby Shaw,

@tobyshawphoto

It’s admiring and gratifying the power and sense of activism you have. When and what made you decide to focus your voice into that way and how do you feel being able to reach to so many people with your values? 

 

To be quite honest, I didn’t know what that word ‘activism’ meant when I started posting about animal rights and welfare campaigns. It was just something that broke my heart, knowing there were animals suffering terrible brutality in the dark. When I read about the reality of factory farms and slaughterhouses I felt like I’d entered a dystopian society, it truly felt surreal to be doing enjoyable things like reading books and lazing in a park when all over the world there were innocent animals living in a real-life hell. The only way to handle that disillusionment was to try and do something about it by telling other people what’s happening and by sharing a vegan lifestyle with them.

"I'm optimistic about human nature, I know we can do better".

I think people often see activists, particularly animal activists as self-righteous, misanthropic individuals who keep an unnatural focus on the dark qualities of human nature but really it’s the opposite. I speak out for animal rights because I’m a very joyful, hopeful person and I want to pursue and promote joy always. I’m optimistic about human nature, I know we can do better. I feel that living by practices of non-violence is the most joyful and connected way to live and I just wish more people knew how great it can be. I also know it can be hard to transition to a vegan lifestyle because our society has normalised carnism (aka the opposite of veganism) and you have to undo all this social conditioning that convinces you we need to eat animals, so I empathise with anyone who struggles at first, as I did. But I feel so much more at peace with the person I am by not consuming or using animal products and I want to pass this knowledge and these habits on.

That said, I don’t want to lose my identity to veganism and I see a lot of traumatised activists who can’t stop thinking about animal abuse, who can’t enjoy their own lives. I don’t really see the point of doing activism if you can’t enjoy the beauty and magic humanity possesses too, if you don’t espouse the wonderful things about people in your activism too. So my activism is a kind I like to call ‘attractivism’. It’s about inspiring people to change rather than shaming them for their bad habits. It’s anti-shame and anti-guilt and it’s about empowering people with information and supporting them to make more compassionate choices.

 

As for being able to reach people, I feel really grateful that people listen to me, because having a lot of followers online was kind of an accident, it was just there one day and I had to be more mindful of my words. I try not to pander to my following and just focus on speaking my truth but I’m really grateful that there are people listening and also people challenging me to refine the words I use for the things I believe in.

"I don't really see the point of doing activism if you can't enjoy the beauty and magic humanity possesses too".

"So I always do my activism from a place of believing that if people really sat with what happened to animals, and could be shown an easy and inspiring way to live a vegan life, they would be opened to that".

When did you start to ask yourself about veganism and which facts made you have this consciousness about becoming a vegan? 

 

I think most people are vegan at heart. I know that’s a bold and what some may think as, naive statement, but I believe most people are compassionate and want to do good, heroic things. Most people I encounter agree that what we do to animals is abhorrent, and they wish it didn’t happen, but it’s only when you come to discussing their personal habits and cultural identity that they get defensive and say veganism is too extreme. But I believe carnism is only culturally acceptable because we are all kept in the dark from the true brutality of animal agriculture and by the time we really know what’s happening we’re disconnected from our feelings around the subject.

 

In essence, we’re brainwashed to think this level of brutality is fine and that animals don’t really hurt or feel as much as we do. So I always do my activism from a place of believing that if people really sat with what happened to animals, and could be shown an easy and inspiring way to live a vegan life, they would be open to that. Too many people think it’s about deprivation, so no wonder they avoid it.

As for me, I was already vegetarian from a young age because it was clear animals were suffering for meat. It was only when I was about 22 that I read the book Eating Animals and discovered there is just as much bloodshed and oppression of animals used for eggs, dairy, wool, etc and I knew I had to transition to veganism. It was certainly easier to read that book as a vegetarian because I was already halfway there so I understand why meat eaters are shut down to  veganism, it just seems too much to take in for them. But yeah, as I read that book I found I agreed with the vegan ideology completely. I knew I was vegan at heart and I just had to find a way to transition. It took me a couple years to go fully vegan however.

If you could transform yourself into vegan food or dish, which one would you be? 

 

On no level do I ever want to transform into anyone’s food! That’s precisely why I’m vegan, I can’t bear the fact that living sentient beings get eaten and it terrifies me to think that if Artificial Intelligence takes over or a more dominant alien species were to invade earth they would have every right to turn us into food given our treatment of the more vulnerable species on this planet. In the meantime I’ll be doing everything I can to convince others that animals are not food, and to stay well out of the way of any wild creature that looks at me as a food group.

"I think beauty is not celebrated enough for being both an act of self love and rebelion against conformity".

Photo by Toby Shaw,

@tobyshawphoto

“Beauty always brings me back”, you say that painting your face feels like colouring yourself back in with every stroke making you feel like “I’m here”. It’s a really interesting and beautiful connection you make between the act of colouring your face and how your mind and body reacts to that. Is that feeling what made you decide to create a vegan make-up brand? 

 

I think beauty is not celebrated enough for being both an act of self love and rebellion against conformity. So many people equate beauty with vanity, and vanity with superficiality, as though you are selfish or self-obsessed if you embrace and accentuate your beauty. I struggled with that idea a lot when I was younger because I wasn’t brought up in an environment that valued beauty. My family are teachers and intellectuals and saw indulgence in beauty as excessive and greedy. I felt so guilty for loving things like red lipstick and sparkly nail polish, things that were just aesthetically delightful and not intellectually worthy, I worried I was a selfish, vain, stupid person and so I think for a long time I looked down on unapologetically beautiful women and I tried to resist my fascination with them. But as I got older I began to see this disdain for and repression of beauty as a fear of femininity, a fear of women standing in their power, and as a smear campaign against femininity. I discovered people like Dolly Parton and Dita Von Teese who use makeup and beauty to transform themselves and to express their vision and imagination. That to me is SO empowering, that you can paint and colour yourself in to the image you have for your future self!

Evanna Lynch co-founded Kinder Beauty Box, a vegan and cruelty-free makeup, skincare, hair-care and accessories box monthly delivered.

"They trust us, and we betray them, I don't want to be one of the ones betraying these innocent, defenceless animals. There's a much better way to use the privilege of being human and I think it involves protecting animals".

And that thought ‘beauty brings me back’ came to me after a really gut wrenching rejection from an acting job and I was sitting around feeling sad and worthless. I think rejection is so horrible because it’s as if the other party is trying to negate your existence, they scrub you out of their lives and move on as if you never existed and when someone you like or admire does that to you it triggers the awful existential dread of ‘why am I even here?’. So I was sitting there at my makeup table feeling all scrubbed out by this thing I’d put my heart into and trying to summon the will to get ready and I had this impulse to use the very brightest eyeshadows and reddest lipstick and it honestly felt like I was reclaiming myself from oblivion. It felt like an act of defiance. By the time I’d finished my makeup I felt centred again. When it would be convenient for others for me to fade away and not exist, it’s an act of self love to use the boldest eye shadow and most outrageous eyelashes. It proclaims your unapologetic presence and your love for yourself in the face of others’ lovelessness. There are always days I want to be invisible, want to just be plain and all washed out, a fly on the wall, and I give myself those days too. But when I feel depressed or worthless makeup helps me resuscitate myself.

When and what fact made you have this high consciousness about protecting animals and giving voice for them? What was the impulse to start with this activism? 

 

Firstly, thank you for letting me speak extensively about protecting animals! I appreciate it’s uncomfortable and a lot of us want to shut our ears to it and I am grateful to anyone who opens their hearts and minds to animals.

As I said, it was the book Eating Animals that prompted me to look into what was happening to animals. I didn’t imagine it was as bad as it was and once I knew I didn’t feel like I could, in good conscience, love my cat or even watch a disney movie with a talking animal whilst simultaneously ignoring the plight of animals. Whenever I watch a movie like Babe or Charlotte’s Web or The Little Mermaid, I’m always on the side of the animals so it just felt like a betrayal of my self, my heart and the animals to continue consuming them.

To sum up why it upsets me so much, there’s a true story in a book I read called ‘Mainstreet Vegan’ about a cow who was bound for the slaughterhouse. She was terrified, resisting getting off the truck and being led into the slaughterhouse because she sensed danger. The farmer who had raised her and who was transporting her to the slaughterhouse put out his hand to calm her and encourage her forward. And the cow, knowing this familiar presence, this person who had fed her and protected her up til this point, stepped forward and walked ahead to her death. As Victoria Moran, the author, put it ‘they trust us, and we betray them’. I don’t want to be one of the ones betraying these innocent, defenceless animals. There’s a much better way to use the privilege of being human and I think it involves protecting animals.

If you could be an animal, which one would you be? 

 

I would be a cat or a hedgehog. I identify with cats because I like my alone-time and I love sleeping and grooming and sunlight. I also feel that cats have great instincts and are highly intuitive. They read energies very well and they are slow to trust and create new friendships, but when they do they are so loving and loyal. And I love how confident they are, that they don’t feel this urge to prove themselves or justify their existence. They hold their space and never apologise for existing. I take lessons in self love from cats, I find their attitude so empowering.

 

I don’t know a whole lot about hedgehogs, but they just seem cool and independent in their small, unassuming way. I used to follow them on walks sometimes and I loved how they took things at their own pace, how you couldn’t rush them. As soon as you try to speed up or hurry them along they just plant themselves on the spot, curl in a ball and wait til you back off again. And then they resume their very important mission at their own pace. I liked how determined and self possessed they were.

"Hearing spiritual teachers and authors speak helps train my mind to think optimistically".

What kind of podcasts inspire you to and what do you like the most about this way of communicating? 

 

At the moment, in lockdown, I mostly listen to wellness and spirituality podcasts because they help me keep a positive mindset and just hearing spiritual teachers and authors speak helps train my mind to think optimistically. There is a lot of anxiety in the collective consciousness at the moment and I’m trying not to pick that up. I think, because I live alone, the purpose of podcasts in my life is to keep me company and create a nice atmosphere, it’s not so much about absorbing tons of information.

 

My favourite ones at the moment are the You Can Heal Your Life podcast, Deliciously Ella and Authentic Sex with Juliet Allen. I find all those podcasts to be created by really high vibrational people who expand my mind. For a laugh and entertainment I love My Dad Wrote a Porno and Anna Faris Is Unqualified. When I’m in the mood to concentrate and take in obscure historical anecdotes, or if I miss Ireland, I love Blind Boy’s podcast. As for why I like them, I love that you can be really specific about what you’re obsessed with and you’ll find someone who has a podcast about it. If I turn on the radio I might find some music I like but my mind will also be flooded with things I’d rather not have heard. Podcasts give you an element of choice and control in what you’re filling your imagination with. You can find a whole community of people who like the same weird things you like and I just love tapping into those networks.

Evanna Lynch is a podcaster at

The Chickpeeps vegan podcast. 

"We explore and discuss the dilemmas faced by vegans in our quest to be more compassionate towards animals".

"I really believe that book can change people for the better".

Do you write? If so, what kind of writing you do and what does writing makes you feel?

 

Yes, I write mostly about my own mental health and obsessions. I do it to understand myself better. It’s funny, the things I love to read are usually smart, witty fiction and fairy tales and I find it annoying that my writing and subject matter is always firmly rooted in reality, but that seems to be the thing I need to talk and write about most so I’m letting that play out. But yes I mostly write about my demons because that’s the safest place to explore them. There’s a lot of ugliness in mental health, in the facets of your personality you encounter when you’re not at your best and writing is where I converse with those sides.

"When I'm in writing mode I don't feel the urge to talk and engage and prove myself to others". 

In terms of how it makes me feel, it makes me feel very still and humble. When I’m in writing mode I don’t feel the urge to talk and engage and prove myself to others. Social media feels like an alien planet if I open it up after I’ve been writing for an afternoon. I find writing is almost like praying, how some people talk about receiving messages from the universe when they sit and pray or meditate. Writing is the place I find true stillness and where I find am able to fully stop and listen. I ought to do it more.

What kind of books inspire you and if you could transform yourself into a book, which one would you be? 

 

I love literature that’s funny and poetic. I flit between reading novels, fantasy series, memoirs, spirituality books and vegan books. I often read one of each category at a time because I have commitment issues when it comes to books. My favourite authors are Vladimir Nabokov, Joe Dunthorne and J.K.Rowling. Whenever I read their work I feel like I should quit reading anyone else because they’re just masters of language and they leave me in awe. However, when I read them too much it paralyses me as a writer because it seems impossible to write like that and then I get overwhelmed by all the superior ways I could phrase things. So I mix it up with lighter memoirs and novels.

 

If I were to be a book…hmm, hard to pick. My favourite books, the ones I read over and over, are always a tad disturbing and sad so I won’t say one of those. I would probably say Creative Visualisation by Shakti Gawain because that book had the most profoundly positive impact on my life. I really believe that book can change people for the better. It’s my favourite spiritual book.

What’s your biggest resource of self expression?

 

Probably writing. I’m not very good at conversation and banter. In fact it stresses me out so much to have to talk to people live that I need whole weekends to recover. I wish I were better at it because I love connecting with people and I’m enthralled by witty people like comedians and presenters, who can make jokes in the moment. But unfortunately I think too much to be good at conversation and I always think of better things to say later on. But thinking a lot really engenders itself to writing, because what is writing but a conversation that you’ve thought heavily about and reenacted in painstaking detail in your head. In writing I can organise my thoughts exactly as I wanted to express them. I also think not being a good conversationalist makes me desperate to be understood in other ways and so writing gives me that opportunity to find ways to articulate what I mean, the way I can’t in speech.

 

And then the other one would be dance, to express the things inside me I don’t even understand or can find words for. I do set a lot of store by thinking things through and intellectual reasoning but I’m also so aware my body stores deep emotions and desires and trauma that can’t be accessed in any other way than using your body. That’s what dance does for me.

"With film, every day is a process of discovery, of going deeper into your character and finessing moments and working til you find that elusive truth in the moment".

"With stage I feel a much greater sense of responsibility for and involvement in my character's journey and that's empowering".

Does acting in theater make you feel a bigger state of presence than doing it in film and TV?

Hmm, no I actually don’t think it does. I find it easier to access true, live moments in film and tv acting because it’s usually new material every day so your imagination is pedalling really fast trying to keep up, and coming up with new ideas. With stage, by the time you’re a few weeks in you’ve rehearsed the show to death and tried the scenes a hundred different ways in every type of mood, so the challenge is to keep feeding your imagination new things to try, or finding small new details between you and your costar. But I find the sheer number of times you do a stage show to be extremely challenging. With film, every day is a process of discovery, of going deeper into your character and finessing moments and working til you find that elusive truth in the moment. One director I used to work with said a take would ‘sing’ eventually when you got it, and then you’d ‘know’. It’s such delicate, nebulous work. Whereas on stage there isn’t that same obsession with finding a truthful moment, because the show has to go on whether the actor gets to the truth or not. 

But I would say with stage I feel a much greater sense of responsibility for and involvement in my character’s journey and that’s empowering. In film, the director is with you every step of the way, watching your performance in microscopic detail, it’s like the director is your character’s god. And it’s comforting to know your God is watching you, it’s a collaborative effort. Whereas with stage after press night the director is out of there and it’s just you and the other actors and, emotionally, you can put whatever you want into your character every night.  When I first started stage work I didn’t realise the director would leave after press night and I had a bit of a freakout knowing I was on my own. But then I accepted it and it was like ‘ah ok, I’m a grown up actor now who makes my own choices.’ So in that sense there is more presence because there’s more input from what I’m personally feeling when I’m on stage.

What do you enjoy most from sharing with people and what do you hate the most? 

I really believe that the more of yourself you express and show to the world, the better connections you’ll make. You know that cliché, ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’. Well, it’s true, the more vulnerable you are, the easier you find your matches. So I just love that when I share a weird thought or obscure interest, someone who shares that will pick up on that and reply. I’ve made many good friends that way and that’s why I’ll continue sharing my life.

What I don’t like is how it inhibits your creativity. You can’t just express a half formed thought without people replying and giving their opinion back so it’s hard to test out ideas. You’re going to be held accountable for every thing you express so you can’t have a public meltdown on your social media which is kind of a shame because sometimes you need to have the meltdown to have the breakthrough. I think if I didn’t have an audience I would venture a lot more random thoughts and hobbies and probably wouldn’t be so caught up in whether what I do is good or not. I hate that I want things to be good, it’s so paralysing, it stops be experimenting. I try find other ways to express myself spontaneously though and fortunately I have therapists and trusted friends with whom I know I can have meltdowns.

"It's all about meditation and exploration. There is so much profound transformation that happens within if you just have patience and courage to be still and go within".

Photo by Toby Shaw,

@tobyshawphoto

This present, stopping, not knowing, how all these make you feel? What do you expect from you and from the world to change?

If you mean the lockdown situation, I’m actually finding it really creative. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of sadness and loneliness in the atmosphere and I miss my friends and communities. but I am very relieved for a break, a universal pause from the hustle and I do think humanity needed a long sobering moment to be still, look inwards and focus more on who we are over what we do. So many of us value ourselves by our productivity, so it’s been amazing to see that go away and to see people’s kindness and creativity emerge. Creativity is inhibited by expectations and measurements and I think with all this space and time the quarantine has created we’ve been able to let our curiosity breathe. Personally, I started drawing for the first time in years just because it is enjoyable. It’s just so nice to be able to do things that don’t have to be impressive.

One thing I’ve been doing a lot in lockdown, to avoid the news and to connect with something that feels familiar and inspiring, is rewatching all my favourite disney movies and I noticed in all of them, before the character has a breakthrough or finds herself or meets her true love, she spends a LOT of time alone talking to herself. Barely any of the movie shows her actually living her dream or hanging out with her lover! It’s all about meditation and self exploration. There is so much profound transformation that happens within if you just have patience and courage to be still and go within. So I am seeing this unique moment in history as a chance for us all to cocoon and work on our inner world. I’m looking forward to the summer when we all emerge as fabulous butterflies, but the cocoon period is just as integral to the life cycle, and the creativity cycle as the emergence.

 

As for what I expect to change, I hope we’ll all have gotten better at living in the moment and connecting properly.

If you could talk with Evanna from the past, what would you tell her? 

Not a whole lot because I know myself and I know I only really absorb the lesson once I’ve  experienced it. I would tell her to trust her instincts more and to block out people who reinforce her sense of self doubt. I would try and explain that if someone treats her like shit it does not necessarily mean she is shit and trying to convince them otherwise won’t prove her worth, but it will waste a lot of time and erode her self confidence. I’d try to explain it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, you know, hang around with people who treat you poorly, then you’ll start to believe that’s what you deserve and that will lead to you actually being kind of shit. I would try and drill into her the awareness to walk away the moment people exhibit unkind or uncaring behaviour. I’d really try to convince her that self doubt is toxic and she should protect herself from the opinions of people who don’t care about her. They’re just not worth your time and spirit.

 

I’d also tell her that dance and movement is an essential part of a mental health routine and to prioritise that. And then I would terrify her into doing her stretches by showing her how bad my splits have gotten at this ripe old age.

Interview by Katrin Vankova

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