Beloved for playing badass characters in the Divergent films and the TV series Nikita, actor Maggie Q is a Hollywood star who’s known the world over. But did you know that she’s also a coproducer of Earthlings—a documentary that explores the ways in which major industries use and abuse animals—as well as a longtime PETA supporter? Just recently, she starred in a striking anti-fur ad for the group.
— PETA Asia (@PETAAsia) February 8, 2017
In her exclusive interview with Sina Entertainment in China, Maggie Q talks about her life and why she campaigns for animal rights.
How did this campaign shoot come about?
I’ve been a PETA supporter for a long time. One of the things that turned me into an animal rights activist was a PETA stall I saw at a concert in Hong Kong when PETA was first starting out in Asia. I got some leaflets and read them on a flight the next day. It changed my life. I’ve been working with PETA Asia on a variety of projects for over a decade now. This specific ad came together quickly. I had another shoot for endangered species scheduled in New York City with the phenomenal fashion photographer Greg Kadel. I e-mailed a friend at PETA and asked if he had any skinned-animal props in the city, and he did. PETA uses them to remind fur-wearers that animals on fur farms are beaten, gassed, or anally electrocuted—and sometimes, they’re even skinned while still alive. So, after the scheduled photo shoot was finished, we shot the PETA ad.
What do you hope to achieve?
I hope people will go to PETA’s website (PETAAsia.cn), Weibo page (Weibo.com/PETAAsia), or Miaopai page (http://m.miaopai.com/v2_index/u/paike_relckon29k) and see how animals live on fur farms. Eyewitness exposés of fur farms in China, the world’s largest exporter of fur, have revealed that animals are confined to barren wire cages—exposed to all weather extremes—and that many go insane from the constant confinement and frantically pace and circle their cages. I want people to MAKE THE CONNECTION that the choice to wear fur is DIRECTLY contributing to mass suffering.
You’ve been a huge star for over a decade now. Do you feel that you finally have the power to speak to influence more?
I’ve always tried to speak up for what’s right, from before people even knew who I was. It might be that as I get older, my voice becomes stronger. For better or worse, we live in a society that is obsessed with celebrity. If you’re famous—if your name is in the news—people will pay attention to what you have to say. So I want to make sure that I’m saying something important—about animal rights and other social justice issues. For me, if you are fortunate enough to work in entertainment, you have a responsibility to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Whoever those living beings may be. You can’t just take all the privilege that comes your way, and not give back.
What project are you working on now?
I’m in a new television drama called Designated Survivor. It’s one of the highest-rated shows in America. I feel very blessed! It’s about a low-level politician who is appointed president of the United States after Washington, D.C., is hit by a terrorist attack. I play an FBI agent. Check it out!
When will you next come to China?
You never know. Every time I think I won’t be going to China for a while, something comes up. It’s like my second home. I always miss China. Especially the people.
Are you on Sina Weibo?
I am. I’m at RealMaggieQ. I’ve just started to focus on it. You know, I’m not someone who likes to do self-promotion, but I like to connect with my fans, and I love being able to tell people about things that are important to me, like this new PETA campaign to stop consumers from wearing fur.
Anything more to add?
I know subjects like the ones I am speaking for with PETA are not easy to face. Trust me, it hurts me to present them to you. I wish they weren’t happening. My dream is one day for human beings to look at the state of others, whether it be people, animals, or our sacred environment and say to themselves, “That’s wrong. I would never want to be treated that way. I will not put on others what I wouldn’t want put on myself.” This is the ONLY way we change things. When we can look at suffering and see ourselves in that suffering, or our children, or our own beloved animals.