She made a name for herself in Beverly Hills, 90210 and Mallrats, but her work as Prue Halliwell on Charmed catapulted her to fame. As someone who has stayed in the film and television industry for over 30 years it would be easy to think that acting was Shannen’s dream come true. But the star is now pursuing other ventures and making a name for herself as an influential and active conservationist.
A long time animal-lover, Shannen has been an ongoing advocate for marine conservation, actively involving herself in the Tweet4Taiji campaign eventually leading to her involvement with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
“I’ve always been a fan and a supporter of them, I watched Whale Wars religiously, I still think it’s the best show on TV.”
“I was really vocal on Twitter and they [the Sea Shepherd] started following me and they got in contact with me and then I sat down and met with Farrah and spoke to Lisa…and really discussed how I felt about them, how they felt about me…and we’ve just sort of built up this relationship, initially through Twitter and the passion I had for them”.
The Sea Shepherd has been at the forefront of many campaigns including the Taiji dolphins but most recently here in Australia they have been a driving force at stopping the controversial Western Australian shark cull, a cause Shannen herself has been following very closely, praising the efforts of the group.
“They’re pretty relentless in what they’re about. They’re courageous and they’re heroes and they put themselves in danger, they did in Japan with the whaling, I mean we all know what happened, they’re a small boat, they’ve constantly gotten thrown in jail…”
“The issue is an international issue…the whales don’t belong to any specific country…they’re all of ours, just like the sharks… just because they’re passing through the waters in Australia doesn’t mean that they’re Australia’s sharks.”
Shannen and her former co-star Holly Marie Combs were lucky enough to be invited out by the Sea Shepherd during their time in Western Australia, an experience Shannen will never forget.
“I was on Bruce the Rib this small boat just patrolling and it was amazing..
“It was a rough day out there sea-wise and I was right up there at the front of the boat because I didn’t want to miss a thing and we were jumping waves and I would land and you would just hear me go “Eugh!” but with this grin on my face I loved it – I loved it, I loved it, I loved it.”
The recent marine-life violations that have been put in the media spotlight because of the efforts of groups like the Sea Shepherd has caused Shannen to question where society is going and what can be done to fix it, highlighting the importance of education and active involvement.
“Where we’re going is horrific. I’m not sure if it’s backwards, I don’t know if we’ve ever had this amount of cruelty in the world before…
“It’s like we are pounding our chests and saying ‘I am man and I can do anything’. Well you can’t and you’re destroying the world, you’re destroying the planet.”
“Whatever we can do to educate and bring awareness to something, is pretty amazing.”
“You know, sadly things come in go of what seems to be relevant for people to talk about –not that they come and go because they’ve stopped. I mean Taiji for example, it’s like a hot topic for 4 to 6 months and then when it’s not happening during the year people forget about it, they don’t realise that they’re still off harpooning the dolphins…It may not be the drive hunt into the Cove but they’re still doing it.”
The most recent hunt drive to Taiji was one that arguabley gave Shannen somewhat of an epiphany in terms of vocally expressing her passion and views.
“This last hunt drive in Taiji I kind of went ‘you know what? I’m tired of not being vocal’ and I’ve been a little hesitant I think to be vocal in my life because at one point in my life I was vocal politically and people got really upset with me and ostracised me…so I kind of decided to be quiet and now years and years later I thought ‘I have to fight for the things that I believe in’ regardless of how other people feel about it.”
As for her recent appointment to the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Shannen is already planning her next moves with a strong focus on friendly education and discussion on a global level.
“So my work with the Sea Shepherd basically it’s – I believe in them.”
“Everybody has a split personality, there’s the part of me that loves being an actor and then there’s that other side of me that wanted to be a photojournalist…now I find that I’m trying to live that life and I’m like ‘Okay, put me on the front lines’…
I think I’m still trying to figure that out myself what the next step is…
“We have to visit more countries, certainly I do, organise talks about it and have the right pamphlets. You also have to be careful that you don’t ostracise people because it’s not about pointing your finger and saying ‘you know, you’re wrong’.”
“It’s learning how to talk to people, it’s learning how to discuss it…and you know doing a lot more media and constantly discussing it on Twitter and Facebook”.
She is also planning a documentary TV show that will “bring all of that together” and hopefully highlight the important issues happening across the world.
“It would follow along the lines of nothing that’s out there, it would be much more travelling throughout and really looking at the different world issues and exploring them and exploring them from all sides but really coming from a conservationist point of view”.
Whatever Shannen’s next step is will presumably be one of great influence and importance for conservationism as a whole.
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