Shannen Doherty Interview 6 April 2014

shannen twitterWe’ve just seen a huge win with the Japanese Whaling decision over Japan’s alleged scientific research, what should the next legal step be for those hoping to end the WA Shark Cull? It is a national or international legal decision?

Well I mean, the issue is an international issue. You know I always say to people, you know the whales don’t belong to any specific country or to any specific race or anything, they’re all of ours, just like the sharks they’re not Australian, just because they’re passing through the waters in Australia doesn’t mean that they’re Australia’s sharks, nor are the dolphins Taiji. It’s something that every single country should be working hard to conserve. It’s the fact that we are going to wipe everything out if we’re not careful. And there really is no scientific research that needs to be done on whales, they’re not figuring anything out from it and the fact that meat is on streets being eaten at such a high mercury level is just devastating to me. There are so many other things that people can be doing to conserve, for instance, Holly showed me a thing from Peta today where if you didn’t have chicken for one day it would be like taking 500,000 cars off the road – and that’s just one day of the week. I mean it’s pretty crazy when you start realising stuff like that and it seems to me that people aren’t paying attention and we’re just destroying everything around us. So my work with Sea Shepherd basically it’s – I believe in them. They’re not protestors they’re conservationists. 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 you know they’ve constantly gotten thrown in jail, been locked up, I mean all sorts of things. When the decision came down [Whaling decision], we were with Omar [Global Technical Director of Sea Shepherd] from the sea shepherd and he was just in shock. I mean, he – all of us – he didn’t think we’d win. Now it’s just policing it, now it’s just making sure that people respect that decision and that they don’t go to Norway or Iceland to start whaling there and you know again Sea Shepherd will be policing that it’s what they do.

How did you get involved with the Sea Shepherd?

It’s a recent thing, I was always a fan and a supporter of them, I watched Whale Wars religiously I still think it’s the best show on TV and I always kind of stepped back and admired them and then in 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 and everything else 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. And so I was really vocal on my 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 like everybody and really discussed how I felt about them, how they felt about me, what our options could be, the things that I could do to help and we’ve just sort of built up this relationship, initially through Twitter and the passion I had for them. They’re an amazing group of people, they’re really reciprocal and really respond to people no matter who you are. They want to educate and that’s they’re big thing, to educate. A lot of people they’re not educated about these issues and what’s happening in the world. To me it’s amazing that so many of the youth in Japan have no idea about the slaughter and captivity is happening. So whatever we can do to educate and bring awareness to something, is pretty amazing.

You’ve mentioned education and raising awareness of all these issues, what is the next step in raising international awareness about the dolphins in Taiji, whaling, the WA Shark Cull. It’s a huge presence in social media – what is that next step?

You know I think I’m still trying to figure that out myself to be honest about what the next step is. We’ve been constantly talking about it, 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, they’re still killing the dolphins. It may not be the drive hunt into the Cove but they’re still doing it. And it’s also like, if you’re only fighting for a couple of months out of the year how do you expect to evoke change? You can’t. So it’s something that you do – it’s pressure, it’s constant pressure. In evoking change in such an amazing country like Japan you really have to use outside pressure and that means that we all have to go to our embassies you know continue writing to our embassies and our president and environment minister. You know you have to write to basically anybody that you can, for us [Americans] it’s our congressman our senators it’s everybody to just the ambassadors, organise friendly peaceful protest and Sea Shepherd and myself for educating people more about it, 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’. I don’t think Japan is an awful place, I think Japan is an amazing place but I think that what this small little fishing village is doing is a horrible, horrible thing. So you have to be careful in the way that you present things because you don’t want to get people so defensive that they stick up for a cause that they really don’t believe in so that’s sort of in the education it’s learning how to talk to people, it’s learning how to discuss it, it’s visiting more countries and you know doing a lot more media and constantly discussing it on Twitter and Facebook. Social media is an amazing thing; it gives us such a great platform so it’s really using all of that and I’m trying to get a documentary TV show right now that will bring all of that together and use all of that.

Will that documentary follow along the lines of something like ‘Blackfish’ that has brought about some change just from looking at the decline in profits of SeaWorld?

I think 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.

What are any specific plans that you’re hoping to pursue now that you’ve been appointed to the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd?

Probably my very first thing –being involved with the Sea Shepherd, period – is getting more boat time. The thing is what they do is so amazing that you feel like you could never do enough, I can’t take 6 months out to go on a boat or to be in Taiji, I have to work, I have a family to support so it’s hard, it’s a balance. But I think that sitting on the advisory board – you know they actually just emailed me about when the first meeting would be and I’m like ‘ooo! What part do I get to play?’ You know I think I’m trying to relive the youth that –I mean 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 and be, you know, in danger and do all of those sorts of things. And now I find that I’m trying to live that life and I’m like ‘Okay, put me on the front lines’. So I don’t really know yet. I think it’s advising them probably more on how you handle media and how you put yourself out there in a positive way and again, like I said, making sure you don’t ostracise and that the people that are speaking out about it are speaking out in the right way. To me, that’s really important because you could have like 20 celebrities supporting a cause but if 19 of them aren’t really saying the right thing and are kind of half-assed in it, it takes away. So it’s really about finding those people that are passionate and have the words to express it eloquently and again without making anybody else defensive.

How was your experience on the Sea Shepherd?

I was on Bruce The Rib this small boat just patrolling and it was amazing, the sound effects were the funniest because 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. It was pretty funny to be out there and see the fishery boat following us and videoing us and like, what are we going to do, you know, really? That’s what you’re doing right now? But it was amazing it felt like I was actively doing something which to me is always the most important thing to be actively be a part of something – it doesn’t have to be Sea Shepherd, there’s the dolphin project, there’s a lot of organisations out there that do good, it’s finding something that you believe in and that you’re passionate about because the only way to see change in this world is to follow your passion and to give 100% because if people just stand by and watch, nothing’s ever going to get done.

Do you feel that from the recent acts of cruelty we are seeing, like Taiji, the Blackfish documentary, introducing a Shark Cull, do you feel like we’re going backwards as a society?

I don’t know if we’re going backwards, but 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, I feel like we’re just getting so bad, it’s so mindless. 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, there’s going to be absolutely nothing left here. There’s the whole argument about Sea World, I understand both sides, I understand that for some people, they get to see these animals, they get to see their beauty which makes them appreciate them but they’re not in their natural habitat, they’re not meant to be performing. I mean training these Orca’s it’s so awful. And the inbreeding that’s happening within the programs, like why would you breed from an Orca with an aggressive personality and that’s the other thing, they knew. You know there are really great programs out there where they, the animals that are going extinct, they basically bring them back through a breeding program and they teach them how to be out in the wild and they release them and that’s the way it should be done. We humans should not be making money from animals, that are far smarter than we, to perform for us. I just think we’re getting progressively, progressively worse, again, I don’t know if it’s backwards I just know that the future is looking bleak unless more people join organisations like Sea Shepherd. We need more protests, and actors and musicians who have big voices, like stop performing at places like Sea World – boycott. Boycott a place if they’re not doing something that you want, I mean personally I think circuses are horrific, the poor elephants who are incredibly smart and emotional, they get loose on the streets and their solution is to shoot them dead. All of it is bizarre to me, we’ve taken these wild animals – they’re wild, they should be in the wild – and with the shark cull, you know what you’re getting yourself into. I was a surfer for a very, very, very long time and I knew that I was there with sharks, that was the chance that I was taking, it’s not the shark’s fault if they encounter my leg, that’s part of them, really there’s a bigger chance of being hit by a bus than being eaten by a shark – even here in Australia. There are also way better methods to protect people in the water, there’s much better methods than stringing lines up and having them suffer and die, it’s a horrible, horrible idea. Same as whaling and the Taiji, that to me is one of the most sickening ideas.