Actress, Activist, and Animal Lover.
Back in sunny Los Angeles in her new digs, Alicia talks about her latest work in Kenneth Branagh’s new film based on Shakespeare’s play Love’s Labour Lost. “Kenneth is one of the most inspiring and committed directors I have ever worked with. He truly knows what he is doing. Working with him was a wonderful experience.”
The San Francisco native is not entirely convinced that she and her character in the movie, the Princess of France, have so much in common, but the similarities soon emerge as she starts talking about the role. Like Alicia, the Princess of France is a young and determined woman who is aware of her responsibilities and is proud of them. “She knows one day she will be a queen and is trying to do the best she can,” she explains.
And the same can be said about the actress who portrays her. Since childhood, Alicia has been very active in the causes she supports. Her love for animals has always been paramount, but it was a meeting with PETA’s Dan Matthews that was the catalyst for her change in lifestyle – she became a complete vegan and gave up fancy leather goods. “I have always loved animals, but never thought that I could make a difference. I would rescue dogs and protect them, but at the same time I was drinking milk and eating fish,” she says. “Sure it was all a big excuse, by being a vegan I save something like three cows and 17 chickens a year,” she proudly acknowledges.
Alicia realizes that the transformation did not happen overnight. A project of opening an animal rescue center, which is still in the works – Alicia Animal Haven – triggered the process. “I had to get educated about the issue and it was not until then that I realized how ignorant I was. It suddenly came to me that if I was going to get involved that deeply I should know a lot more about it.” After considerable research, Alicia found several organizations she is now associated with. “A lot of groups call themselves environmental or animal rights groups, yet they promote or accept activities – like hunting for purposes of culling – that are violent and cruel to animals.” Among her favorite organizations she cites Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, whose main focus is researching the benefits of a vegan diet. “Dr. Neal Barnard of PCRM has written a series of books that illustrate the results of these extensive studies,” she says.
Almost three years after changing her diet completely, Alicia says she couldn’t be happier. “I can’t tell you how much better I feel,” she says. “I did it solely for moral reasons, but can feel the results in every aspect of my life. I sleep better, my skin has never been this clear and I never have to worry about weight again,” she explains.
The young actress claims that despite having started her career at a very young age, she never bought into the “whole Hollywood craziness” and never felt as if she was living in a fishbowl. “I try to avoid all this, not consciously, but the truth is that I am just not interested.” Alicia says the secret for keeping her balance has always been to be in touch with her friends and keep focused on her priorities, which include her production company, First Kiss, and her animal rights activism.
Alicia is also poised when it comes to her strong ideology. “I don’t believe in killing animals for food. It’s not any type of survival game. The truth is that it is a selfish blind act of cruelty,” she asserts. “It is not only bad for the animals that are being tortured. It is also bad for our health. There are many tribes all over the world that are completely vegetarian and have much healthier lives than we do. If telling people that they are killing animals for nothing isn’t enough, maybe it will help if you tell them they’re also killing themselves,” Alicia explains. “I even feed my dogs a vegan diet. They are happier, healthier and less aggressive since they stopped eating meat. It just doesn’t make any sense to kill one animal to feed another.”
Judging by her deep convictions it is not surprising that her closest friends must subscribe to the same creed. “When you believe in something that deeply, you really can’t be close to people who think otherwise,” Alicia clearly states. “If people do not agree with me, then it is a sign that I can’t be around them. As simple as that,” she says. It does not mean that all her friends and family maintain such a strict diet, “but they are getting there,” she says with a sense of accomplishment.
If Alicia has done so much in such a short time, the remarkable young woman realizes she still has some growing up to do. “I know I sometimes can be unfair,” she admits, “but I really hate selfish people who think they are so cool. I can’t stand being around them.” After a pause, she continues “Sometimes I think I should be helping them,” she says without sounding condescending. “I just can’t. It’s too much. Sure I have high standards and expectations from everybody, including myself,” she explains.
The 23-year old is aware she may be spreading herself too thin. “It is a matter of priority, but right now they seem all so connected that I truly can’t decide what comes first,” she says alluding to her acting career, production company and love for animals. Ironically, she says she sometimes feels guilty for not spending enough time with her three rescued dogs: Samson – who she found while shooting True Crime – , Jeffrey and Peanut Butter. “Every year 30 to 40 million dogs and cats are put to sleep, so I will only rescue animals as opposed to going to breeders and pet stores. I love my dogs so much and I know I should give them more attention, but I am so busy all the time,” she admits. This animal rights activist, producer and actress shows no signs she might be slowing down. “There are too many things I want to do right now. I know it’s the right thing for me because I have never felt this confident before,” she says with a smile.