Interview by Erik Schultz
Photo by Lesley Bryce Photos
Elaine Hendrix is best known for her acting performances in numerous television series including Get Smart, Joan of Arcadia, Friends, Ellen, Charmed, The Middleman, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Married…with Children, Rizzoli & Isles, Rules of Engagement, The Mentalist, Castle, and the reboot of 90210, just to name a few. She also stared in wonderful films such as The Parent Trap, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Superstar, Inspector Gadget, and What the Bleep Do We Know!?. This is an impressive body of work, but what impressed us most about Elaine, is her love of animals and her work to save them. In 2011, she helped found the non-profit organization, Animal Rescue Corps (ARC), who’s mission is to end animal suffering through direct and compassionate action, and to inspire the highest ethical standards of humanity towards animals. We were honored to talk with Elaine Hendrix. To learn more about Animal Rescue Corps please visit www.animalrescuecorps.org.
I would like to jump right in and talk about your involvement with Animal Rescue Corps. What was it about this organization and their mission that really made you want to get involved with them?
Well, being one of the founding officers, I helped establish what the missions is, so it’s hand-in-glove to begin with. The founder and president, Scotlund Haisley, is one of the world’s foremost experts on rescuing, so it’s exciting to build something so meaningful along with him and the other team members. We specialize entirely on everything rescue related. There aren’t any other organizations who has the focus and skill set we do.
With all your travels related to Animal Rescue Corps and the other organizations, are there a couple stories of happiness and joy that jump out, you can share?
The beauty of rescuing is that there are thousands of joyous stories because the animals are getting out of hell. One in particular…I will never forget working with Unchained Dogs Coalition in North Carolina. This man LOVED his pit bull and took very good care of him, but he didn’t have a way to keep him in his yard without chaining him up while people trespassed and antagonized the poor dog. So, Unchained Dogs went in - as they do - got the dog neutered and while I was there, we built an enclosure where the dog could live chained free. We then took an extra step to create a barrier where people could no longer trespass and pick on the dog. Seeing the gratitude of that man, and watching his pit run free for the first time was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I still have the rope of the first dog I helped “unchain” while working with them.
What is next for you and Animal Rescue Corps?
Saving more lives! There’s always something going on with ARC. I encourage people to keep up with our activities because they’re pretty amazing.
Your love for animals must go back to your childhood. Tell me about the family pets you had growing up, and how that led to your passion to help animals.
I have always loved animals. I think nature is the greatest creation. Throughout my life I’ve had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, hamsters, and a rabbit…Next I’m adopting a goat!…But it took watching an undercover fur video for me to become an animal advocate. Like most people, I didn’t know what was happening to them. Now that I do, I can’t claim ignorance ever again. And I can’t turn my back. Animals - in staggering numbers - suffer unimaginable atrocities every single day. It’s simply not right.
I know you are also involved with other amazing organizations as well. Can you touch briefly on a couple of these, your involvement, and their mission?
Unchained Dog Coalition - They get dogs off chains and into their own free spaces, still in the homes where they live, as well as provide spay/neuter services. They are a HUGE support to the communities where they exist.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary - They do so much from running a sanctuary to rescue to investigation to rehabilitation to spay/neuter programs, etc.
Stray Rescue of St. Louis - I’m on their board. Randy Grim and everyone there is doing incredible things for the dogs in that city (Missouri is the puppy mill capital of the country.) I LOVE this organization.
There are countless smaller/local groups across the world. I highly encourage everyone to get involved with their local shelters and rescue organizations. No deed is too frivolous and no amount of money is too small. I, 100% believe that now that I have an org to help look after. Helping animals is actually SOOO easy.
Now moving onto happiness. What does happiness mean to you?
For me, happiness is more about fully accepting, being okay with and completely enjoying who I am as a human being and not letting outside forces determine or sway that. Emotions are so transitory, so to “feel” happy, that can be fleeting. On the other hand, to “know” happiness, that’s something for me to hang my hat on.
Can you give us some of your “happy” music suggestions? Maybe a song or artist that makes you move, puts a smile on your face, or you belt out singing in the car.
I love P!nk. Always have. I love her audacity and authenticity. Her range as a writer and a vocalist is inspiring and FUN! and inspiration and fun put a smile on my face for sure! I have each of her albums on constant rotation. She’s also a big animal lover, so that endears her to me all the more.
What is the biggest thing you have learned about yourself through your journey so far?
That vulnerability is powerful. Probably the most powerful thing there is. I’m constantly working on that. I’ve grown tremendously in this area, and still think I have more to go. I have often made the mistake of thinking that being “tough” is the best way to handle things or the strongest attitude to have. Sometimes it’s a great tool, but not as a way of life. Certainly not if I want to be a true artist.
We will take a moment to touch on your other job…as a phenomenal actress? What projects are you currently working on that you can talk about?
Well, thank you. At this very moment I’m shooting a Christmas TV movie with Sergio DiZio and Christopher Lloyd called “Anything But Christmas.” Then in August “General Education” comes out in some theaters. I just finished playing ‘Blanche Dubois’ in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and it looks like I’ll be reprising her in LA this fall. On and on and on. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.
Of all the wonderful roles you’ve had, which role pushed you the most as an actress and why?
Hands down - playing Blanche Dubois. She’s one of the greatest roles ever written for a woman. She’s so complex. I could probably play her the rest of my life and I would find something new about her every time. She’s tragically losing her mind, and I love her.
Outside of acting and ARC, what else are you working on?
Ha! In the 2 minutes I have to spare between these two careers I do things like take care of my own animals, eat, sleep, visit with friends and family, travel…I do have other projects in development with various companies that are very exciting. I’ll be able to talk about those next time.