June 27, 2010
As an actress, Emmanuelle Chriqui is all over the map: She recently starred as a pregnant porn star in the SXSW-debuted indie “Electra Luxx,” will next be seen on the big screen in Renny Harlan’s political thriller “Georgia” and is best known as Sloan on “Entourage.”
But we were surprised to find out just how single-minded her commitment is to the causes that she passionately supports, like Raise Hope For Congo and the Environmental Media Association’s Young Hollywood Board, when we spoke with Emmanuelle after she helped launch EMA’s School Gardens Program.
“I’ve always been attracted to the alternative lifestyle, meaning organic and natural and alternative healing,” Emmanuelle revealed, after confessing that her 1988 Prius purchase inspired a whole new eco-chapter in her life.
The girl practically lives in haut new upcycled fashion line Alexx Jae for Milk, and wishes she could live in oh-so-eco-friendly bamboo. “I don’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to dress that way; it feels amazing—softer than the softest old t-shirt!” she said.
“But you can’t just use something because it’s good for the environment,” Emmanuelle revealed. “It’s got to feel good.” Her secret to living sustainably? Baby steps. “Give yourself a little goal each month,” she told me. “That’s the most effective thing you can do.”
EcoStiletto: It seems like when you work with somebody, they want you back. You created Sloan on HBO’s “Entourage,” then appeared with Adrien Brody in “Cadillac Records;” you appeared in “Electra Luxx” starring Carla Gugino, then joined her in the comedy, “Women in Trouble.”
Emmanuelle Chriqui: I feel honestly so blessed. Every one of those was such an incredible experience. The last couple of years have been so exciting because I’ve been able to tackle more challenging roles, to do things that aren’t Sloan because that’s what people recognize me the most from. And those other things are nothing like her. Carla is one of my best friends so it’s a pleasure to know that we’re on this journey together.
ES: Tell me about your work with Raise Hope for Congo, the non-profit you launched with Robin Wright Penn, Emile Hirsch and Joel Madden, as well as humanitarian John Prendergast.
EC: I had the good fortune to meet John after I heard him speak about the war in Darfur. I remember sitting there and thinking how incredible he is, to have dedicated the last 20 years of his life to issues in Africa. The tagline of his organization is, “Fighting crimes against humanity.” That pretty much says it all.
We started from the ground up to bring awareness of women and children in Congo. The next step is to go there and experience everything first-hand. We’re planning that.
ES: And you’re on the Young Hollywood board of the Environmental Media Association. What’s that about?
EC: The idea of the Young Hollywood board has been around for a while, but the Garden Challenge is really kicking it off. It’s amazing because Young Hollywood really is the voice of our generation. With the media, everything that we think and do and feel can make an impact.
ES: When did you start getting involved in eco-consciousness?
EC: I’ve always been attracted to the alternative lifestyle, meaning organic and natural and alternative healing. That stuff has always been present in my life.
When I was shooting “Zohan” I really wanted to get a new car. I had been driving the same lovely little 1988 red two-door Toyota Corolla forever. I wanted to drive a Prius, and that was a big commitment for me because it was a real statement at the time.
One of the producers put me in touch with Debbie Levin [CEO of the Environmental Media Association], who connected me with Toyota. Being involved with Debbie and the EMAs [the Environmental Media Awards show, produced by the Environmental Media Association] has been a constant learning process. I’ve been getting more and more involved. And it’s really gotten a lot easier to be environmentally conscious!
ES: Yes, I was thinking about that when you talked about a so-called “alternative lifestyle” that was environmentally conscious. I can’t wait for a time when organic and natural is the norm!
EC: Exactly! And the alternative is the bizarros who are driving their giant old Broncos.
ES: So, let’s talk about the important stuff. What are your favorite green fashion labels or beauty finds?
EC: I’m still learning. I love Alexx Jae, which is awesome. I love their style, and their idea of using [upcycled fabric] from other companies. I wear Alexx Jae all the time.
I also love anything made from bamboo—jeans, shirts, anything. I don’t understand why everybody doesn’t want to dress that way; it feels amazing—softer than the softest old t-shirt!
The whole thing is an exploration. Fashion, cosmetics—I feel like every day there’s a new something that’s all natural, all organic, no parabens. I love going to Erewhon and using Jason Body Wash. Just switching out everything and replacing it with the good kind.
It’s a journey and it’s a lifestyle that’s evolving every single minute. There are better products all the time. But you can’t just use something because it’s good for the environment. It’s got to feel good. Like toilet paper. There are so many different eco brands now, you can choose which one you like.
ES: What’s the biggest green change you’d like to make in your life—even if it’s impossible right now?
EC: One day I want my home to be entirely green. Everything—every couch and mattress and solar panel and light bulb—everything environmentally conscious and efficient but so completely luxurious and lovely that people will be shocked. I would love to do that. Eventually.
ES: What’s your favorite eco-friendly tip our readers should know about?
This is true about activism and environmentalism: Take it one step at a time. Do something and you’ll be making a big difference. Maybe that means that the next time you clean your house you use all natural products. Then the next time you buy toilet paper and paper towels buy the alternative brand. Just try it.
I feel like we need to make little goals for ourselves. You can’t do it all because it’s totally overwhelming and you give up, you’re like, “Forget it! It’s too expensive, it’s too crazy, I’m fine the way I was.” Take baby steps. Give yourself a little goal each month. That’s the most effective thing you can do.
ES: Who’s your eco-idol and why?
EC: Debbie Levin. And also Amy Smart. Amy is such a tangible example. She’s a brilliant actress. She’s been so successful. You speak to her and she’s so knowledgeable and passionate, but in the least pretentious way. She’s such a great example. She’s so great and cool in a way that I’d like to emulate.
ES: But you are. You’re talking to me about green toilet paper!
EC: I guess! But really, I find it amazing to speak with Amy or Debbie, they’re so tuned in to everything on all levels—even the technical fronts and laws and rules that are being passed. They’re definitely my eco-idols.
ES: What’s your worst eco-sin?
EC: I would say my worst eco-sin is not being diligent about my recycling. Some weeks I’m great—I hardly have any garbage at all! And some weeks I’m like, “Wow. I have a lot of garbage.” And my consumption of water bottles. I need to get organized. I’m moving, and in my next place I want to get the Kagan whole-house water filter. The bottles are such a big no-no.
ES: What’s the best green advice you ever received—and who gave it to you?
EC: I literally have a closet full of wrapping paper and gift bags. I refuse to buy wrapping paper. It’s absurd to me. That goes way back. And I never throw away any plastic or paper bags; I fold them and put them away so they’re reusable as trash bags.
Little things: Turn off the lights before you go out. Don’t run the water when you’re brushing your teeth. Don’t let the water run when you’re not in the shower. All those things. It’s just about being aware of yourself.
ES: Okay, because I’m a sucker for compliments, can you tell me what you like about EcoStiletto?
EC: I love it! What I love about EcoStiletto is that it’s a total lifestyle website that is simply amazing. You can click on anything—products, shoes, fashion, charity stuff, what people are doing—it’s amazing. It’s comprehensive and it’s fun to cruise and see what’s going on.
And it’s inspiring that it even exists! EcoStiletto shows that we’re headed in the right direction. It’s super hip—it has none of the hippy dippy stigma, oh you’re wearing a burlap bag. That’s the thing that will bring people is that it’s cool—it’s really cool!