Inspiring change – Actor Daryl Hannah talks to Glass about questioning our values

Inspiring change – Actor Daryl Hannah talks to Glass about questioning our values

Daryl Hannah’s humanitarian work and unfaltering support for charities and causes worldwide are a far cry from the glamour of Hollywood. The actor talks to Glass about questioning our values

Since her breakout role in the seminal prophetic film, Bladerunner, Daryl Hannah has appeared in more than 70 films in a career spanning over 30 years. But it is her new role as Hollywood’s eco-activist that has proved her most challenging yet. A staunch campaigner for issues such as human rights, animal cruelty, ocean conservation and sex trafficking, she has been arrested twice in the line of duty. A co-founder of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (a non-profit organisation that aims to promote the use of sustainable biodiesel fuels), Daryl leads an eco-positive lifestyle; keeping bees, powering her home on solar energy and running her car on left over grease from fast food restaurants are just a handful of steps she takes to live off-the-grid. A choice she encourages others to take through her self-funded website. An unlikely voice of injustice she may be, but her compassion and devotion to the cause are indisputable.

How did you become such a committed activist?
I never intended to become an activist. It’s just the more I learn about injustice in pretty much all its petty, ugly forms. I feel compelled to act, to do anything I can to stop it.

Inspiring Change Daryl Hannah £

People often focus on just one charity. Do you ever feel that not concentrating on one issue could be a disadvantage?
I really don’t have a scheme, agenda or plan. I just do what I can, when I can. I’m also confounded by the fact that most people see humanitarian concerns, animal welfare concerns and environmental health and justice as separate issues. They are all inextricably linked, interconnected on the deepest levels. So if you focus on the best solution for one critical issue, it’s inevitably the best solution for all issues.

The amount of work you do personally is vast. Would you say that the things we can do at home to protect the environment are more important than on a global scale?
Well, we need a shift on every scale. We’ve got real work to do! We need political reforms, administration changes, new laws, conservation, carbon and methane reductions, technological advances, and most of all we need to employ them! But the good news is I believe the power to make real lasting change lies within each one of us. I see all of the crises we face as ultimately coming down to a value issue. What do we believe and truly value? How can those things be better reflected in the way we live our lives? What kind of a world do we want? Can we redefine our notion of success and shed our fatal human flaw, this pursuit of instant gratification? Can we shift our orientation from, “what am I going to get”, to “what am I going to give”? I just love the fact that on some level, almost everybody has the option to participate and actively choose to live his or her vision of a better world. And when you do it, it can be wildly inspiring and effective.

What has been the thing that has affected you the most through all of your research into environmental issues?
This corporate rule crap! I am continually shocked how we collectively let corporate entities carry on outrageous, destructive behaviour with seeming impunity and how we have imbued them more power, rights and consideration than our fellow man, other species and the natural systems that sustain all life.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement through your humanitarian work?
The incredible bonds I’ve forged with the people I’ve met and struggled with.

Is there any one endeavour that you believe should have more attention in the media and in the public mind?
My website – which is super homemade – is dedicated to highlighting solutions. We really do have so many realistic, applicable, readily available solutions to the crises we face – we know there are too many people, too many cars, too much garbage, an economic collapse, climate chaos, oil spills, endless wars, poverty, slavery, pollution, mass extinctions, dying oceans – but there are solutions out there! Sure, many of these solutions need to be scaled up to make them more affordable and more widely available, and innovation is always needed. (But) what we’re really missing is the knowledge that solutions exist – and then we’re missing the will to employ them.

What was your main aim in creating the website?
Whenever I have a moment where I light up with some incredible information or inspiring story or solution, I say to myself, “Why didn’t someone ever tell me that before?” Then I want to share the information. is a fabulous, uncensored way for me to get that info out there.

Your celebrity status makes it much easier to publicise a number of issues. Do you find it frustrating when other celebrities appear to be activists and adopt these convictions as fashion accessories?
Any voice given to voiceless issues is useful; my hope is that people at least do a bit of research so they aren’t promoting something that is ultimately damaging or ineffective.

What would you say is the most important thing people can do to help? Where should they start?
Always with your passion! Start with what you love, with what moves you.

In your personal life you partake in all these humanitarian endeavours, but conversely, you star in violent films such as Kill Bill. What attracted you to such a brutal character?
I’ve loved movies all my life. I love good characters, good stories, beautiful images and looking through someone else’s eyes. There are a few genres I’m not crazy about, but you can’t beat a brilliant filmmaker – and in my opinion Quentin [Tarantino] is one.

As a filmmaker, Tarantino is immersed in every one of his characters. For central characters, this detail must be overwhelming. Is working with him an intense experience?
It’s like going to the best film school ever. QT’s knowledge of film is staggering and his love for every aspect of the entire process is fascinating, fun and contagious.

What is the most trying aspect of Hollywood?
Traffic, egos and press.

There are so many cases of people losing their heads in the bright lights of stardom. How do you keep grounded?
I think that stuff is built into your character.

What holds promise for you?
We are an incredibly inventive species. We’ve discovered and come up with so many amazing things. I am holding onto the promise that our survival instinct, some common sense, along with our ingenuity will lead us to a more sane, harmonious, humane and healthy future, so all life on this amazingly beautiful planet earth can thrive. (That) may sound corny, but it’s true.

by Cat Tsang

Taken from the Glass Archive – Issue Three – Promise