Elaine Hendrix is a woman on a mission. When she’s not adding to her impressive résumé, she’s fighting for the lives of helpless, suffering animals, a cause near and dear to her heart. The accomplished actress and animal activist, famous for her roles in The Parent Trap, Inspector Gadget 2, and Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion, opened up to College Lifestyles about everything from her passion for rescuing animals to her favorite food.
College Lifestyles: How did you get started in the business, and what inspired you to take the path you have taken?
Elaine Hendrix: Growing up in a small town in East Tennessee, I didn’t dream of one day going to “Hollywood.” It didn’t even register as a possibility. It was once I moved to Atlanta, GA that I learned my lifelong performing skills could be put to the task, and I could make a living doing so. Then I moved to Hollywood, got a manager, an agent, an attorney, a publicist, and the rest is history. Oh, and I did A LOT of hard work as well.
CL: You have had a very successful career thus far. What would you attribute all of your success to?
Hendrix: It’s a mix – enjoyment of what I do, persistence toward my creative goals, a sense of life-purpose, and a basic need to put food on my table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head. I’ve come this far. There’s no turning back now.
CL: Would you consider yourself a grounded person? If so, how do you maintain that kind of mindset when it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and the glam?
Hendrix: Funny, I’ve been thinking about that lately. I forget a lot of people see me differently sometimes because they think I’m a “celebrity.” I like it if I can help the cause for animals, but in day-to-day life, it’s a little…unique. Growing up in Tennessee, having strong ties to family and friends, and rescuing animals all keep me feeling a strong sense of grounded-ness. It’s hard to get “caught up” in anything lofty when you spend every free moment doing everything possible to pull animals out of hell.
CL: You’ve been working on some new projects this year including the film General Education, “Fetching” on AOL, and “Instant Stepmom” on ABC. What project are you most excited about?
Hendrix: Ooo, that’s like asking which child do you like best. I love each and get excited about each for different reasons. If I absolutely, no other choice, HAD to choose between these three I’d go with “Fetching”. My character ‘Sheila’ is fabulously fabulous; we were around dogs all day and we might get a second season. So…everyone check it out on AOL!
CL: Your character Sheila in the new web series “Fetching” loves to pamper her pooch Frederick. Do you have any pets, and if so, do they get that kind of pampering?
Hendrix: Ha. Do I have pets? Ha. That’s funny. Right now I have 5 dogs: Tiloc, Rossmore Dinky, Blitz & Ellie and 2 cats: Kimbo and Goodie Cornbread. Then throughout my life I’ve had other dogs and cats, birds, turtles, hamsters, fish, and a rabbit. Next, I’m getting a goat. I would say I definitely pamper my pets, but I also remember they’re animals. They each have their own unique needs, and I certainly go over and beyond to meet them. For instance, my original canine girl ‘Tiloc is an old lady now. She’s riddled with arthritis and has a hard time getting around, so she gets weekly massage/physical therapy sessions to help her poor old joints. Is that pampering? Or looking after someone who can’t look after themselves? It’s a fine line in my home.
CL: You took the stage this summer as ‘Blanche’ for the University of North Alabama’s adaptation of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” What was it like working alongside Myk Waterford as well as for the university?
Hendrix: Myk is a longtime friend and we’ve been scheming for a long time to do “Streetcar” together. Thanks to his connections with the university’s drama department, we were finally able to do so through their new summer theatre program, which is aimed at bringing professional talent into their productions. It was awesome. Everyone worked so hard. Our director, Randal Mylar, is a two-time Tony nominated director and was an absolute dream to work with. There’s talk now of us putting it up in LA. We’ll see what happens.
CL: Which do you prefer? On-screen acting or stage acting?
Hendrix: They are entirely apples and oranges, and I was reminded of that when I wrapped “Streetcar” and went straight to Canada to film the TV movie “Anything But Christmas.” The process of creating the character is the same, but not really anything else. I LOVE the energy and instant feedback of live performances. I equally LOVE the ability to start over in front of the camera if I mess up or come up with a better idea. There are pros and cons to both, and they each come with their own challenges and benefits.
CL: Tell our readers a little bit about your partnership with the Animal Rescue Corps. How has working with the organization changed your life? Why was it important for you to get involved with the organization?
Hendrix: Rescuing animals has helped change my life in so many ways whether it’s with Animal Rescue Corps or another organization. My eyes have been opened to so many horrors, and it actually inspires me to be more compassionate. To get an animal out of hell with your own two hands is an incredible feeling and honor. As far as working with Animal Rescue Corps specifically, I’m one of the founding officers, so…it was a no brainer.
CL: In reference to animal suffering, what is the biggest message you’d like to get across to your fans or people in general?
Hendrix: Helping animals is really easy. Here are some basics: If you have a pet, get them fixed. If you’re looking for one, adopt don’t buy. Don’t wear fur – ever. Use your money to buy products NOT tested on animals – cosmetics, household cleaners, grooming products, etc. Become a vegetarian, or at least cut down your meat intake (that’s healthier for you too.) Donate/volunteer at your local shelter. See! All easy.
CL: It was a while back when you filmed Disney’s The Parent Trap, but it’s one of my favorite movies. Do you have any fond or funny memories from filming?
Hendrix: Filming that movie was unlike anything else. It was magical on so many levels: the role was perfect – phenomenal location – absolute best cast and crew – Lisa Ann Walter and I became besties. There’s literally not a day that goes by that someone says to me, “Hey, you’re the wicked stepmom from ‘The Parent Trap!” It’s become a staple on TV and a pop culture classic.
CL: Where do you like to shop, and what is your ideal, go-to outfit?
Hendrix: I used to be so creative with my clothing. Now, I have so little free time, I go for what I call the ‘sporty chic’ look: quality cottons and denims – active wear that is form fitting and comfortable but stylish. When not on set or the red carpet I live in cargo pants, tank tops and layered sweaters and jackets. However, I’m equally comfortable in overalls as I am an evening gown.
CL: What steps do you take to maintain a healthy lifestyle? What’s your favorite food?
Hendrix: Using the humane treatment of animals as my compass automatically leads me to a healthy lifestyle in every way possible. (And I haven’t had a Coke since 1982.) I don’t wear fur or leather. I love to be active. I get out and walk/hike with my dogs all the time. I love to dance, too! I eat vegan whenever possible and vegetarian otherwise. There are so many great healthy and humane cuisines, but it helps that I’m not a particularly adventurous eater. I could live on watermelon my whole life if need be (not that I would probably “live” very long if that’s all I ate.) My mom taught me to take care of my skin since I was 15, and having a family with good genes helps tremendously. Finally, I’ve adapted a strong sense of spirituality and primarily practice Buddhism now. Bottom line: I just like how powerful I feel when I take care of myself (and animals) body, mind and spirit.
CL: What is the most embarrassing thing to ever have happened to you? Do you have any crazy fan stories?
Hendrix: Well, I don’t have a great deal of shame, so “embarrassing” me is tough. That’s the comedienne in me – can’t worry too much about what I look like. As for crazy fan stories – they range from having kids run away from me to people taking pictures of me while I eat. People do the darnedest things.
CL: Who is your celebrity crush?
Hendrix: George Clooney. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know – take a number…and remember it wouldn’t last long.
CL: For women aspiring to be like you, what advice can you give?
Hendrix: Don’t. Be yourself. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Know yours. Play upon your strengths and give yourself gentle acceptance for your weaknesses – whatever you do: DON’T compare yourself to others. You never know what someone else is dealing with on the inside, no matter what the outside looks like. ”To thy own self be true” is an iconic statement for a reason.
Watch for Elaine in General Education hitting select theaters on August 24, and be sure to follow Elaine (@elaine4animals) and the Animal Rescue Corps (@ARCorps) on Twitter!