Photo by Marathon Foto
Youth Runner Blogger Thea Toocheck set up this great interview with Evanna and we thought you'd enjoy learning about what she has been doing since her days on the set of Harry Potter.
To just about everyone else in the world, it was a typical Wednesday night. But it wasn’t for me; I was waiting for the most important half an hour of my life. Fine, perhaps this is an overstatement, but that’s how it feels when you’re about to have a conversation with one of your biggest heroines. My stomach was churning because I was waiting to talk to Evanna Lynch, a runner, animal activist, and actress, who is best known for her portrayal as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies.
But “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” came out five years ago, and Lynch has continued to be active not only in acting but in advocating for animal rights and sports as well. On March 20, she ran the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon in support of the World Animal Protection. The World Animal Protection, according to their website, wants to create a “world where animals live free from suffering” by doing work around the globe, ranging from canine vaccinations, the implementation of humane farming practices, fast response to disasters, and keeping animals safe in their natural, wild habitats.
This isn’t Lynch’s first time working with the World Animal Protection; Lynch says, “We’ve kind of built a relationship, and I’m very proud of that relationship, it’s really mutually beneficial … It’s a passion of mine, animal protection and animal welfare, and I especially like their approach to animal welfare; they really consider everyone involved: why are animals suffering, why is there such cruelty?” An example of their previous joint efforts includes Lynch’s visit to the Libearty Bear Sanctuary in Romania; Lynch spent two days there last fall and was greatly impacted by what she saw. “It made me realize that [my work] was significant,” Lynch recalls gratefully. “If you could take away the suffering of one animal, one creature, it really means the world to them. And so we really have to focus on what’s possible, on what we can do to save as many animals as possible.” She assured me that any way people want to get involved, they can, because “it’s mostly just education”; Lynch described the gap between what people say and feel and what they do. Once people understand the consequences of their actions, they can change for the better. Lynch herself had been a vegetarian since age eleven, but last year made the transition to being a vegan. “You can kind of get away with being a lazy vegetarian,” she admitted, clearly speaking from experience, but as a vegan she feels that “mindful eating means something more than just food; it’s like you’re standing up for something.” In changing the way she lives her life, Lynch has made her campaign for animal rights an everyday, far-reaching experience.
Lynch intends to continue helping animals as much as she can, admitting, “I don’t think I’ll ever stop. It took me a while to find a cause, a mission that I was interested in or very passionate about, but I find that animals give me back so much.” She cites her passion for helping animals in having a connection with them. She’s had cats her whole life, “dogs too, and rabbits and everything, but cats were always my favorite.” In fact, her Twitter bio confesses that she is an “aspiring cat.” At one point, she informed me, her family had eleven cats because they kept taking in strays. When I told her that I wished I had a cat but couldn’t because my dad was allergic, she was clearly upset. “Oh, no!” she cried, and then joked, “My boyfriend is allergic too, but it’s definitely the cat over him, so he just has to go with it.”
Aside from her cats, Lynch loves running. It’s something she likes to do; she doesn’t try to punish herself and finds the exercise calming and challenging at the same time. After a run, she says, she always feels happier and better overall. Lynch started out with 5Ks but always aspired to run a half marathon. She used to tell herself, “‘maybe I’ll do that someday,’ but then [the World Animal Protection] came along and asked if I’d run and get sponsorship for it, so that was a good excuse!” Now that she’s done one, she’d love to do more, but a full marathon seems a little much: “It wasn’t even that the running is hard, it’s the discipline of every four or five days a week, getting out and training … I’ve found that my social life took a hit … I like to do yoga and kickboxing, and both of those kind of fell by the wayside … I don’t know if I can commit to doing a full marathon. But never say never.”
Much of running-of all sports, Lynch supposes-is mental. Lynch took training very seriously and often doubted her ability to complete the race. She found it helpful to take both training and the course itself “bit by bit,” eventually coming to the conclusion that “If you look ahead to how much you have to do, it won’t be fun, and it won’t be attainable.” The same goes for writing. Lynch is beginning to work on a novel and finds that “just writing, not being pressured about what you write, just getting whatever your thoughts are down, kind of frees you up.”
Lynch tries to remember that the most important part of doing things is liking what you do. She really enjoyed a movie she worked on last year called “My Name is Emily,” which comes to Irish theaters on April 8. “That movie is special,” Lynch said of the film, “and I don’t want to do things that I’m half-hearted about … I audition often, [I’m] still searching for that right thing.”
For a long time, “that right thing” was Harry Potter. Lynch misses the security, safety, and family of it, but she’s glad to be out on her own now. “I’m really happy to go on and do things that challenge me; I never want to get bored … every time I get a project that’s weird and unique and quirky, it feels kind of scary,” Lynch confided, but she’s decided that it’s good to face the uncertainty. “That said,” she quipped cheerfully, “if they ask me to do a role in Fantastic Beasts, I would love to take it immediately!”
But does she ever get tired of talking about Luna? Lynch laughed when I asked her this. “I don’t get tired of her … I’d have to say I get tired of talking about it just because it was 5 or 6 years ago; I don’t have anything new to say about it, honestly. I reread the books and I get a new thought, I find a new way to look at her and her life, but I don’t like to sound like a broken tape recorder, and there’s not a whole lot that I’ve never talked about. Personally, I still find a lot of wisdom in how she lived her life, her outlook on the world, and I definitely go back to that.”
Lynch has her own sort of wisdom, too. “Do what makes you happy … just say, for example, in exercise people think you have to just do it, but I think there’s always a way to make it so that you love it; if running isn’t your thing, maybe swimming will be, or boxing or tennis will be-there’s always a way to make your life so that you love it, you know? … I think always try to find ways to make your life fun … There will be something to make your heart excited and make you love your life, and I think that’s the way to go.”
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