While Sex and the City cast members Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker continue to make headlines for their longstanding feud (and Cynthia Nixon for running against Andrew Cuomo for New York governor), there's a less-publicized battle still raging between the ivory poachers and traders and the anti-poaching crusaders in Kenya and Tanzania. In fact, two leading conservationists were murdered in the two countries in the last year alone.
But when Cattrall and Parker'sSex and the Citycomplete series, Sex and the City movie, and Sex and the City 2 co-star Kristin Davis "saw the elephant" -- or bore witness to the ongoing atrocity in Africa -- she couldn't turn her back. It all started, back in 2009, when the Emmy-nominated actress was working with the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust in Western Kenya, dedicated to protecting East Africa's wildlife, wilderness, and Maasai communities and discovered an orphaned baby elephant in need. In helping to locate the baby elephant, she found a lifelong passion to protect elephants big and small from extinction. Davis even produced a 2014 documentary film about the struggle called Gardeners of Eden.
Davis spoke to Download.com back in 2014, about the documentary, the challenge she faced behind the camera, and balancing public perceptions with her personal realities. She also counted down her top five favorite apps.
I was working with a group called the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust in Western Kenya, in 2009, and we happened to hear about an orphaned baby elephant through a Maasai elder. We searched for her for a couple days, because she was hiding. She was terrorized. Her whole family had been killed, and we were lucky enough to find her. Everyone in Kenya knows that if you're lucky enough to find an orphaned baby elephant, then you get it to the Sheldrick nursery, because [conservationist and animal husbandry expert, Dr. Dame] Daphne Sheldrick knows how to raise orphaned baby elephants. She was the first person to figure out how to feed them, what to teach them, and how to nurture them to help get them over the grief of losing their family. She's an amazing woman. We were super lucky to actually find our baby elephant.
First of all, I just want people to know what's happening. It is a horrifying situation where we could lose elephants altogether in 10 years, and I don't think people know that. Then I want them to see the work being done every day because it's basically a war done on a daily basis to save these wounded animals or orphans before they perish by taking them to shelters and raising them.
I'm lucky enough to be involved with The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. We're doing so many different things, and I don't think people have any idea. I just wanted people to be able to be immersed in that world for an hour, which is what the documentary is. Number one, they're going to know what's happening. Number two, hopefully, they're going to know not to buy ivory and tell everyone they know not to buy ivory, because if there was no demand, this would not be happening. And number three, in my fantasy life, everybody would want to adopt an elephant for $50 a year. I don't expect that to happen, but that would make me very happy.
I think there are different things that are impactful based on your interests. Seeing these baby elephants up close is really amazing. If I could send everyone to the nurseries to visit the babies, I would, because no one would ever buy ivory if you met these baby elephants up close. Directors Austin Peck and Annaliese Vandenberg did a fantastic job of letting you feel that magical experience. They filmed so close to them, and their cameras got knocked over so many times, because elephants are really playful. They're also fascinated by gadgets. They were loved by the babies, so you feel that and a lot of people respond to that. But from a more masculine point of view, we go out with the day-to-day footsoldier element of the anti-poaching situation, and a lot of people respond to that, which is very different than the baby elephants. And a team goes out to treat this wounded huge elephant, and in the end, he gets up and walks into the wild. And that's amazing. So there are different things I hope different people will respond to.
The challenge is in wanting to let people fulfill their own creative vision because it's important not to give people too many notes or control them too much, because you really want them to contribute. But because we wanted this to be just an hour long, we had to pick and choose what to cover and not overwhelm people with facts while still immersing people in the situation. But it's hard to have to say, "You can't do this or that, because you can't do everything." But I hope we've shown enough in the film so that people are emotionally involved.
I think so. I'm not in the film a lot. The film's not about me, because I didn't want it to be. But I am at one point, and I have absolutely no makeup on and am in the middle of the bush. So yes, they'll definitely see a different side of me than the made-up actress. Normally, I get to play relatively glamorous characters. The safari-gear-wearing disheveled character will be a different side, but I'm into that, because I'm human. I have been so lucky to get to have the experiences I get to have in life. Because people respond to my work, I get to travel the world, meet all the people I get to meet, and do the things I get to do. So I'm happy to share my disheveled self with everybody.
People could say, "Why does she dress like a slob?" But I can't think about that. You just have to make a decision. Am I going to live up to this unrealistic expectation? Or am I just going to live my life? My feeling is I just want to live my life. I'm sorry, but I can't worry about my makeup every morning. I have a child. But there's that thing where we're held up as an escapism/glamour thing. I get that it's fun and want to be able to do that when I'm working, so I hope I don't disappoint people. It's an ongoing conversation of the reality of us in life versus the expectations of what we do.
Original interview took place on Oct. 3, 2014.
I have six or seven photo apps, but I don't know how to work them, like Visage Lab, but that retouches you a little bit much. I love Snapseed, because it really helps with all of my pictures of the elephants but also my pictures of my daughter, because sometimes I need to work on my lighting. My lighting's not great. I use it a lot.
I love my Instagram account for spreading awareness about issues like the elephants.
I have a lot of travel apps. All the airline ones, and I'm really into The Flight Tracker. So obviously when I travel, I want to make sure I don't sit around somewhere I don't have to sit around if I can help it.
I try to keep my child away from the phone. But in an emergency, say, we're on a plane, or some kind of extreme situation happening, there's something called Endless Alphabet, which is awesome. She's three, so putting letters together to create words is a big deal for her. And it makes sounds and explains what the words mean, which is cool.
Then we also have Elmo's Big Birthday Bash! that has auto-play, where it reads the story aloud to her. I love that.