Generally speaking, widely famous people require briefer introductions. This does not mean that it becomes easier to introduce them though. Honestly, it is just more intimidating. Lucky for me, our cover star, Shannon Elizabeth, who barely needs any introduction, is one of the warmest and most genuinely nice people you’ll ever get to meet!
We met up with Shannon at her South African residence, where we were welcomed with homemade cappuccinos and warm smiles on a chilly winter morning. The actress, who is well known for her roles in major box office films like American Pie and Scary Movie, is as down to earth as they come. Dressed in a casual outfit and chatting away about everyday occurrences, you wouldn’t imagine that she’s not a local. The only thing giving away her heritage is her American accent.
As we popped down to the beach for a few photos, we were able to chat to the vibrant philanthropist about her current projects and some of her experiences, and here is what we learnt about Shannon:
Being an activist for animal rights and wildlife conservation, it should come as no surprise that one of her favourite things about South Africa is the amazing variety of animals. “I love going into the bush, watching the animals, and being at one with nature. There’s nothing like it!”
“I love going into the bush, watching the animals, and being at one with nature. There’s nothing like it!“
The other favourite thing is, of course, that she met her husband here. The pair make a powerful couple and even host a podcast together. “The Art of Conservation” can be found on Apple Podcast, and you can follow their page on Instagram to learn a bit more about the program and the great topics they discuss.
This doesn’t mean that Shannon doesn’t miss the States. Being away from your family and friends is never easy.
Other benefits, like the wide variety of vegan products, supplements and being able to get them at a drop of a hat, are surely not to be dismissed. Then there’s also little Peanut. While living in the USA, Shannon and Peanut used to fly together all the time.
The airlines are much better equipped and agreeable to K-9 companions flying in-cabin than they are over here. Although airlines are shaping up to make these arrangements easier to access, I’m sure it will be quite some time still until we are on the same standard as international airlines.
So, what is the one thing that you wouldn’t expect Shannon to have in her house? The answer is this: “Peptide shots and a closet of every conceivable vitamin and health protocol. I am a complete bio-hacker! I love learning about new technology and natural remedies to improve everything from physical health to brain performance. It also helps me learn about the best ways to keep my dog happy and healthy.” Well, that explains the amazing skin and overall amazing physique, I guess. A quick scan on the internet revealed that Shannon is indeed a great supporter of natural remedies and loves to meditate for mental health.
With a career spanning more than two decades, I was curious to find out which roles Shannon enjoyed most and why. “I had a lot of fun playing Buffy in Scary Movie. Working with Keenan, the director, was a great experience, and studying a bunch of the movies we were spoofing was an incredible exercise. We just had so much fun filming. I also loved shooting a smaller film called “Catch a Christmas Star”. I got to play a pop star and sing in the movie, which was challenging, and I loved transforming into a musician. I think all actors want to be musicians and all musicians want to act.” As someone who’s watched both movies, I’m telling you, get the popcorn and make a night of it. It’s worth the watch.
These days Shannon spends a lot of time on the ground, working on her welfare, The Shannon Elizabeth Foundation. An organisation dedicated to working with a diverse project portfolio, including rhino rehabilitation and rescue, youth mentorship projects, legal legislations and even land conservation.
To learn more about the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation, go to www.shannonelizabeth.org
With so much good that needs to be done in the world, Shannon is still adamant that everyone can make a change and that no attempt in kindness is too small. “I ran my dog rescue in Los Angeles for over ten years, and there are so many amazing dogs that need homes. People sometimes don’t realize that when a dog is sold in a pet store, they come from what we call puppy mills, and you are actually helping to keep these places in business when you buy.
A puppy mill is often a backyard breeder who doesn’t care about anything other than making a profit. The puppies live in filthy conditions, are malnourished, sick, and torn from their mom at a young age. And the dogs having the babies are forced to have litter after litter after litter. It’s a horrible practice and must stop! There are so many amazing dogs that people just toss out for countless horrific reasons. Dogs get euthanized in shelters every day because they are over capacity. We have no business breeding more dogs to add to that population. Thus, you should always spay and neuter your pets! And finally, if you want to add a four-legged furry friend to your family, understand what different breeds need and ensure that breed is a good fit for your family’s lifestyle. Then go to a shelter or rescue and visit the dogs who need homes. Be open and armed with all this information, and let the dog pick you. I promise you will know when you’ve found your perfect match.”
And this leads us straight back to little Peanut, who landed his little bum in the hypothetical butter!
The 13-year-old Maltese-mix was adopted from North Hollywood Animal Shelter in Los Angeles, California. At the time, Shannon was running her rescue, Animal Avengers, and had quite a few dogs of her own. Most of her dogs were pretty big, but she had one tiny long-haired Chihuahua, Winnie, who was a bit of a loner. She wanted to get her a friend closer to her own size and found Peanut, who would be a great match. “When I found Peanut, his hair was so over-grown and matted that I didn’t even know what he was. But he was very submissive, so I knew he would fit in nicely with my gang. So, I adopted him, got him healthy (he had kennel cough at the time), and then introduced him to the crew. Ironically, he very quickly decided he wanted to be friends with my big pit bull, Katie. So, he never really bonded with Winnie, sadly, but he is genuinely one of my angels and was always meant to be in my life. We have definitely been together before in past lives too. I had seven dogs at one time, but they have all passed on over the years, and Peanut and I have been together one-on-one for quite a while now.”
When Shannon and Simon met, there were some concerns about how Peanut would handle the situation, but those concerns where quickly put to rest. “Luckily, when I met Simon, my husband, Peanut always liked him, but Peanut absolutely let him know that I belonged to him first. Even now, that has never changed. Peanut has so much personality and love to give. He’s extremely loyal, very protective of me, and we’re completely bonded.”
Peanut seems to have taken quite well to the rest of Simon’s family, too! While South Africa is not quite as pet friendly as we would like for travelling, little Peanut gets to stay with Simon’s aunt when Shannon and Simon are on a mission or travelling abroad. “They absolutely love each other! He gets sad when we leave, which breaks my heart (I get very sad too), but I know he’s great once he settles in with her. They go for long walks, he gets to eat yummy food (his favourite pastime), and he relaxes with her while she knits or watches TV. But she’s also very busy seeing friends, and he loves a good trip. So, we just set up his car seat in her car, and off they go! I hate leaving him home though, and if we could find a way to travel easier with him, we absolutely would.”
That sounds like the royal treatment to me! A very happy, bonded family unit who supports each other and work toward creating a better future and life for all creatures. What more could you ask for.