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Kellie McCants is a NYC-based actor who manages to find a balance between her artistic life and spiritual path.  She shared one inspiring, life-altering experience about her work with Farm Sanctuary, an organization that gives life back to animals who have been mistreated on overcrowded, unsafe farms.

Love and Water- What kind of acting do you do?

Kellie McCants- I’ve done a lot of stage, but recently have been focusing on television and film.  I’ve done a few short films this year.

L&W- What are some of the short films you’ve shot recently?

KM- The first one I shot this year is called “Soliloquy.”  It dealt with loneliness and balancing career and personal life.  I did a period film called “Dynamite Thing,” set in in the early 1960’s.  That was quite an experience to go back to that particular time.  The one I recently shot was called “Spare Change.”  I was a hostess.  It was about a jazz artist; a really beautiful piece.  This summer I shot a pilot presentation called “Police Women.”  I had so much fun with that, learning some martial arts and running after people.  I just enjoy working on pieces that challenge me and allow me to utilize the eclectic acting techniques I’ve studied throughout the years, as well as help me find balance in my own life.  I’m a very spiritual person, and I’m open to many different avenues as far as my acting goes.  I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned to to try to get out of my own way and let the work flow.

L&W- And you’re vegan.  Does that help with balance in your life and acting as well?

KM- Yes, it does.  I had an amazing experience in becoming vegan that changed my life in many ways.  When I was 15 I became vegetarian, but I didn’t know how to combine foods properly, or in a way that was right for me.  When I graduated from college I decided to intern at Farm Sanctuary, which is an organization that rescues animals in need.  They have a few different locations, and the one I went to is in Orland, CA.  I LOVED it immediately.  It was on 300 acres, and we lived there, in a house painted like a cow.  We left the farm only once or twice a week to get groceries, but other than that we stayed on the farm.  I became vegan there because you had to be in order to be on the premises, and they had cooking classes for us to learn how to do it right.

L&W- What is the premise of the Sanctuary?

KM- They help animals that have been mistreated or abused because of unsafe farming practices in the U.S.  They house them and nurse them back to health.  So we all had jobs and I did the mucking.  I got up at 5:00am and mucked the farm.  I learned so much about animals and their needs.  There was a special needs animal barn near where I stayed.  There were pigs in there who couldn’t walk because of being in an overcrowded farm and being fed all the hormones.  The turkeys got bumble foot from the same treatment.  So we had to wrap their legs everyday and dress the wounds they had from being unable to move.  We also had feral sheep who were brought over from Santa Cruz because they were going to be air raided, like what they’re doing in Alaska with the wolves- in helicopters, shooting them all, because they’re overpopulated.  We would go out in a jeep and disperse hay to the sheep and the bulls.  There was an incredible healing feeling- you could feel it from the animals.  They were so happy to have a chance to live and thrive.

L&W- Did you get close with any of the animals?

KM- Well we had so many animals- turkeys, rabbits, sheep, cows, pigs, goats, donkeys and others.  But there were these two goats called Alfalfa and Sprout.  They were pygmy goats, and I referred to them as “my boys,” because they were the closest thing I had to being a parent.  When I got there they had been abandoned and quarantined in the hospital.  They were so sweet, and it was my job to move them to the other side of the farm to integrate them with the other goats.  It was a gradual process, but it worked out that my last week there was the week they were going to be fully integrated into the herd.  And there is a huge pecking order with goats.  They were getting head-butted, they weren’t getting food.  I would sneak them eucalyptus and talk to them and promise them that they would get to eat soon with the herd.  They would always call after me when I would walk away- goats do that with people.  And on my last day, I said to them, “I’m leaving, so don’t call after me because I’ll cry.”  And they didn’t.  I was so glad because I was really attached to them- they were so funny and mischievous.

L&W- It sounds like a life-changing experience.

KM- I learned not only about health and how to eat healthy for me- I used to weigh 228 lbs, and I lost a lot of weight after becoming vegan.- but I also learned so much about the unhealthy farming practices in the U.S.  I think it’s important to understand that it’s very abusive, the way so many farms treat animals, and it simply doesn’t have to be that way.

L&W- I can see how this could make you a deeper, more integrated person in general, and lend you a new perspective as an actor as well.

KM- It gave me a deeper appreciation for life.  A richer, more universal understanding of what life is all about, and that every being wants to live.  I think it made me less afraid to go after what calls to me in life, and not shy away from what makes me shine.

L&W- Well that’s just beautiful.

Visit Farm Sanctuary here: www.farmsanctuary.org