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Ian Somerhalder Sinks His Teeth Into Conservation Conversation

Kelly Hanelt, Lizzie Pereira |
April 24, 2014 | 7:13 p.m. PDT

Senior Entertainment Editor, Health and Wellness Editor

(Neon Tommy/ Lizzie Pereira)
(Neon Tommy/ Lizzie Pereira)
Ian Somerhalder has been a very busy man. When he’s not crushing adolescent hearts as bad boy bloodsucker Damon Salvatore on The CW’s hit show “The Vampire Diaries,” Somerhalder moonlights as an advocate and activist for Mother Earth. In honor of Earth Day 2014, the star made an appearance at USC to speak about the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and a crucial call for conscious action. We caught up with Somerhalder after his presentation to talk environmental advice and the causes near and dear to his (sometimes undead) heart. Read below, and try not to drool. 

Neon Tommy: So since you focus so heavily on connecting with students and younger generations, what do you wish you had known about the environment and how to protect it when you were 20 or 21?

Ian Somerhalder: I know what I wish I’d known – A very important friend of mine once told me it’s not who you know, it’s who you don’t know. The idea that meeting people, like-minded people, or unlike-minded people, leads to ideas. It leads to exploration; it leads to amazing, amazing conversations that spawn companies, that spawn movements, that spawn revolutions. Engage, engage, engage. You know, I think social media has created a really incredible landscape for that. Often you find you unify with someone who is like-minded or that drives your cause forward or you meet someone who challenges your views and thoughts thus causing growth and reflection.

NT: Earlier you spoke at USC’s Bovard Auditorium. For those who weren’t able to attend, what is the main takeaway from your presentation you’d like people to know?

IS: Don’t listen to me I don’t know what I’m talking about (laughs).

NT: Excellent.

IS: No, that is an interesting question. You know what, I would be so bold as to say that if anyone takes anything away from this after I’ve been blabbering my ass off for an hour plus, is that there is great, great need for change. We know that. Understanding your power and your value is half the game. And by the way, 50 percent of life is showing up. The fact that you guys showed up and you show up every day to do this stuff is a giant, huge push.

So to those who couldn’t be in the auditorium, I would say your value and your power exceed your wildest dreams if you apply yourself and if you show up. And one other thing is that in a collaborative spirit, the best thing you can do is exactly what we just talked about – engage, engage, engage.

SEE ALSO: Earth Day: Improve Your Wellness, Improve Your World 

NT: One thing we’ve noticed is that being environmentally friendly can be very costly and very difficult for people. So for people who can’t afford top-notch environmental products or lifestyle choices, what are some little tips or changes that they can make?

IS: I hate it that all this environmental shit is so expensive. But it’s changing. One thing is you can obviously try and find those alternatives. Little things, man. Turning off lights, turning off TVs, stop running that water like crazy. Stop just wasting resources. Stop flooring the car and stopping really quickly and flooring the car and stopping really quickly. Things like carpooling or riding your bike. Obviously, recycling. 

But again, instead of just making that pledge, going out and doing. Sharing that information, getting involved in community projects, getting involved with us, at ISF. That’s a huge, huge thing.

NT: Tell me, do you think [your character on “The Vampire Diaries,”] Damon Salvatore recycles?

IS: I think he does now because I think he understands. Damon’s a really smart guy, a lot smarter than me. He’s been a little busy lately, I don’t know if he’s been able to recycle as much. But again, it’s like what I said, you know I think there’s this really cool thing and I had this conversation with Julie [Plec, writer and producer of “The Vampire Diaries,”] which is imagine this interesting juxtaposition of this guy who maniacally kills people but actually wants to protect the world because he realizes man, I’m gonna be stuck here and I don’t wanna be sweating my ass off. Although Damon could really do some good stuff for population control (laughs). But to answer your question – yeah man, Damon recycles.

SEE ALSO: A Sneak Peek At The Fifth Season Of 'The Vampire Diaries'

NT: One last thing – if there’s anything you want our readers to know about your foundation or how to get involved or anything like that?

IS: You know what, man? Go start exploring. We’re actually about to redo the website, it’s gonna be such a visual, cool thing. But just get on there and start really absorbing this kind of information. Some of it makes you really happy, some of it really pisses you off. But it will cause you, like it does me, to want to do something. 

Find whatever  your passion is, even if you don’t know what it is. Like sometimes you walk into a restaurant, and this is a silly analogy, but you walk into a restaurant you don’t actually always know what you want. You look at the menu and it inspires you. You know what I mean? Look at our menu. We’ll feed you.


Be sure to check out Somerhalder on Showtime’s new docu-series “Years of Living Dangerously,” airing Sundays at 10 p.m.

Reach Senior Entertainment Editor Kelly Hanelt here, and on Twitter here. 

Reach Health and Wellness Editor Lizzie Pereira here, and on Twitter here.



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