When interviewing actress Nathalie Kelley, perhaps best known for her role in the blockbuster The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, you might expect the stereotypical Hollywood starlet (all about private jets and designer gowns). Instead, we met a woman with a lifelong interest in the intersection between colonialism, poverty and the environment. Not everyone is necessarily willing or able to devote a significant chunk of their personal and professional lives to helping improve global sustainability, as Nat has. However, many of us are interested in finding out more about what we can do in our own day to day lives that will make a positive impact on the world around us. Here, Nat shares how her upbringing defined her lifelong eco goals, how events in Australia prompted her to transform her life in LA, fresh ways to think about the food we consume, and some basic tips to ensure we get the most out of the resources we already have.


“I have always been oriented towards justice, and that’s my mum’s influence. She understood what it’s like to be discriminated against (as she experienced in Peru for being indigenous), and she understood what it was like to live in and come from poverty.

Peru is a classist and racist society, with quite strict upper, middle and lower levels, and in my mum’s core she understood these hierarchies are rooted in injustice. I knew from a young age that there was much injustice in the world, and that I was here to do something about it. I am grateful to my mum and grandma for orienting me towards that, and in a way making that my north star. I believe that all injustices towards other people are rooted in our injustice to the earth, and the two are deeply intertwined. We think we can oppress and exploit other people because we first did it with nature and its resources.


The terrible fires in Australia were a huge wake up call to me that the way we treat the environment was the specific injustice I needed to tackle. If I ignored this, I would not be doing the people I wanted to serve any good.

What we have done to the environment is a foundational crisis that unites us all. Whether  rich or poor, we are all going to experience the consequences of climate change. Rich people will feel it less and later, but it’s coming for everyone. All of our actions are interconnected. The way I was eating, shopping, and the lifestyle I was promoting on social media had directly contributed to the use of fossil fuels, the warming of the planet, and these catastrophic fires. I felt so sad and embarrassed, and it’s then that I did a complete 180. Until that moment, I had used my platform in a way that wasn’t in alignment with who I am really here to be. It seemed like the culmination of 15 years of being told that being a successful actress looks a certain way (deals with luxury brands, being flown around the world, sitting in front row at Fashion Week…) I had known at the time it felt empty, but now I realised it was actually destructive. I could never be glad the fires happened, but they did change my life.


I had to get out of LA!

I realise now that at a certain point in my career I didn’t really have any other option but to live there, but it is not a city I would choose for myself. Now, I live about ninety minutes outside of it, in a beautiful little agricultural town. Big city life and the grind and the hustle is not for me. I think it’s not for a lot of people, actually ­­– I don’t think we are designed to live like that. Humans aren’t supposed to always be in fight or flight mode. Working to make the money to upgrade to the next house and the next car is not in alignment with my true values, which took me about 17 years to realise! I have never been happier than I am now in my modest, sweet house. My garden is actually larger than the house, which I love, partly because it allows me to make the most of my newly-acquired knowledge of permaculture, so I can have all the herbs and plants I need. I don’t even have a car; I get around with an electric bike. I am so happy, and feel like I have finally found my groove.


I spent a lot of years sitting in traffic while going from audition to audition and just sobbing.  I am so thrilled that’s not my life any more.

We live in a culture that doesn’t value rest, but instead tells us that we always have to be available and busy. I like to consider the world in terms of masculine and feminine energies, so for me, it’s less important to say ‘I am a feminist’ than it is to advocate for feminine values. Rest is feminine. We live in a world over-attuned to masculine values: to build, to destroy and to fight. That can be useful when it’s in balance with the feminine, but in our modern world it’s not balanced. Now, we need to fight to rest, so we must use a masculine value to achieve a feminine one. We need to invite ourselves and the people around us to really understand what it is to rest, and to leave the earth alone to rest, too. Let it be. That’s a core value in my life right now.


If making your own changes feels overwhelming, I’d urge you to focus on the common ground we all share –food!

When food supply chains dry up one day (and they can dry up at drop of a hat), we will realise we took all this abundance we have now for granted. So, start tuning into your food. First, with gratitude: for the privilege you have to eat today, in a world where hunger is rising exponentially. Then, you can move to curiosity: how was this grown? How did this get to you? Research agriculture in your area. If you’re in Australia, connect the dots between the way we farm our food and our droughts. If you want to go further, read Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu. Start to understand how indigenous people in Australia grew or cultivated or caught their food. Their food systems lasted millennia, and yet ours is apparently going to collapse within a few hundred years. Then ask yourself, which of these food systems makes more sense? The one that depletes top soil, exacerbates droughts, causes fires? The one that is built around shipping things all over the world inside plastic containers, so that by the time it’s eaten, it doesn’t even have any nutrients left? Or do systems which are the result of thousands of years of understanding the land make more sense?


If you’re feeling really lost and also really passionate, you can take a permaculture course, like I did. It’s a way of looking at design, agriculture and our use of water through a lens of efficiency. It’s about adapting to where you live.

It’s a system developed in Australia which is grounded in a lot of indigenous principles. It is more important now than ever to start building a personal relationship with your food. To me, there is nothing more beautiful in the world than eating something from your own garden. Plus, you get to skip out on the complicated supply chain.  If you live in an apartment and don’t have access to a garden, at the very least, you can compost your food waste. Makesoil.org lets you connect with likeminded citizen composters. You can take your food scraps to them, so that your food remains organic matter by becoming soil, and it’s also kept out of landfill, where it would produce methane gas. Composting is the single most accessible act we can all do. I promise you will feel the difference in your spirit and your body when you start composting, rather than putting your food in the bin.


My partnership with WeDo/ began when I started really paying attention to our water.

I used to glug it down and yet always feel dehydrated, so I started to read up on it. I eventually began to drink it slowly, starting with my first sips in the morning. This became a spiritual practice, as there is nothing more sacred for me than water, and nothing that is a bigger treasure in our world than clean water. The access we have to it is an enormous privilege, and I wanted to become more mindful of my use of it, and learn how to make sure others could have better access to a plentiful supply.


I eventually realised that if I was praying for clean water and being an activist on the issue, I couldn’t also be using products that may be damaging the water table.

I did some research and wrote to weDo/ and said, ‘I have been looking for products like yours, that aren’t leaking harmful chemicals into our water table’. It was me seeking them out, not the other way around! I was so impressed that a company operating on such a large scale was already thinking about these problems and doing something about it. I was very inspired by their commitment to using recycled plastic in their containers, too, as we all contribute so much plastic to landfill every year with all of our beauty product containers. In my conversations with them, they have expressed the desire to move to 100% recycled plastic, which is even better, but what they do use now is at least fully recyclable. When you think you’re finished with one of their products, make sure you really squeeze it out to get rid of the last drops, and then you can put it straight in the recycling bin.


I try to be mostly vegetarian. I call myself a waste-atarian – I find my body needs as much protein as possible, so if I’m out to dinner and there’s meat on the table that someone has ordered but no one has eaten, I’ll finish it so it doesn’t go to waste.

I am really inspired by blogger and former model Gemma Davis aka The Compassionate Road. She’s a fellow Australian, and around the time of the fires I got very into her blog and her recipes. I think that, in the future, we are going to look back in disbelief at this time when humans enslaved so many animals to get protein, without thought for their treatment or on the effect this would have on the earth. Gemma’s blog and podcast really inspired me to move towards being mostly plant-based. I am passionate about regenerative agriculture, so if I find beef that has been regeneratively farmed, I can happily eat that meat. I know that animal has had a beautiful life, and has been a part of a regenerative ecosystem. It is rare to find meat raised that way, though, and if you do find it it’s expensive. So rather than following any strict ‘diet’ which is meat-free, I consider the times I get to eat that sort of meat a complete treat and will always partake when I come across it.

When I am cooking at home, I try to make sure over 80% of what I eat has been grown in California. I am very lucky in that mostly I get to eat food that comes from within about 20 kilometres of where I live. In an ideal world, we should all be eating food that is locally grown, and not food that has travelled from another country wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. That’s best nutritionally and environmentally, of course, but eating and living like this goes a long way in terms of beauty, as well. Your body knows when it’s getting the best nutrients, and it shows.”


Interview and story by Zoe Briggs. Main image supplied by weDo/. Additional images from Instagram @natkelley.

Nathalie has a paid relationship with weDo/.

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