When did you get involved with Oceana, and why was the shark initiative so important to you?
I got involved with Oceana in 2008, soon after I filmed my first “Scared for Sharks” PSA. It was a natural fit for me because I’ve always been fascinated with sharks. But the reality is that tens of millions of them are being fished from the ocean every year, mainly for their fins.
The shoots for the PSAs sound a little frightening. Were you at all scared to swim with a whale shark?
We shot the latest PSA in Belize’s Gladden Spit Marine Reserve during whale shark season, and it was incredible. I wasn’t scared for this dive because whale sharks don’t pose a threat to humans. They can stretch up to 65 feet in length, but they eat things like plankton. Knowing that added a huge level of comfort; we jumped right in and started filming. It was strangely peaceful.
You’ve visited Capitol Hill to help battle shark finning. How was that? Were you intimidated at all by the politics of the halls of Congress?
I met with several senators, including Senators Lautenberg and McCain, and they were all extremely hospitable and receptive to the issues of shark protection, which helped make it a very comfortable experience. And our hard work paid off: In January the Shark Conservation Act, which Oceana and I were campaigning for, was signed into law. The law ensures a prohibition on shark finning in US waters.
You’ll soon be a new mother. Do you worry about the state of our environment and what it holds for future generations? Are you optimistic about what’s in store?
I’m certainly aware of the problems facing our environment and the urgency with which we need to act. If our children are going to enjoy things like abundant clean oceans and all the benefits that come from sustaining that, like healthy seafood, then we have to make changes. That’s why organizations like Oceana are so important. They’re winning concrete victories for the oceans all over the world. So, yes, I am optimistic. We have the ability to fix this.
Your film career is taking off and Mad Men is still going very strong. Can you tell us how you feel about the success you’ve achieved over the past couple of years?
It has all happened very gradually, which I’m grateful for. I’ve been doing this for 12 years now, so I’ve been able to adjust to the ups and downs and all the lifestyle changes at a pace that’s been very manageable.