Zoe Kravitz is best known for playing the eccentric and feisty Zoë in the Divergent series, alongside the late and great Robin Williams. But aside from her remarkable career in film, Zoe has been a committed animal rights activist, advocating for veganism and encouraging people to sign petitions to end factory farming. We got a chance to speak with Zoe about her new film, Sustainability, which focuses on climate change, and how she feels about the current state of the world. What follows is an exclusive excerpt from our interview.

On The Changes She’s Seen In The World Since She Was Born In 1974:

I think that there is a huge shift going on in terms of how we’re relating to the environment. It used to be that it was this massive, distant issue that we would think about at the end of the year, and it would be something that would affect other people, not us. But now it’s a part of every day life; it’s something that we’re seeing, we’re feeling, and it’s something that’s very much a part of our community. So I think that it’s actually made a massive difference in terms of how people are relating to the environment.

How Has Being Vocal About Climate Change Inspired Her To Act?

I’ve always been incredibly open about my beliefs and my opinions, even as a child. I think that it comes from my mother, actually; I distinctly remember her calling me out whenever I would use too many syllables in a sentence! But I feel like I’ve always been a bit of an activist, even though I haven’t always had the words to express it. So I think that it just naturally follows that I would become more vocal and active as I’ve gotten older, and I feel like that’s definitely been the case. Climate change is something that I feel very strongly about, and as I’ve been doing my research and learning more about the issue, I’ve been devastated by the state of the world. We’re literally ruining our planet, and it’s such a tragedy. And it’s something that I want to do my best to change, and be a part of the solution rather than the problem. So it’s just followed that I would make a film like Sustainability, which is essentially a love letter to the planet. It’s a letter to future generations, explaining why we need to take better care of the earth, and what we’ve been doing wrong, and what we can do to fix it. And also just how beautiful our planet is, and how much we need it.

Why Is Animal Activism More Important To Her Now Than It’s Ever Been Before?

It’s such a difficult question to answer, because I think that it depends on what you mean by ‘animal activism’. I’ve always been a passionate supporter of animal rights; I’ve been very involved in campaigns, and supported many different forms of activism, including veganism. It just somehow seems more important to me than ever before, because we’re at a point now where we can actually make a difference. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a race to save the earth—we can be that difference, one person at a time. And it’s something that I feel very passionate about, and want to focus on in my own life; want to be the change that I wish to see in the world.

What Would She Change About The Film Industry If She Had The Power?

I’d love to see a complete shift towards portraying more realistic and complex characters. There aren’t a lot of characters out there that I feel represented me as a person, but instead as a caricature, or something superficial. And I think that this extends to the way that animals are portrayed as well—I feel like we’re being fooled by Hollywood, in that animals aren’t really meant to be portrayed in a realistic light, but instead used as a prop or a means to an end. I think that there is so much more to them than meets the eye, and we’re not seeing or hearing their true stories, which I feel is such a tragedy. I think that it’s up to us, as a collective, to be more respectful of animals, and to stop viewing them as a source of entertainment, or as a decoration; something to look at, or something to feed off of. But instead, to see them as equals, as people with their own stories, and their own feelings, and their own perspectives, and their own desires, just like us.

On Her New Film, Sustainability:

Sustainability is one of the most important issues that we’re facing as a planet, in terms of the way that we live our lives and the impact that we’re having on the environment. It’s something that I feel very passionate about, and in this film, I wanted to shed light on the impact that our lifestyle and consumption are having on the earth, and how much of a priority it should be for everybody to change the way that they live. And it’s a big issue, in that as human beings, we are using up more and more of the earth’s resources each year, and it’s something that will inevitably lead to us not being able to sustain life as we know it. So it’s a love letter to the planet, in that it’s explaining the gravity of the situation, and the reason behind it. And it’s a call to action, in that it’s asking everybody to take note of their impact and to be the change that they want to see in the world.

Why Is The Film Industry At The Heart Of This?

The film industry is one of the most influential industries in terms of creating culture, in that it shapes our perspective, and our notion of what is ‘normal’ and ‘proper’. And it does this partly through storytelling, which is one of the key methods that it uses to influence people. In my case, as a child, I probably would’ve seen a lot of movies that would’ve shaped my opinion of animals, and what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘proper’ within the animal rights movement. But now that I’m older, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel and see the world, and meet so many different animals, I can see how that perception is completely wrong, and how that Hollywood portrayal of animals isn’t just a stereotype, but is actually a way of viewing and categorizing certain species, that is holding us back as a species. So it’s an opportunity to show the true nature and the beauty of animals, as more than just a pretty image or a decoration, and I think that this film, and all of it’s messages and inspirations, will hopefully help to guide mankind towards a better and more sustainable future.