As per usual, our cover models are more than just pretty faces. They are co-producers of an important new film called How I Became an Elephant. This powerful documentary follows 14-year-old Juliette West who embarks on a journey to learn more about elephants in their native land. After single-handedly raising the funs for her journey, she finds herself in Southeast Asia, meeting and working with her hero, Lek Chailert. Lek is known as “The Elephand Lady,” and has risked her life and freedom for more than three decades to protect elephants from illegal trade and abuse. This is the story of two women, one from the East, one from the West, coming together on common ground to save elephants. It’s also the coming of age story of a passionate young woman joining forces with a wise and experienced animal advocate on an enlightening journey of compassion, action and hope. The message: no matter what your age, your ethnicity, or disposition, you can make a difference. As we follow Juliette on this journey, and she uncovers the plight of these magnificent creatures, the film poses the poignant question, “how far would you go to save a species?”
Our cover gal and co-producer of this film, Jorja Fox, is best known for her role on two of the longest running television series ever. In the 90s she played (vegetarian) Dr. Maggie Doyle on ER, and for the past thirteen years she has played (vegetarian) forensic scientist Sara Sidle on the CBS Emmy-Award winning series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Knowing Jorja has been a vegetarian for the past 25 years of her real life, I had to ask how she managed to get to play vegetarian characters in these two popular, long-running shows.
Jorja says that she’s very proud to play vegetarian characters, and although the story lines were not her idea, she says “I did go to bat for pigs on both occasions.” On ER one of the writers, invited Jorja to practice doing sutures. He suggested that she take a pig’s foot home for the weekend. Jorja asked him if there were any other options and he said, “Why? Are you a vegetarian?” He traded out the pig’s foot for an eggplant and asked if he could make the character (Maggie Doyle) vegetarian too. She was thrilled.
On CSI, a situation arose where a pig’s body was to be used to recreate the timeline of a woman’s murder. When Jorja read the script, she called the writer to ask if a fake pig would be used, and he also asked, “Why? Are you a vegetarian?” Once again her character (Sara Sidle) became a vegetarian too. Since then, Jorja’s CSI character has gotten to do some pretty cool things in relation to her vegetarianism, and CSI has highlighted several animal welfare issues including shark fin soup, canned hunting, and dog fighting.
Jorja says that when she met the director of How I Became an Elephant, Tim Gorski, she was on the edge of her seat listening to his stories of living and working in Thailand with the elephants. She says, “I have this amazing job in Los Angeles but I dream from time to time of working in the field. Teaming up with him was a way to support the amazing work he was doing and selfishly, kind of live vicariously through him for a little while.”
The passion the Jorja has for this cause is apparent as she explains, “I cant’ stress enough how dire things are for elephants right now. The poaching issue in Africa has exploded again over the last few years and the habitat issue is at critical mass. People have to act now. Twenty years from now will almost certainly be too late. We have the intelligence and the tools to fix so many of these issues and frankly, people need elephants for their own survival. If elephans go the way of extinction, Africa’s rain forests will be right behind them and the air that people breath will be right behind that.”