COVER: Stephanie Corneliussen is Plant-Based
Stephanie Corneliussen is fierce, she takes on bad ass roles, is jaw droopingly beautiful, oh, and she has a heart of gold. Certainly one that gets all mushy as soon as she is around adorable animals! Because of her love of animals and awareness of the effects the meat industry has on our planet, Stephanie has gone completely plant-based, and helps to inspire others to do the same. Jejune had the pleasure to work with her and her charmingly little furry friend, Gimlet — who we believe this is his first cover. I assume many more to come. To learn more about this strikingly fascinating and exquisite woman, and her experiences being plant-based, please read our exclusive interview below.
Where are you based?
Copenhagen and Los Angeles.
You were a model before going into acting. How did you start modeling?
I was discovered by chance, at the ‘Supermodel of Scandinavia’-contest and won.
What inspired you to start acting instead?
The performing arts was always the goal; this is where I subsist.
What was it like playing the intense Joanna Wellick on USA’s Mr. Robot?
It was challenging, fun, and educational, both artistically and personally. It was my first major role, I learned a lot as an actor, as an artist, about myself, and the industry.
You are currently on Legion. How does it feel to play Gabrielle Xavier, Professor X’s wife?
I have a lot of respect for Gabrielle. To me she’s a superhero in her own right. She’s a woman who juggles mental illness, motherhood, and though she is fictional, she’s written with a traumatic backstory full of pain and injustice, that she shares with real victims and survivors of historical genocide. I felt a huge responsibility to portray her, and that aspect of her life, with the utmost respect.
It is very powerful that Legion covers her mental illness. Do you feel that mental health is looked at enough in our media?
I don’t think it’s looked at with the objectivity, or gravitas it deserves, not in the media, not within our society. For years, we’ve ignored Mental Health and treated Mental Illness by stigmatizing it. And now that we’re finally talking about it publicly, we treat it as this ‘concept’ that no one is given opportunity to responsibly explain. And while we do have qualified professionals who could educate the general public on mental health, the media isn’t covering their expert opinions. They rather cover and share personal opinions provided by social media and pop culture.
Now, I’m not a doctor, but I know this: Mental Health is the overall condition of your health, just as Physical Health. Mental Illness is a term for underlying condition(s), diagnoses, an umbrella term. You can be diagnosed with cancer or you can be diagnosed with a cold, two extremely differing ailments of severity under the term Physical Illness. Same goes for Mental Illness. You can be diagnosed with anxiety or you can be diagnosed with psychopathy. Again two very different diagnoses, very different effects on self and society — but the media, our information source, treats Mental Health and Illness as the same, and Mental Illness as a diagnosis in itself. Society, therefore, thinks that Mental Illness is a synonym for being crazy. That’s sad. And stupid. No wonder most people can’t keep up. Point is, there are countless diagnoses, and like most Physical diagnoses, unless chronic, they can be treated and cured — some by means of medication, some by means of therapy, and/or meditation. There are a lot of different tools and approaches, whatever works for you.
What won’t work - is stigmatizing, ignoring it and shaming and misinforming the public.
You are a big LGBTQ advocate. Why is this so important to you?
I am an advocate, but more so, it is my fundamental belief, that everyone deserves to live and love freely.
I’m bisexual, grew up in a liberally progressive country, and in a society and family where gender roles, hetero-conformity and homophobia wasn’t practiced or accepted. I’m an advocate because I believe my privilege should be the norm.
You are also vegan. How long have you been vegan and what made you decide to go vegan? Any tips for others making the change?
It was transitional. It’s been some years now. I was inspired by my cousin, motivated by the positive change it has on the environment, driven by my love for animals, and encouraged by the affects it has had on my physical health.
There are so many amazing options for people wanting to transition into, or try out, a vegan/plant based lifestyle today. Social media offers a slew of amazing plant based chefs, designers and products, and if you’re into animal rights/welfare I suggest following some of the big non-profit organizations like Mercy For Animals or Animal Equality.
You try to avoid all animal products, including only using vegan makeup and no clothing made from animals. Do you find this to be challenging when you are on set?
Not at all. In my experience, most people, including my coworkers in the industry, costume designers, make up artists, etc., have been very accommodating and actually excited to ask questions about vegan options. In my experience, most people want to learn, want to know more, they just don’t want to feel judged or preached to.
You have three cats. Can you tell us about them?
My babies! Marley is nine. We adopted him from the West LA shelter in 2012. Sebastian and Zappa were rescued through Karma Rescue (formerly Molly’s Mutts and Meows) in 2014 and 2015. They mean everything to me.
What changes would you like to see in this country and world to help animal rights?
I would love to see a change in perception. We’re conditioned into accepting the idea that animals serve us, in our society - and there’s a lot of money, that go into making sure that we keep seeing it that way. It makes me sad. I don’t subscribe to the notion that I’m superior to anyone or anything else. In a perfect world, I wish for cohabitation, for animals and humans.. but also for humans and humans.
There are many changes I would love to see overnight, but that would be setting myself up for massive frustration; it’s progress over perfection, I keep reminding myself of that. And even though it seems that current conditions are opposing that hope, huge progress has been made for animal rights and welfare, thanks to people willing to change their perception, and to the people who choose to dedicate their time and lives to the betterment of Animal Welfare and protection of Animals rights.
What’s on the horizon for Stephanie Corneliussen?
Just taking one day at a time.
What is your motto in life?
I have a pretty eclectic collection of mottos and mantras; I adjust them according to my current mental state. At the moment it’s: ‘this too shall pass’, originally, I believe, a Persian saying.