Kristin Bauer

My 5 Minutes with the President

A native of Racine, Wis., Kristin Bauer stars as the vampire Pam on the HBO hit series “True Blood.” Bauer’s films include “Dancing at the Blue Iguana,” “50 First Dates” and “Justice League.” In her spare time she plays the evil Maleficent, of Sleeping Beauty fame, on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time.”

Aside from acting, Bauer has a love of fine arts, having studied it at the college level, and continues to draw and paint professionally on the side. Growing up with many animals in Wisconsin helped to shape Bauer into the animal-rights and environmental activist she is today. She is an active member of the charities IFAW and the Amanda Foundation. 

Robin Bronk: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?

Kristin Bauer: I can’t imagine how full his plate is — mine is pretty full, and I’m not the leader of the free world — but he also has much more help than I.

I know he is aware of these issues and, of course, many more, but an area I am very concerned about is the safety and treatment of our animals and our food. At the least we have the right to know what we are eating with full labeling. Animals also have a right to not be enslaved and tortured, not to mention the devastating effect farmed animals and engineered food may have on our bodies and the body of Earth. The impact of factory farms makes cars look like air purifiers.

RB: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?

KB: Giving him advice on his job is possibly as silly as him giving me advice on acting, but I did participate in electing him and I care about life on Earth. 

I care about what corporations are coercing in Washington for their own profits, often against nature and life. I care about the revolving door of positions between large corporations, who now openly fund campaigns, and high-level positions in the White House. It’s easy to see who these companies are by looking up who gets what job in the White House and which industries get lots of help and a pass on some taxes and environmental protections. They fund campaigns, and one must campaign to stay in office. I get it. Not sure of the solution, as I understand wanting to keep one’s job. But ... life is life and is miraculous, from a blade of grass to the mammoth blue whale, and there is a non-monetary price to pay for manipulating nature to increase stock prices. And the price will be paid by humans. Earth will be fine without us. She doesn’t need us to thrive, but we do need her.

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

KB: The same thing we must all ask ourselves: When does the ends truly justify the means, and when does it not? Can you do mostly good, while being supported by and in turn helping corporations, whose only measure of “good” is profit, and how do you continue to weigh that out? As I believe we all must ask ourselves, in some measure, in our daily lives, if we are to get to continue to sustainably borrow Earth for our home, and also sleep in good conscience at the end of the day.

RB: What book would you offer to lend President Obama?  Why?

KB: Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I think it is an even-handed, incredibly thorough look at our food, with no agenda. Obama promised us labeling of genetically engineered foods, which over 80 percent of us want, according to most polls; and Michelle has her organic White House garden, so I am sure this is a book they would both enjoy.

RB: If you were going to send the president to one place in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

KB: I’d send him to a time machine; there’s got to be one in the U.S. — I’m sure of it, as I travel quite a bit and I’ve seen what a few people are still wearing. I’d send Obama back to meet Thomas Jefferson, who said it much better than I ever could: “Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.”  

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

KB: No way. I am an artist. Period. Plus, my dad used to say, “You sleep with dogs, you get fleas.” No offense to dogs, as I sleep with mine every night. But I’m hopeful that some good folks have skin thick enough to work there — I just hope they also have good memories: of a time of freedom with character.

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.