Ask Alexandra – March 2009

Question #1:

Dear Alexandra,

First off may I start by saying that I feel that you are one of the greatest natural actress I have every seen and by natural I mean, You never look fake like some of the top actress I have seen. I remember watching Baywatch when I was little and thinking that I wanted to be just like Stephanie. A strong and beautiful woman in power even if that meant I was to work at a beach all day ( so hard to do.. LOL). Life has made changes for me having children before starting a career. But I still look towards you as my inspiration.

But not only you have helped me set my mind o n success, Your sister’s book had a major affect on me.
Caroline’s book about being one of the first female firefighters woke me up and helped me see that my dreams can come true.

My father is a retired firefighter in Montreal, Quebec Canada and it has always been my dream to follow in his footsteps. Ever since I was a child I have always loved being in the fire house, it just felt so natural . My parents never wanted my sister or I to marry a firefighter but never stopped me from want ing to be one.

So I just want to say thank you to you and Caroline for helping me to continue to reach for me dreams.

Mavreen Mc Nair

Dear Mavreen,

Thank you so much for your lovely letter. I will also let Caroline know that her book, Fighting Fire, was an inspiration to you. Her book is an inspiration even if one doesnt aspire to firefighting, as it encompasses the challenges of breaking barriers – our own and other people’s judgments and assumptions; Society’s glass ceilings; physical limitations – and shows how everyone has something to contribute in this world. Caroline learns about her own intolerance when she expected to only see others’ intolerance of her. I am proud she wrote such a beautiful book, which won high praise and much recognition.

Best of luck to you in whatever you want to accomplish.



Question #2:

The following question is about a favorite book that someone would read in one’s spare time. Everyone has a favorite book they read when they have some free time … and away from the busy schedule of their everyday lives. Here is my question: do you have a favorite book that you cherish — and enjoy — the most … away from your busy acting career on your own spare time? And Why? Thank You!!

Eric L. Ellis

Dear Eric,

I am an avid reader. I always have a book I am reading, and this past year I have read almost exclusively non fiction. I do not re-read books, although I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite book onscreen recently: Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader was a very good movie, but it is an amazing book. I also really liked Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, because the message was so powerful to me. A concentration camp survivor, Frankl asked the question: Why did some survive the camps and some not? Was there a specific trait that helped some live despite horrendous conditions? His answer: yes, a higher power, a greater goal, whether it be to live so one can take care of one’s children, live to tell the truth about the Holocaust, live to continue to Jewish race etc. I recently read a very powerful self-help book Loving What Is by Byron Katie, which I liked because it has a specific technique on how to deal with life’s challenges.

Of course, I love both my sisters’ books, Fighting Fire and East Wind, Rain.

Two books I read in high school, The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger was the most honest book about human nature I had read up until then, and All Quiet on the Western Front taught me about the horrors of war, something that has stayed with me all my life. Mark Twain’s The War Prayer is one of my favorite poems for the same reason (it was a poem he authorized to be published only after his death, and even then caused an uproar). Another favorite poem is I Like My Body When it is With Your by ee cummings
because I first read it when I was deeply in love and it fit so well. I like Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken because it reminds me of where I grew up, in New England.

A few weeks ago, I finished a great book by my friend Karen Dawn, which I think I have mentioned on these pages before: Thanking the Monkey; Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals. Written with humour, it is easy to read with a lot of clever cartoons and well thought out positions on the issue.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand tops my list of books, as I learned from that novel that it is more important to be respected than liked, which was an important thing for me to understand when I was 20. Reading the history book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was a huge eye-opener for me: dont believe everything you are taught in school, the government is not always good and honest (OK I read this when I was 18, so you can understand how I was naive at the time. Now, books like Howard Zinn’s
A People’s History of the United States underline that.)

I havent updated it in a long time, but a list of my favorite books is on my site.

Keeping on reading, Eric! And if you have any book recommendations, please send them my way (and why you like the books so much too, please).


Question #3:


I’m 16 yrs old and I am a huge fan of you and your work. I think you are the most beautiful actress in Hollywood and I really admire your strong beliefs.

I recently became a strict vegetarian, but sometimes it can be difficult. It’s especially hard when I go out to eat with my friends. In fact just the other day, I found out that even Cesar salad is made with anchovies! Gross! Sometimes I wonder if I’m being too extreme? I don’t want to make a big deal in front of my friends, but I know it’s important to stand behind my beliefs. How do you deal with situations like these?

Your biggest fan,

Carrie Parker

Dear Carrie,

Not wanting animals to suffer, or caring about the environmental consequences of factory farming, is not extreme! People who eat the dead carcass of innocent animals, risking exposure to Mad Cow, E-coli, and steroids, and who thus support factory farms which dump millions of tons of animal waste into our groundwater, are extreme! It is wonderful you have strong beliefs: I respect someone who has a clear value system so much more than someone who sits on the fence or doesnt care, even if I dont share their values. You are right not to make a big deal about it in front of your friends, but a simple, “Does the salad have anchovies in it?” will suffice. If you are going to someone’s house for dinner, make sure they know your dietary restrictions and offer to bring a salad or something so your host doesnt have to go out of their way to accommodate you. Being a vegetarian usually means just not eating the meat portion of the meal, and loading up on the vegetables (and dessert!). That is not conspicuous. Being a vegan is harder, but alot of things that are important to us take vigilance to maintain. It is important that you dont make your friends feel bad about what they do, and just follow your own path without preaching to them. They are more likely to be open to your behavior and beliefs if you are quiet and non-judgmental. If someone challenges you, explain that, “I prefer to try to walk my talk as much as possible” , and if they inquire further and genuinely want to know, just state a couple facts and leave it at that. Maybe offer a book they can read (I loved John Robbins’ Diet for a New America) or a website to view (see my answer to a
similar question).

It is wonderful that you are 16 and already thinking of the world outside your own. I was 14 when I became a vegetarian, and in the 1970s people thought I was going to starve! Now there is so much good information out there on a cruelty free lifestyle, and more acceptance of our kind of values.

Be yourself. Walk your Talk. Be Kind to Animals and other Human Beings. You cannot go wrong following these credos.

Let me know how it is going!



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