Bonnie Wright Tells Her Story
FROM THE WIZARDING WORLD TO THE WITCHY LAND OF WELLNESS
We were first introduced to Bonnie Wright on the movie screen - growing up in front of the world parallel to her character in the epic Harry Potter films. Flash forward 10 years and Bonnie is still telling these coming of age tales only now they're a little less blockbuster, a little more universal, and in her own words. We find ourselves running into the magical Bonnie everywhere in NYC - in downward dog at Sky Ting Yoga, setting intentions at weekend moon ceremonies, testing tonics and products at CAP Beauty, sipping on wheatgrass margaritas at Dimes. There's a few things about life, about living in NYC, and about health + wellness that Bonnie has so seamlessly figured out to her advantage. We wanted to share those secrets with you.
A JOURNEY IN STORYTELLING
My day-to-day work is storytelling. I wake up wanting to tell a story. Essentially, I was introduced to it before I even became an actress. That desire to tell a story was something I loved as a kid. Recounting things, or putting on little performances. I was a very curious child. The collaboration of film making was something I instantly fell in love with. I also loved any team activity - how everyone's little piece, and everyone's story makes a much greater one. I learned a lot from the industry, and was always very curious to know what every department did. I very much knew early on that my part as an actress was such a tiny, minuscule percentage within the whole creative film making process. I think that goes to everything that I do now. That idea of community and collaboration is always something I'm interested in. Even though on a day-to-day, a lot of my work can be pretty solo, and on my own in terms of writing and stuff, but the minute I do have that collaboration or community, it's always what I'm drawn towards.
It's essential for me now to write something or create a film that will bring people together - to have people watch the films I'm making as a group experience. I'm very much someone who still loves going to the cinema and the theater to experience something as a community. I love what I do because when I listen to other people's stories, or when I watch films, there's nothing more enjoyable than watching someone feel the same things that you do. You know you’re not on your own in the world. Something in that film can touch a cord within you, and suddenly, you're connected to everyone, as it’s a universal thing. And I think what draws me to different health and wellness things is because you're experiencing it as a community with brothers and sisters. It’s always about how the collective can make something bigger and more exciting.
I love film because it transcends time, language, and culture - it can't fade away like a painting can. It's there forever. My first experience was doing the Harry Potter films, and obviously, they are quite fantastical films, but really they are about kids growing up, and learning about themselves. As a child, I was interested in those quieter stories. With my films now, at the moment, they’re about the quieter, more specific moments in time with characters coming to some sort of realization. It’s that human element that keeps me searching for a different type of story.
Going back to that idea of film being a medium that's here forever, I want to leave behind stories that make people feel connected with everyone else, and not left alone, or make them question something further. I want to make stories that make you understand someone else. I want to leave behind film that makes people feel a part of something greater, and makes them feel important.
I very much knew early on that my part as an actress was such a tiny, minuscule percentage within the whole creative film making process.
CONNECTING THROUGH FOOD AND NATURE
Generally, I’ve always had a curiosity towards the healing properties of food. I find that quite fascinating. I've always been someone who's loved nature and being within nature, even though I grew up right in the middle of the city in London. We have a house on the south coast of England that's right on the beach, and I've always had this obsession with going there. Horizons have been a huge part of my life, and I guess you can see my love for nature in my films. They are usually about how nature can change and pull someone out of whatever they are experiencing and give them some sort of enlightenment or rebirth. I've always been obsessed with the refuge that nature can bring, yet also how you can take that within your day-to-day, in the sense that we are nature.
I was at this event yesterday and they said, 'Touch the closest thing to you that's a part of nature.’ Everyone was looking around, and then I realized, ‘Oh! It’s me! I'm all of those things!’. I think sometimes with my work, it can be so heady, with the writing and the city and the hustle of everything. I have to be able to pack all these experiences that I’ve had in nature and let them help to bring me back down. And going back to the healing food stuff, I wasn't interested in it until earlier this year, when I fell upon food as the last resort to help me get well from something that I had tried every single Western Medicine remedy to cure. It’s not that I ever doubted food’s ability to help me feel better, but when I started to focus more on the right ones, I was like ‘Okay, this shit really works.’ I suddenly had new appreciation for food, and I feel extremely grateful for it.
I've always been obsessed with the refuge that nature can bring, yet also how you can take that within your day-to-day, in the sense that we are nature.
I think that the commitment to food as my last resort to get well was about completely stripping back and using foods as they are. People can spend so much money on so many things to try to make themselves feel better but essentially it's a commitment within yourself to trust those things that generally don't even cost that much money at all.
Weirdly, at that time, it taught me a discipline I think I didn't realize I was searching for, but what I was actually searching for, in the sense, was a daily practice.
Discipline, for me, is really hard to find because my day-to-day work is dictated by how I want it to be. If I'm on a project, then that’s what I'm doing for 3 months and I have to drop everything that I'm used to doing on a daily basis. Then when that project is finished, I’m like, ‘Okay, how do I start my day again?’. I think food has a added a discipline to my work, a rhythm to my work that I needed. I was traveling a lot before I moved to New York in February, and I think the reason why my health did get bad was because I didn't have a discipline or a daily practice around it.
And I think consistency still remains interesting, and so many people associate discipline and practice with something that becomes boring, and becomes monotonous. I think if you’re experimental, it can be fun. It’s like cooking a recipe - you can follow the steps perfectly, or you can throw in what you want and have fun with it.
I've always loved cooking from quite a young age. It’s that joy of making something with my hands. I grew up making little things and objects, and now that I’m sat at my laptop all day, any moment I can do something else with my hands, I do. And the easiest thing I can do each day is cooking, even if I’m just preparing something small.
That discipline goes for when I was acting too. It was difficult, and there were long hours. And when you’re going through those teenage years, you can be quite rebellious. But I didn’t have a choice. If I wasn’t feeling well and said, ‘Oh I don’t want to film today’, they’d be like, ‘That’s impossible because the set costs a million pounds day.’ So it was a lot about getting over myself, which I realize now is a lot like yoga. Learning to get over the body, and to get over ourselves when we want to get out of a certain position, or just learn to breathe through it. There, you discover something new. I could sit and complain, and whine, and be a teenager. Or, I could be like, ‘Okay I can learn something from this, and realize that everyone else is in the same boat.’ Again, that is team work and collaboration.
ON LISTENING TO YOUR BODY
I’ve recently realized that I have quite a sensitive body in terms of when I was younger, all the food that we had was cleanly cooked. Everything would be steamed, and wasn’t full of butter and things. When I started to eat too many rich foods, my taste buds changed and I think it affected my system way too much. My digestion took a bit of a beating.
I recently did a 40-day complete detox of no caffeine, no alcohol, no sugar - not even natural sugars. Just vegan for 40 days. Even though it was pretty difficult, it did restart my body. Then I slowly started to introduce things one by one to see what affected me. It’s amazing how your body is the best at telling you things. I think that until you really try for yourself, it’s easy to have all these ideas about what you’re meant to be doing to be healthy.
To me, the most enjoying thing with food is breaking bread and having it as a group. In a sense that if we think things are bad for us, we're going to think about it when we're eating it, and then it's going to be bad for us. If you’re grateful to sit and enjoy food together, then your body is going to take it and be happy. I think that the intention which you have towards food is what makes it enjoyable. The same thing with drinking…everyone enjoys drinking, but if you’re doing it in your home alone, and your work is going rubbish, and you’re drinking wine to feel better, you’re actually not going to feel so great the next day.
We all think so much about quantity, whereas when I did that detox, I was actually eating more food. I was specifically eating more of certain cleansing things because I knew they would be better for me. I think the quantity thing can be quite overwhelming as well, in the sense that there are so many amazing ingredients and superfoods. But in the end, I think that reading your body is really important. You can wake up one day and be be like, ‘Oh I really want this…I don’t know why but it’s going to make me feel better.’ More and more people have now got a great knowledge of what these things mean, and what things are right for them.
I think so often we can feel like we should all react to everything in the same way our friends do. I think that's what so interesting especially with food. And whether or not when you're stressed you get a headache, or when you're stressed your back hurts, when you're stressed you get a stomach ache. Unfortunately some things are always going to be part of your story. Those are just how things manifest in your body.
Even though I work from home most of the time, I try to go outside before I start my work, especially when I'm writing, just to feel like I've gone to work somewhere.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BONNIE WRIGHT
When I wake up, I try not to look at my phone. I usually have some water then I sit down and meditate for 20 minutes. I meditate twice a day, every day. I was taught Vedic meditation, which is mantra-based. People say all these things like ‘drinking lots of water to start your digestive system and wake up your body in the morning is best’, but for me, meditation does that - even though they say it's supposed to make you go into 5 times more of a restful state than sleeping. You’d think your body and system would be shutting down in that restoring state, but I find that when I have my breakfast and different things after meditation, my body takes it better.
After that I’ll have some tea, have a shower, and put on some music nice and loud. I usually make a mug of Sun Potion products, and have that with my homemade granola with some milk or yogurt. Then I will start getting to emails.
Even though I work from home most of the time, I try to go outside before I start my work, especially when I'm writing, just to feel almost like I've gone to work somewhere. I’m like, ‘Oh this is a new place!’ when I come back inside. I also dress as though I'm going to work. If I sit in pajamas instead of pants, I'm going to make work like that.
I tend to go through phases of exercise practice. For so long, I think my association to exercise was stemming from the wrong place - when I was in my mid to late teens, it was entirely about this idea of body image and having to exercise to be a certain way, even though at that age, your body doesn’t really know which way it is.
I would say in the last two and a half years, I finally have a really great relationship with exercise, which is entirely because it's the best stress reliever. That natural release of endorphins is so great. Right now, I've got quite a lot of stress and tiredness from this project I’m currently working on, so I don’t kill myself over trying to exercise. I’ve just been doing yoga three to four times a week.
I can often hit a wall either with my writing, or with my own self. I always had this as a kid, but I would complain about it rather than just do it and get past it. And I think that's the best thing I’ve found recently about yoga. You're in a position in any of your day to day life, and you're just like, ‘I want to get out of this, or throw the towel in...I can't do this.’
Around 4pm, I meditate again. I can feel myself when I'm at my desk at this time that everything is bubbling up and rising and I know that it's time to sit down again. I always used to find that by about 4pm I'd be be fading off my work pattern and reach for a snack or something. But now, meditation gives me so much more energy. Not that I obviously don't still snack...
IT ALL COMES BACK TO NATURE
When you do Vedic meditation, you are given your own mantra. There are about 300 or something mantras for beginning Vedic meditators. Obviously the one we all like, that everyone knows, is Om. They really mean nothing apart from the sounds, because Sanskrit was written through just sounds in nature.
It's interesting that after thousands of years, Sanskrit is still being used, and people have finally managed to persuade the speakers of it to write it all down on these big scrolls. And apparently, the patterns that they made created patterns that scientists started realizing; they matched different chromosomes and cells in our body. Which shows that we are made of nature.
There are all these weird scientific parallels between the shapes that are in these words and the shapes that are in us. They say the reason why they resonate with us is because they're touching natural shapes within our body fabric. Sometimes different mantras resonate more in my head, or in my chest and heart.