Hilary Swank, Actress/CEO of Mission Statement
Can you tell us a little bit about what makes Mission Statement special and why you created this brand?
Hilary Swank: Well, first of all, it is the first ever cross-over brand. In this world where I think people are, you know, fanatics about the ath-leisure-wear, I think it has gone as far as it can. I feel like it needed to be taken to the next step, which is to have high performance fabrics that are also high luxury. You can go from the gym into your day without looking like you are in your workout clothes. I needed that. Every woman I know around me needed that and I couldn't find it. So, I created it.
Another part of Mission Statement is about women supporting women. There's this wave right now, and it is so beautiful, of women coming to work together for the betterment of women. And that hasn't happened since 1920, since women were really working hard together for the right to vote. And I think that before all of that happened, my underlying purpose of Mission Statement was to encourage women to take an hour for themselves every day to work towards their own personal mission statement. And to me, it's so important to encourage that in other women because a lot of the time we're living our life the way someone else has envisioned it. It's about getting reacquainted with what we want to do in our lives, and working towards it every day. I say, 'make a choice, make it happen'.
There is a STORIES section on Mission Statement's site that provides women with a platform to share insight of their own struggles or journey's. Why did you feel the need to share these stories?
Hilary Swank: That's a huge part of Mission Statement as a brand, too. Highlighting women who have persevered through their own personal adversity, which is the most inspiring thing to me. Through my twenties and my thirties, I'm 42 now, I felt so alone in my own insecurities. Even though I was working hard for my goals, and we all have insecurities and we all have setbacks, I felt alone in them because I thought, "Nobody else is feeling this way." And then all of the sudden you realize, we all have those feelings. It's only human. And so the more we share, the less we feel alone in them. I think that's also one of the great vehicles for what you guys are doing and what I'm building and what I've been building in my career, just in general, through telling stories.
Can you talk a little bit about how you found your courage and strength when facing challenges or walls? Was there a driving force behind that?
Hilary Swank: My mom was an incredible inspiration to me because she said to me, "You can do anything in life as long as you work hard enough and you never give up." And that's what informed me as a young girl. And working together with other girls though team sports was super important for me because it gave me the opportunity to work with women or girls towards a goal and encourage one another. Both of those things infused in me a work ethic and an environment in which to support one another and to allow myself to be supported, too, and not be alone through the journey.
Can you give us five words to describe your mom?
Hilary Swank: Gosh. Let's see. Brave. Independent. A giver. Enthusiastic. Good sense of humor.
We talk a lot about living in one's best body and and how important it is to fuel yourself through being kind to it and treating it right. What relationship to you have with your own body?
Hilary Swank: Well, I think for a long time and when you're younger especially, you still have to quiet the voices. We grow up in a world where women are objectified and women are trivialized. There are people who talk about our private parts and that it's okay to touch them and that shapes our society in so many ways. I think it's incredible to see women raising boys into men and teaching them to respect women too, so that it's not just a woman's movement, it's a movement across the board. To know that we're not just objects and that we don't need to look a certain way to be loved, and that we don't need to act a certain way to be successful. That all of it is finding out what your true natural gift is in this world and living it. But it's really hard to quiet the voices. So for me, that's a big part of my life, is just quieting what's not mine and getting in touch with what is mine. And then finding ways to be kinder to myself, whether it's saying, "You worked hard enough, sit down, have that cup of tea, enjoy that meal, don't stand here eating your food, don't get in that car and eat your breakfast. Like, take a second for yourself. You don't have to go, go, go." Because, I have that mentality, that's my own personal thing that I need to work through. There is so much I want to get done in this life, it's so short and my biggest fear was that I wouldn't live my fullest potential. For me to find the balance is important, and that's how I'm kind to myself and my body in turn.
How do you find that balance? Obviously, exercise is a huge part of your life...
Hilary Swank: I exercise, not because it's an aesthetic thing, but because it makes me feel good. It gives me more energy in my day, it helps me sleep better, it's a stress reliever, and when you're really committed to it, you get that. You miss it when you don't have it, you crave it. I would take an hour less sleep in order to exercise because I'll get more energy in my day because of it. But, also, enough sleep is super important. And if that means having to say no to something I really want to go to in the evening, in order to go to sleep and wake up early to achieve my goals, then I need to make those choices. I love food and I eat a lot of food, and I don't deprive myself of the things that I want, but I'm also conscience of what makes me feel good. I can make that choice to eat that bad thing, knowing the ramifications I'll probably be sluggish for a little while, I might get a headache, I might be a little grumpy. And that's a choice I'll make, but it all goes back to 'make a choice'.
Are there any wellness secrets you swear by?
Hilary Swank: I see Oz Garcia (pioneer nutritionist). And I've been going to him since I was 24, before kind of the craze of Oz Garcia. He gives me the supplements I need per my body type, my blood, and my minerals, et cetera. So I swear by him. He helps me to be able to perform in the way I want to perform, meaning that I have brain energy and that I have physical energy to make it through the day and all the choices I make for myself. Including all the travel that I do. But also, water and hydration are key. If the day goes by and you haven't had any water, that's huge. If I have a headache or I'm craving food, but I just ate, I know that I'm dehydrated.
I would love to talk about your Hilaroo Foundation, where you are helping heal youth who have been given up on by pairing them with animals who have been abandoned through Rescue, Rehabilitation and Responsibility Training. This is such a special foundation that you have built. What changes have you seen, not only from the children you are helping, but from yourself by starting this?
Hilary Swank: Well you know that adage where people say, "The person who gives gets more than the person receiving"? I don't know how that tallies up in this particular case, but in seeing these kids who have been given up on, paired with these animals who have been abandoned...By the way, when you rescue an animal, they know it, and they are thankful every single day. They are thankful in a different way. They have gratitude. All dogs are loving and committed, but I see in my dogs, they still have that fear that I'm gonna leave, even though they've been with me for 10 years. I mean, every time I leave, I can see they get anxious. Not just sad, but anxious that I'm not gonna come back. The idea of these kids who have lost hope? There's nothing to me that's more sad than that, other than people who oppress people and what's happening in the world. Seeing a kid give up? Every child deserves a fighting chance. And I don't ever want to see any child say, "There's not a place for me in this world" because of where or what they were born into. That wasn't a choice.
Giving a child an environment where they see a dog, right now it's just dogs, who've been kicked to the curb, like they feel they have, there's an instant connection. And the work that we do between the dogs and the children helps them reconnect to their own feelings. It teaches them about responsibility. It gives them a reason at night to be excited about tomorrow. And it far exceeded my expectations. And it makes me so emotional. Every single time I'm there, I just can't, even the look on the kids' faces. It's like nothing I ever thought I could be a part of. And to see the people who come together, to see the community that comes together to volunteer to make the world a better place for these kids and for these animals, it blows my mind. It makes you feel connected in a different way.
Community seems like it is something that is so important to you, from Mission Statement to your charity...
Hilary Swank: And my career making movies, like telling stories about people who don't live necessarily the way we live, or see the world in a different way. Walking in their shoes and seeing the life without your own myopic blinders. It's really ... I feel so blessed that I get these opportunities.
Being able to have that awareness or the feeling of being grateful for all of your opportunities is pretty powerful.
Hilary Swank: That's what I try to do every day, when you talked about "living in your best body", that's how I feel that I am, when I'm being grateful. I think we get so caught up in looking a certain way, etc... I'm so grateful that I can actually have the opportunity to go to the gym or to go for a hike or to go for a walk. Or put clothes on, you know? Gratitude. That's what it comes down to.
Can you talk about your legacy and what it is you would like to leave behind?
Hilary Swank: Large-scale, I mean through all the three things we just talked about, whether it's telling a story like Brandon Teena from Boys Don't Cry to helping encourage women to live their fullest potential and get back in touch with that? And starting and continuing that movement, like you guys do as well, to encourage women to do that. We really have the ability to help people to change lives. And then through the Hilaroo Foundation, I hope that I can instill that seed of hope back in these kids so that they, too, find their meaning and purpose here on Earth and they are able to walk in that because someone believes in them. So I have a lot of them. Those are the things, since I was 8 years old and decided I wanted to be an actor to when I decided I wanted to launch Mission Statement and then Hilaroo. It was the things that either kept me up at night or I woke up and I couldn't stop thinking about during the day. All three of them. When I couldn't stop thinking about them, that's when I said, "Okay, well, I need to make a choice and make it happen."