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A Heart to Heart With Bones Star Emily Deschanel

by Jennie Nunn

The Bones star is a passionate advocate for animal rights

Growing up, while most of Emily Deschanel’s friends and classmates were playing with Barbies, she was busy scheming her version of the ultimate, multi-tiered Dream House. “I wanted to be an architect when I was younger. I was always trying to build a Barbie house with things like wood or Legos,” says the Los Angeles native, who appears as Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan on the Fox hit television series, Bones.

Maybe that’s what happens when you get your passport when you’re four years old. “We would travel when my dad would work, and I went to a million different schools,” she says, referring to father, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. “We lived in Italy, London, Canada, former Yugoslavia, and the Seychelles, off the coast of Africa. It’s kind of funny that I found the most sedentary job, and now have to have a job near home especially with kids, and my husband works on the same lot. It’s really wonderful and such a luxury.”

The svelte, chestnut-haired beauty, whose younger sister is actor Zooey Deschanel, is married to actor David Hornsby, and mother of two sons, Henry, who turns four next month, and Calvin, three-and-a-half months. She has appeared in other television series including American Dad and The Cleveland Show and films such as Spider-Man 2, My Sister’s Keeper and Cold Mountain. But, she admits, she didn’t seriously contemplate acting as a career until she was a junior or senior in high school. “I don’t think I considered it as a profession even though my mother was an actor,” says Emily, of her mother, actress Mary Jo Deschanel.

Visiting the animal rescue nonprofit, Farm Sanctuary, where Deschanel is on the Board. Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary

It’s also the time that Emily, a vegan for 22 years, first saw the documentary Diet for a New America. “It shed some light on the conditions of factory farms in the U.S., and how that can lead to deteriorating health and the impact on the environment,” she says. “There are three main points, including the cruelty of factory farms, which is now the norm, and how the animals are treated as a commodity. As a result the animals are treated very cruelly, they are in cages and they can’t even turn around. I didn’t like it that that is where my food was coming from, and I hadn’t thought about how my food had gotten to my plate before that.”

After watching the film, Emily became a vegetarian, with the intention of becoming vegan. “My oldest son, Henry, is almost entirely vegan, and he loves eating vegetables,” she says. “One of my favorite victories as a parent happened recently after we left a birthday party, and Henry said, ‘What is this? Candy? I don’t eat candy.’ I’ve sheltered him a bit when it comes to sugar, but I’m very glad to have a son who loves vegetables.”

In the kitchen at home, some of Emily’s go-tos include oatmeal with rice protein powder, cinnamon, chia seeds, and hemp seeds served with almond milk, raisins and walnuts, and snacks from homemade guacamole to hummus. “Those are just so easy to make and they’re great snacks,” she says. “I don’t cook as much anymore, but fresh veggies are great to pair with hummus.”

Between shooting episodes of Bones along with co-stars David Boreanaz and Kim Raver, and squeezing in spin classes and workouts with her trainer, Emily is also on the board of the nonprofit Farm Sanctuary. “It focuses on rescue and rehabilitation, the animals get the highest veterinary care, and they are guaranteed to live their lives to the end naturally,” she explains. “They have three locations around the country, and we also do outreach and education on factory farms, and where food comes from. One thing I love is that we aren’t out to preach to people and tell them to become vegan immediately. We meet people where they are, and we’re just giving them information.”

When Emily visited the Farm Sanctuary shelter in Watkins Glen, NY, she had a life-changing experience. “When I went, it blew my mind,” she says. “ I didn’t think that chickens had their own personalities, but when you visit, you can see. They are individual creatures just like our dog or cat at home,” she adds. “So many people live in cities these days and so they don’t have the experience of seeing farm animals this way. I’m really honored and proud to be a member and an advocate on their behalf, and we have some exciting things happening. With my work schedule it is a challenge, but I’m passionate about it and happy to be a part of it.”

BONES: Brennan (Emily Deschanel, R) and Booth (David Boreanaz, L) question a yoga instructor in the "The Life in the Light" episode of BONES airing Thursday, June 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick McElhenney/FOX

At home, Emily is just as happy spending time with David and their two sons (they make frequent trips to the park and the public library), and continuing season 11 of Bones. “We have an amazing group of people, and I love coming to work, and reading the scripts,” she says. “We could be resting on our laurels, coasting along, but everyone is trying to up the ante, and to me, it’s really exciting to read each script. They are just making it better and better.”

As for her next role? “I’ve played this character for so long, and yes, and after the show ends, it would be fun to do a nice family drama or a comedy,” she says. “Maybe no crime, and no dead bodies. I did love doing comedy back in the day, and it would be fun to do humor or something. I would also love to do more theater and film. I’d look for something that is completely different.”

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