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Amazing Maggie Grace

by Jennie Nunn

Taken co-star Maggie Grace has a roster of films under her belt, a recent engagement and a fierce dedication to an eco lifestyle

Photo credit: Nick Onken @nickonken

Photo credit: Nick Onken @nickonken

When actress Maggie Grace was just 13, she knew she had found her calling. “I fell head over heels in love with the theatre as a kid, and by the time I hit puberty, community theatre was my whole life,” says the Columbus, OH, native. “I knew it would always be a part of my life, but I didn’t know it was a career option. The first time I met professional actors was at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and I was like, ‘Wait, you can actually do this? For a living?!’”
But Grace, a self-described “drama club nerd,” didn’t let the seemingly far-fetched acting dream stop her. The down-to-earth beauty—who spends time camping in national parks, recites Rumi and reads poetry by Mary Oliver—has appeared in everything from Picnic on Broadway to television series including Lost and Californication, films such as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2, and, most recently, portraying Liam Neeson’s daughter in Taken, Taken 2, and Taken 3. “As a kiddo, suddenly finding myself shooting with Liam Neeson in Paris, and getting to live in a fancy hotel where Hemingway wrote?” she says. “I was over the moon. I really couldn’t believe it. Looking back, I still can hardly believe it.”
The actress, who recently became engaged to film director Matthew Cooke, has also been busy shooting an upcoming film, Showing Roots, with co-star Uzo Aduba, about a friendship between two women in a small Southern town in the 1970s.
Despite her time in the spotlight, Grace admits it wasn’t easy at first to adjust to the Hollywood lifestyle. “Coming from small-town Ohio, I wasn’t used to the city, and especially after living in a tiny Hawaiian town with the cast of Lost, I realized I had to find that feeling in L.A., a real community,” says Grace. “At first glance, it’s just so sprawling, with no real heart, no center. There can be no real intimacy in your life with an hour commute to catch up with a friend. But ever since I moved back after Lost, I’ve lived within walking or biking distance of so many loved ones. That was a real game-changer.”
Grace, who practices yoga two to three times a week, goes hiking with her sister (and baby niece in tow in a carrier), and works out by doing kettlebell swings or Turkish get-ups to stay in shape when she’s on the road, is equally as passionate about the environment and living an eco lifestyle as she is about acting. She drives a “super glam, recycled” 2008 Prius she bought on Craigslist, uses vegan and chemical-free beauty products by Malibu C, California-based company, Osea, and marched for climate change last year at the UN Climate Summit in New York.

Photo credit: Nick Onken @nickonken

“I think it’s time we stopped giving fossil fuel-polluting giants all these tax breaks and goodies,” says Grace. “But it’s not just politics, it’s personal to each of us. To my mind, this is not just a cause, but the sum of all causes. Any belief in humans or hope for what empathy and beauty we are capable of now or evolving to in the future, all of this hinges on this one challenge, on our ability to collectively come together and swiftly address the climate change crisis. I have so much hope at a time when green solutions have reached a point of market parity, and we are reaching a critical mass in the battle for hearts and minds.”
For now, though, Grace is trying to do her part at home (and on her own plate) to make a difference. “I try to opt for vegetarian breakfasts and lunches when I can,” says the actress, who starts nearly every morning with a spinach shake with frozen fruit, nut milk, and raw protein powder, and makes her own mango-lime salad dressing for quinoa and avocado salads. “It’s better for me, and the planet, and cuts the carbon footprint of my meal in half.
“I don’t see it as an all-or-nothing lifestyle. We don’t all have to become dyed-in-the wool vegans overnight to make a difference, but if we can all shift how we think about what a ‘balanced meal’ looks like, it would have a huge impact on our health and that of our planet.”

More Glimpses of Grace

Role Model
“There’s a girl in my yoga class who has ALS. She has someone to help her now, but she goes to yoga four times a week, and joins us in this circle. You just look her in the eyes, and you can’t help but to be inspired by the spirit of this young woman.”
Favorite Rumi Quote
“Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do; there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the Earth.”
Natural Beauty Regime
“I love OSEA. It has really helped my skin, and one of my best friends and her mom started the company out of Malibu, so I trust that their products are thoughtfully made. They’re vegan, organic, and all of that good stuff.”
Dream Collaboration
“I’d play any role in a Denis Villeneuve film. The four-line walk-on part, I don’t care! I thought Incendies was so beautiful, though tough to watch.”
Green Girl
“I always thought about transportation as the major culprit with global warming, but I was really surprised to learn that our meat consumption plays a bigger part: 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s crazy.
“Our wacky, inefficient food system contributes to some 20-30 percent of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation is enemy number one. It is responsible for massive land and soil degradation and biodiversity loss, accounts for 70 percent of all human water use, and is a major source of water pollution.
“But I get it, I’m from Ohio, which is not exactly the land of yummy veggie lasagna or quinoa porridge recipes. I’ve just had to outgrow that idea from childhood (and really from the 1950s) that there’s supposed to be a big ol’ hunk o’ meatloaf in the middle of my plate to count as a meal.”

Grace’s Golden State Getaways

San Francisco “I loved the feel of Cavallo Point Lodge when I was up in San Francisco, and I remember it was LEED-Gold certified, which was cool too!”
Yosemite “Sleeping out under the stars is incredibly humbling. The half-dome hike is gorgeous, and I love the feeling of Americana.”
Big Sur “I love the literary history, and the vast windswept wildness of it all. I just feel so alive up there.”
Ojai “So golden, and I dig how laid-back everyone is. It’s legit-hippie style.”

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