Activism is in her DNA.
As the eldest daughter of actor/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and journalist/philanthropist Maria Shriver, author and activist Katherine Schwarzenegger is as close as it comes to Los Angeles royalty. With three books under her belt, including one children’s tome, the 27-year-old author tackles important topics including body positivity and, now, pawsitivity. Maverick and Me, Schwarzenegger’s third book and first children’s story, educates kids on the heartwarming merits of animal adoption. Using her influence to make a real difference, Schwarzenegger hopes to inspire girls and women to feel confident in their skin, and to be an advocate for the voiceless, both canine and human.
More from Katherine below.
Name: Katherine Schwarzenegger
Where do your drive and passion come from?
Both my drive and my passion come from life experiences and my upbringing. I was raised by parents who had a huge amount of drive and many passions and that made me excited to grow up and discover what it is I am passionate about. Whether that's animal rights, women's issues, maternal mortality, body image, gathering advice for my generation, or lifestyle, I try to work on all of these passions to make a difference. I grew up seeing people around me of all ages making a difference in the world and because of that I always felt that I too, could make a difference no matter how big or how small the topic.
Philanthropy means the "love of humanity." It's so beautiful and simple. What does it mean to you?
For me, that means loving humans, animals, the earth and having a desire to make the world a better place for everyone. There is so much going on in the world and lot of the time we only get shown the negative happening in the world, and its so important to focus on all of the people, on various levels, that are doing so much to better this world in so many different areas. No matter how big or how little, doing anything you can to make this world a better place for the people and animals in it, is so important. Just starting by treating each other with kindness is a great place to begin.
How did you find yourself on this particular career journey?
Really just through living life and having different experiences. I never thought that I would be writing books or doing TV work. I was always super shy and could hardly ever keep a straight face, so the idea of going into a line of work that is in the public eye wasn't something I ever saw myself doing. I did an internship at Dove when they came out with their campaign for real beauty, and I became super passionate about body image and having a desire to start the conversation about body image and not make it something secretive or taboo to talk about like I felt it was when I was growing up. I finished that internship and was so read up on the topic, I decided to write a book proposal and shop it around and that's how I started doing my first book. I felt that it was important for young girls to be able to read someone's story and feel they weren't alone when feeling insecure, lost or confused as a teenager. I started doing TV work because when I wrote that book and went on a book tour, I went on talk shows for the very first time in my life and right away fell in love with everything about being on a talk show. I felt really comfortable and at home and it just felt like something I found interesting but also fun. The same kind of situation goes for everything else I have done in my career; it has really been based on having different life experiences and passions that have made me want to keep writing books and expand my career in certain areas and always be open to new things.
Do you think you've found your true calling?
I think and have found that your true calling evolves over time for a lot of us. For example, when I did my first book, I felt my true calling was body image and helping young girls feel they weren't alone in their journey and struggles. Now, although I am still very passionate about body image and women's empowerment, another true calling for me would be helping animals and being a voice for the voiceless. I wrote my children's book because I wanted to teach kids about the importance of animal rescue and shining a light on all of the amazing animals that are available for adoption with the hopes that when a child or adult gets their first pet, they might choose to adopt. I think as you live your life, you have different and new experiences that might spark your interest and lead you to discover your true calling. Body image, women's empowerment and animals will always be a passion for me, but I am excited and open to see how that develops over time.
Are there any fears associated with your work? If yes, what are they?
I think there are fears with everyone's work and life, in some areas more than others. For my line of work, I experience some fear when I talk candidly about things like body image or my personal experiences because I have a fear of what people might think of me or how people might react to what I say. When I did my first book, I had to decide if I wanted to have the book be more fact and statistic based, or if I wanted to share my experiences and make it more of an open diary kind of book which was terrifying for me. I ended up deciding to make it more of a open diary kind of book because even though I was so scared to share all of my personal stories and struggles from growing up, I felt that if there was one girl who read my experiences and could feel that she wasn't alone in her journey, that it would be worth it for me. While some of my high school friends poked fun at me for sharing certain things, I didn't care, knowing my book could help someone. Sometimes when I work with a certain brand or company, I might have fear that people might think what I am doing is silly or judge whatever it is that I am working on. I would say a place in my work that I don't have any fear, is when I talk about animals or spread awareness about animal rescue. Sometimes I have fear and other times I don't, but when I do have fear about something, that makes me feel like I should push myself, even more, to just do it, because that's how you learn and grow.
What's something you'd like people to know about your job that they probably don’t?
With my new children's book "Maverick and Me", people might think that doing a book for kids is easy but it was actually a lot more work than I thought it would be. I had done two adult books before this children's book so I thought it would be a breeze, but there is a lot more work that goes into a children's book than I expected. I also found it to be super interesting that when I would travel around to promote this book, that tons of people came up to me and said: "I've always wanted to do a children's book but I just never have been able to get it done." I was really surprised at the number of people, some that were even close friends, that have had a passion for writing stories for children and for whatever reason, just haven't. I also like to let people know that this book was in the works for over a year before it even became anything so it takes time and is a process.
What about your career makes you feel the most complete?
Whenever someone tells me my work has helped them, that's when I feel complete. When I wrote my first book about body image, I said that if my book helped one girl feel she wasn't alone, then my book was a success for me. When I did my second book, I said that if my book helped one person feel less anxious and more excited about closing the chapter of college and starting a new chapter in the real world, then my book was a job well done. And with my most recent children's book, I said that if my book helped one dog get adopted, then my book had served its purpose. There is no better feeling than hearing someone say "I read your book with my kids and we decided to adopt a dog", or "I read your book and realized I wasn't alone if I was feeling bad about my body and knew I could get through it", or "I read your book and really got excited about all the possibilities of what I can do after college". Its a feeling I can't explain but it honestly makes me cry every time (I'm also a huge crybaby).
Whenever someone tells me my work has helped them, that's when I feel complete.
If you had to trade jobs with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?
I have a mixed answer for this because of my various kinds of passions, so bear with me. If I could trade jobs with anyone it would be a combination of Beyoncé, Kelly Ripa, and a farmer or someone who owns an animal sanctuary. I am obsessed with Beyoncé and think she is incredible in so many ways and if I could be able to sing and just live her life for a day I would find it fascinating but mostly to be able to have the gift of her voice would be amazing. I love talk shows and just talking about things that are going on in the world so when I watch her in the morning, I think how fun that job would be. It isn't her specifically, just any morning talk show. I would want to also trade jobs with someone like a farmer just to be around animals of all kinds all day every day. I love animals of all kinds and they make me so happy and when you are able to help them and offer them a second chance at life, that's beyond rewarding to me. So if anyone knows a job that incorporates all of those areas, let me know :)
At what point in your life did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the woman you are today?
That to me is a daily lesson. Sometimes I wake up and I feel confident and other days I don't. When I wrote my first book I was a sophomore in college and people would say "where did you get the confidence to do that at such a young age" and I would always say, "well I never thought of my age as an issue, I just felt that I found something I was really passionate about and wanted to write about it to help others". I was raised in a family that always stressed the importance of giving back and making a difference, that no matter your age you could make a difference, and that finding your passion and running with it was the greatest thing you could do. When it comes to topics I am passionate about, I usually always feel confident talking and being a voice for those issues. A friend in college always told me that "as long as you prepare, review and do your research, there is no reason to feel nervous or lack confidence" and that has always stuck with me. So whether I am talking to someone about the latest skincare trend, or speaking to people about the importance of animal rescue and being a voice for the voiceless, or letting a young girl know she's not alone in her body image struggles or gathering advice for people in my generation about what to expect going into the real world; I always prepare so I can always feel confident.
What's the best advice you've ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?
The amount of advice or nuggets of wisdom I get from my mom is endless but here are a few. When my sister and I were little my mom started having us practice positive self-talk. I have a video of my sister and me in our high chairs saying in sync, "I am nice, I am smart, I am kind, I am beautiful." I think that was such a great and cool way to empower us from the start. To continue that, my mom always told me "there will always be someone prettier, smarter, thinner, funnier than you, but you should only focus on being the best you can be because there is only one you and the world needs more of that". I think that was helpful for me to know at a young age and to be reminded of as I get older because we can get caught up in comparing ourselves to others and I think that has only gotten more challenging as social media has become even more relevant. We see people doing certain things (mostly always flawlessly on social media) in their careers, in their relationships, in their travels etc. and we can't help but see that and want some part of that and then wonder why we don't have that in our lives. That can get to be a negative thing because you are constantly comparing and never really happy or content with what is going on in your own life and being grateful for your own blessings. I like to remind myself that seeing people's lives on social media is great but its focused on the pretty and nice parts of life for the most part and not what is really going on in people's lives, and to not worry about what others are doing only to worry about myself.
I have a video of my sister and me in our high chairs saying in sync, "I am nice, I am smart, I am kind, I am beautiful." I think that was such a great and cool way to empower us from the start.
When you hit a big bump in the road, how do you find a new road?
I try to remember that everything happens for a reason and that even though I might not be able to see or understand that reason in the moment, that eventually I will see why I was sent down a certain path. That can sometimes sound cliche and be hard to believe when you are in the middle of something and really having a hard time, but I do think believing that has really helped me get through things in life. I also believe that having some sort of faith is really important in life. Whatever you go through in life, knowing there is something bigger than you and life is also helpful and that's different for everyone.
What song do you sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?
Any Christmas song will cheer my right up but I'm one of those people that likes to listen to sad music when I am sad so I have a full Adele playlist for that.
Photo Credit: @davisfactor