#SWAAYthenarrative
BETA
Close

This Hollywood Actress Is Stepping Up To Protect Animals

People

For Jon Mack, saving animals went from a hobby to a full-blown addiction.


The actress, musician, producer and lifelong animal lover, who has spent her life helping animals, has launched a new organization meant to help protect animals from illegal poaching across the world.

“I'm from Michigan, and I was born and raised on a 180 acre farm," says Mack. “I was an only child so my whole life was animals. I always had a bond with them, and they were my friends as a kid."

Mack eventually uprooted from her bucolic background, where she had dogs, cats, chickens and pigs as pets, and moved to Los Angeles to follow her dream of acting and music. Once in California, she began to rescue cats and soon realized that there were so much work to be done to help animals live better lives.

“I would humanely trap and release cats and I learned more and more about how animals there were out there without homes," says Mack, who adopted two stray kittens from the street. “They were few weeks old hiding in tree. They were feral so at first you couldn't even touch them. Now they are the biggest babies. I've had them for nine years, and they are what got me into helping more animals."

Mack, who is the lead singer for electronic rock band, Auradrone, says she soon found herself addicted to animal rescuing. She next became involved in Heaven On Earth, which was founded by Seth McFarlan's mother, Perry, who is also a passionate animal rescuer.

“They take in every cat, old or young and are no-kill," says Mack, who sits on the organization's celebrity board. “I have been an ambassador for Heaven on Earth for several years now. Not only have I adopted some of my own from them, I have helped also raise awareness for the great work they do. I love that they will take high risk cats and give them forever homes regardless of their health issues or whether someone adopts them or not. These are good people doing good things."

Mack's desire to help animals intensified in 2012 when she visited Thailand and spent time with elephants. During that trip Mack said she was horrified at seeing beautiful rare animals for sale at the market. After doing research, Mack became more aware of the poaching crisis over the past few years and decided to do something about it.

“I really bonded with elephants in Thailand and one in particular I took care of for several days. This is where I saw the majesty and high intelligence in these creatures," says Mack. “I've traveled to many places with colorful eco-systems and varied wildlife such as Brazil, Costa Rica and Bali to name a few. Part of my incentive to take any trips these days has to do with what kind of wildlife there is and what I can learn from it."

The more Mack dug, the more she saw the corruption that is deeply embedded in countries where poaching is at record numbers.

With only between 2,000 and 3,000 rhinos left in the world as of 2016, Mack is focused on working with various animal-protecting organizations in South Africa, which is the worst offender in the poaching industry, to develop new technology that would help protect rhinoceroses. Mack is looking to raise funds to help this and other charitable initiatives.

“The South African government refused to publish numbers this year," says Mack. That means it's bad and they know it's bad. Everything has gotten so corrupt. It's such a huge trade. These countries demand the ivory or rhino horns for 'medicines' that don't actually work. It boils my blood. It's all for superstition or little knick knacks no one needs. They are getting more sophisticated. There is big money behind them. They are basically militarized."

According to Mack, just one rhino horn can go for $20K to $40K and possibly much more on the black market, which traffics them from countries like South Africa into countries like China.

“I thought I want to do something against poaching and trophy hunting," says Mack. “ If nothing is done we will lose rhinos and elephants in five to 10 years. The governments turn a blind eye to it. Poachers get a slap on the wrist."

“I'm so concerned that we are going to lose these species that we take for granted; that our children and grandchildren will only see them in picture books. That scares me."

In order to fix this immense problem which plagues our world, Mack is focused on education and exposing the trade.

“I think education is the number one thing that needs to happen now," says Mack. "People in South Africa know what is happening but people don't realize how bad it is. I want to educate people so that they realize how serious it is."

Mack, who has two films, MindBlown and Doomsday Device, coming out later this year, also has released a music video for her band, called Weapon Of Choice, meant to help raise awareness. Mack says she worked with a director to come up with a concept about poaching that could ring true to people who watched it.

“The video puts people in the place of animals," says Mack. “We did the video I thought this is powerful and different. I wanted to make an impact with art."

In 2015, Mack took her love for animals a step further, by creating and launching her own organization, Defending The Endangered, which she describes as a “collective of artists" who donate their time and money to protecting and rescuing animals. Throughout the year members help raise money for various animal-oriented charities like the Rhino Rescue Project and the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit. On March 25, Mack will throw her first charity's first celebrity gala, meant to celebrate those making a difference in the lives of animals, and to raise more capital to support organizations that do.

“I wanted to gather creative and compassionate people together and use all of our unique talents to raise awareness as well as donate our gifts to raise much needed funds for various charities working to protect and rehabilitate endangered animals," says Mack. “Defending the Endangered is all about joining together creatives, passionate animal lovers and thinkers all over the world to make art and create events that will not only raise awareness, but celebrate those who have gone above and beyond in their own way to protect threatened species on this planet."

According to Mack, who describes herself as heartbroken by what has happened thus far, yet hopeful that a new generation will step up to the plate, is especially focused on investing in technologies that will help.

“We are working with Rhino Rescue Project at the moment and they have created a new dye that is injected into the rhino's horn without harm to the animal," she says. "This dye makes the horns set off radiation detectors so this makes is much more difficult for even higher level travelers to smuggle horns out of the country. This will be a deterrent and hopefully save several rhinos from being sought out for their horn and murdered. This has to stop and it has to stop now."

Our newsletter that womansplains the week
4min read
Lifestyle

Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."