My name is Alexandra Johnston. My day job is working as a talent manager for actors and although I love my job, my true passion is as an activist for marine life, the environment and making documentaries surrounding these subjects. I have always had a deep love for the ocean and everything that inhabits it.
Read our interview below to learn more about Alexandra and her passion of being an activist – most importantly what we can do to help!
How did you get started on your vegan journey?
Journey is the best way to describe it and everyone has a different one. For me, I have never eaten fish. The thought of taking something from the ocean and eating it never sat well with me. But as I grew older and began my activist journey with dolphins etc. I started to educate myself and really look at the products I was using and the food as I was consuming, realizing a lot of it had negative impacts on both animals and my health, so little by little I made changes.
Elaborate on your animal welfare journey, how did you get started and what have you worked on in the past to make you want to continue.
It really began after I watched a documentary called The Cove, this is a documentary about the brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan – the hub of the captive industry. I have loved dolphins for as long as I can remember and immediately started attending protest and became a volunteer for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project. Ric has become a mentor and friend and empowered me to use my voice for what I believe in.
Once joining Dolphin Project, I volunteered to go to Taiji and act as their lead cove monitor. I was in Taiji for two months documenting and live streaming the slaughter and captures of these magical mammals. Each day I woke at 4 am and watched the hunting boats leave in search of dolphins. This was one of my biggest tests to date both mentally and physically, but it also made me realize my commitment to this subject and know that I am in this for the long haul.
Can you tell us about the documentary you are working on and why you felt it was important to share this story?
Hands down my favorite movie is Free Willy (I’m not even ashamed to admit it) this really kick-started my love affair with Orca’s. It had always been my dream to see them in the wild. In 2016 I was working as a volunteer for dolphin project at an event called super pod on San Juan island… also the home to the southern resident orca. I was having the most magical time watching the social behaviors between the orcas, Breaching, Spy hopping, all the things I had hoped to witness. After this trip, I revisited the island again with a client and friend Maisie Williams. Again, we had the most incredible experience, but whilst we were out on the water our captain noticed a small calf was not with his mother, J52. This was when I started asking questions and realized that it wasn’t all as magical as I thought, and the remaining 75 southern residents were in fact on the verge of extinction and the majority are chronically malnourished, starving due to a lack of their primary food source, Chinook salmon. J52 was declared dead at the age of 2 and that just broke my heart. I began thinking of what we could do to help and ‘Searching for Chinook’ was born.
I asked my fellow activist Maria if she wanted to join this journey and thankfully she said yes and has helped every step of the way. I set up a kick-starter to fund the documentary and received a generous donation from Dolphin Project and 4oceans. We spent 3 months on San Juan island during summer and documented the ups and downs of this orca family and the reasons why their food source is scarce.
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What was it like filming this documentary and when can we watch it?
Filming Searching for Chinook was an intense experience. We based ourselves on the island for 3 months and emerged ourselves in all the problems the Orcas were facing. The difficulty is that there isn’t one simple solution to fix their depleting numbers and food source. Which was frustrating to learn the issues and film at the same time. Like with any documentary you never fully know what will happen during filming and filming these endangered species was not an easy task. We are now in post-production and it’s looking promising for release this year.
Why do you think people should care more about animals and environment in 2019?
We are at a stage now where we are witnessing the effects of the neglect we have shown the planet and animals. We are losing precious species such as the southern residents and the rhino and watching water levels rise due to global warming. By going cruelty free you are helping the animals and environment in more ways than you can imagine.
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Can you share with us a few more details on Dolphin Project?
Dolphin Project is a non-profit charitable organization, dedicated to the welfare and protection of dolphins worldwide. Founded by Ric O’Barry on Earth Day, April 22, 1970, the organization aims to educate the public about captivity and, where feasible, retire and/or release captive dolphins. I have been volunteering with them for nearly 6 years and we still have so much more work to do!