Monday, December 12, 2011

Inspirational Women in the Entertainment Industry: Maggie Q...

There are many things to admire about Maggie Q. Sure her grace, beauty, and free spirit certainly make the list. So does the fact that she will sit around and eat handfuls of french fries with you while gossiping about her co-stars, and at any opportunity, deflect the conversation from coming around to what she is doing best on Nikita, choosing instead to highlight one of them and why they are cool or funny or awesome. Though she would never say it (because then she would never truly be it), Q is humbler, more down-to-Earth, and more engaging than any Hollywood star with whom I have come into contact.

Surely Q's background working eighteen hours a day, eating cold noodles while sitting on wooden crates, on a number of independent films in Hong Kong lends itself to staying grounded. Moving overseas as a teenager with only a few dollars in her pocket, her sheer resolve and determination allowed her to persevere while sleeping on floors in a country in which she didn't speak the language. More so than most, she really worked for her spot; that kind of "build one's own career from the ground up" (she once claimed she couldn't even touch her toes when she started working in the action genre) is just yet another one of her admirable traits.

Q worked as a model for a time, but she never solely relied on her looks to get her big break, and even more impressively, never fell back on them once she had her foot in the door here in Los Angeles. She still more than puts in the time and effort-- from performing most of her own stunts, even going to work with broken bones ("You know where she's climbing through the tunnels to get pictures of Oversight?" Q said of her Nikita character in a second season episode. "She takes the party planner suit off and she has a sneaking suit underneath and she's got leggings and a tank top on. She lifts the grate and goes down beneath that grate. So that grate was a 4 x 4 grate, literally weighed the same as I. It was about a hundred pounds that grate because it's a walking grate: you can walk on it and not fall. So the grate-- it stopped because there was something in the way, so it was upright. While I was getting myself situated on the ladder, which was this fifteen-foot drop down the tunnel by the way to cement, some mats and stuntmen, it fell. It hit me in the head first, thank God because if it didn't, I'd have no fingers. So first it hit my head and then smashed my hands. I fell four feet and grabbed back onto the ladder, but I was in so much pain that I let go. I fell on top of the stunt coordinator and he caught me with a couple other people. I was on a heap on the floor, five and a half hours in the emergency room.") and then sitting down with writers and producers to discuss the evolution of her character's development.

And at the end of the day, when so many stars with their own shows just go back to micro-mansions to eat gourmet dinners or hit red carpet events to be photographed and/or receive gift bags, Q volunteers her celebrity toward a number of animals rights organizations, and campaigns, including "Best Friends Animal Society," for which Q has lent her face this holiday gift-giving season, encouraging the fans of Nikita and The CW in general to donate.

Q spends a lot of time on Twitter calling attention to abused, homeless, or other shelter animals that need good, loving homes, and when no one can step up, she often does. Recently a little dog named Elf was wandering around a college campus in Los Angeles loose and on his own, and he darted into the street only to be hit by a car by a driver who didn't notice or just didn't care to stop. He was put on the danger list because in his pained, broken state he snapped at the girl who tried to pick him up out of the street. Q heard about his case and felt so terrible she stepped in to monitor his hospital care and try to find him a forever home.


A Dog's Life Rescue explained: "Just when we started to worry about paying off the remainder of Elf's surgery, the wonderful Maggie Q stepped up to foot the bill for Elf's surgery! We're so lucky, now we just need to find this sweet guy a home! Thank you Maggie for being a kind heart and a class act!"

Q is certainly admirable for her work ethic, but this genuine philanthropic, humanitarian spirit takes her to another level, and she is touching lives (both animals and human!) all around the world.

"I was at the airport today and there was a little girl who auditioned to be Young Alex. She didn't get it-- the other girl got it-- but her mother works for Air Canada, so I've met her mother before...and then today I saw her again, and she said 'So my daughter who didn't get the role decided she was going to watch the show and be a fan of the show,' and I was like 'That's sweet' because a lot of the times you [get mad and refuse to watch]. So we've been watching it, and she's been reading up on your animal rights work.' And she said 'I told my daughter, I was like, you know, what do you think?' And she said 'I want to be just like her, and I want to protect animals.' So this little kid now is baking cookies and making, like, little treats and selling them outside of grocery stores and pet stores and giving all of the money to local animal [shelters]. Her mom said 'It was all you. Before that she never knew what her purpose was, and now she knows'," Q recalled, getting more emotional as the story went on.

In truth, though, that just sounds about right. This is one story, from one woman, that Q has heard, but I have no doubt there are hundreds others out there equally inspired and touched by Q's story.
I can think of no one better to be a role model for today's youth. And knowing the kind of woman she is, I can only imagine that that means so much more to her than any Hollywood awards that will undoubtedly eventually come her way, too.

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