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Stuff.co.nz: Lucy Lawless and Intergenerational Climate Ambassadors
24 March 2021

Should Lucy Lawless ever get tired of being a famous TV actor, she’s already thought of her next career – ukulele entertainer to the elderly.

She’s tried her hand at this niche pursuit because, in 2012, she spent three days perched on top of an oil rig at Port Taranaki.

To explain how she got there, it helps to know that Lawless thinks famous people have a duty to use their fame to highlight causes that matter – “something that’s not talking about your freaking lipstick,” as she puts it.

Her involvement in the 2012 Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling certainly generated international headlines – and it got her convicted of trespass.

She served her 120 hours of community service in an old folks’ home, which, in her telling, was a beautiful experience.

“There’s still a lot of people there I go back and visit,” she says. “It was so lovely, and so, kind of... blessed.”

Lawless pauses often in conversation, picking the most accurate words. “They loved having someone come in and play them ukulele. And I had fascinating experiences with the effect music has on people with dementia, and even catatonic people.”

Did she talk to them about climate change? “No,” she says, in a very firm tone. “These people have dementia, they have all sorts of [problems]...” Another pause. “They’re so elderly that I think Greenpeace seemed really radical to them.”

“Whatever I'm doing is my new favourite thing. So, for a time there, I thought I should just give up [acting] and play balloon tennis and ukulele for the rest of my life.”

Lawless is part of a pressure group called the Intergenerational Climate Ambassadors, which features representatives of every decade of life, from teenagers to age 103.

She’s in the middle of the group – 52. She would have been 28 when the Kyoto Protocol was signed, yet, 24 years later, global emissions are rising.

For many years, she’s felt her generation has badly failed on climate. “I really have been frustrated by our inaction. Even though we were born in a time of science, and the science was clear, for really quite a long time, so few of us actually went out on a limb and stood up for the science and the truth.”

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