One thing you’d be surprised to learn about Kristin Davis is that she’s an excellent camper.
This wouldn’t be such a shock if Davis wasn’t best known for playing “Sex and the City’s” resident Park Avenue Pollyanna, Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, a character whose idea of roughing it is swap her trademark flouncy skirts, cardigan sets and pearls for jeans and T-shirts. But unlike the reformed WASP she played both on television and on the silver screen, Davis herself has a much freer spirit.
She is a former yoga instructor with a major case of wanderlust and a thirst for exploring the unknown. It was an insatiable love of travel that prompted the now 48-year-old actress to ditch her Manolos, slap on a pair of hiking boots and embark on a solo safari in 2001. But it was her return trip to Kenya in 2009 and a hands-on experience rescuing an elephant calf that made Davis realize that her mission in life was the protection of endangered elephants.
“Elephants are under extreme, extreme attack. They will not be in the wild in ten years if we don’t do something. It is a war out there, a war on elephants!” Davis exclaims passionately. As she speaks, her eyes get wider, her words quicker. Her hands resemble well-manicured windmills as they slice through the air to emphasize her point. “I’m doing everything I can do!” she vows. “It’s shocking. Elephants have no predators other than human beings. There used to be 25 million roaming the continent of Africa, but that number has diminished because people love ivory, and even though it’s illegal, there’s a black market that has been able to thrive because of loopholes in the law that say you can sell ivory as long as it was taken before 1989, which is when ivory became illegal. But nobody tests it. Nobody tests it!” Davis’ devotion didn’t materialize out of thin air. She has always had an affection for pachyderms, though wasn’t proactive in their preservation until recent years. In particular, it was rescuing baby Chaimu from the lava slopes of the Chyulu Hills in 2009 that made Davis a defender. The rescued calf was brought to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an elephant and rhino rehabilitation center. It was there that the actress struck up a friendship with Dame Daphne Sheldrick, a formidable woman who founded the wildlife conservatory in memory of her late husband, David Sheldrick.
“I certainly intellectually feel like I’d like to have another romantic relationship, but I don’t know how to make the day-to-day of it happen. I don’t have time!”
Davis very nearly opted to leave Hollywood behind to work more closely with the organization, but her fans can thank the Sheldricks for convincing her otherwise. “I really want to quit acting and move [to Kenya], but they’re telling me that I can’t because they need me to be famous so people will listen to me,” she laughs. “And when I mean ‘them,’ I mean three generations of family: Dame Daphne, her daughter Angela, her husband and their son, who’s an environmentalist in the making. This is their life 24/7.” Davis has made their protection her life, as well. Not only has she marched and spoken on behalf of the mammals at the International March for Elephants this past October in New York City, but she has also made substantial donations to the Trust. “I’m doing everything that I can do,” she promises. “I have donated in a very significant manner. Technically, I have adopted [all of the elephants in the Trust]. I am committed to trying to raise money and helping this family.”
She adds wistfully, “I wish I could let everybody know what it’s like, what it’s like to be around them, but I know that not everyone can go to Africa, so I’m incessantly posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook, and people are like, ‘Can you please stop posting about elephants?’ But I can’t stop! I want people to be able to share in my experience. These are beautiful, innocent animals. If we lose elephants, it will be a huge loss for humankind.” One of the reasons she feels such a kinship is in the way elephant relationships mirror those of humans. “An elephant and its baby touch every three seconds. It’s attachment parenthood in the full like we have in LA! Their families mimic our families; their ages mimic our ages. Their babies stay with the mommies similar to how humans do,” she explains. Now that she’s a mother herself, Davis can identify. She adopted daughter Gemma Rose domestically in 2011, and, much like an elephant cow, she’s loath to be away from her little one. “The greatest luxury is being home in the morning when my daughter wakes up and not have to go anywhere,” she says. “My ultimate favorite day is not getting out of my pajamas. I have a beautiful home, a beautiful yard and a lot of food. If Gemma and I could just be there, I could probably go a long time without leaving.” Her love for her daughter and dedication to being a mom makes it hard to even part for mandatory reasons, like work. Davis is returning to TV in 2014 to star on CBS’ “Bad Teacher,” which is based on the 2011 film of the same name. Her participation in the series will mark her first full-time return to television since “Sex and the City” wrapped in 2004.
“It’s a good departure. I’m excited to do it, I guess,” she says, though she is clearly conflicted by the dilemma of leaving Gemma Rose for too long. “You know, it’s so sweet. I’m really lucky to have a job, but I have a two-year-old, and I’ve really been in mommy mode, which is separate from my charitable self [in addition to her work with the elephants, she is also an ambassador for Oxfam, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and a supporter of P.S. Arts] and sometimes it’s hard to do all three. I think, ‘I’m stuck on set and I don’t want to be stuck on set, I want to be with my daughter,’ so it’s an adjustment. I know every working mother everywhere has this issue so I try to tell myself to calm down.”
“I’ve done the best TV there is: I’m spoiled rotten. The experience will never be eclipsed, and it was hard to commit again because I’ve already had the greatest.”
She continues, “Gemma takes up such a big, big part [of my life] in such a wonderful way. Like take going to work: it used to be really important to me, but now I’m like, ‘OK, I’ve got to go to work. All right. I used to be like, ‘I want to go to work, I want to go to work!” However, the offer to appear in the Cameron Diaz-produced series was too good an opportunity to pass up, so Davis signed on. She will appear as Ginny, an uptight “good teacher” who is the antithesis of lead Ari Graynor’s sexy, foul-mouthed divorcée, a woman who becomes a teacher only in order to find her next husband. “I’m happy to have a job and it’s not a hard schedule, which is how [CBS] talked me into it, because I wasn’t looking to do TV again,” Davis says. “I’ve done the best TV there is: I’m spoiled rotten. The experience will never be eclipsed, and it was hard to commit again because I’ve already had the greatest.” The actress is, of course, referring to Sex and the City, the HBO series about the lives and loves of four fashion-focused friends in the Big Apple that made her an international style icon. Given that the first two films grossed $247,994,950 domestically, it would only make sense that a third should follow. However, moving forward will be difficult given that its stars are so divided as to whether a third film should even be made: while Davis and co-star Sarah Jessica Parker would love to see the gals back in the city, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon are over Sex; the latter saying “I think it’s fine to let it go.”
This does not sit well with Davis. “I’m going to have a little talk with Cynthia the next time I see her!” she says, adding, “I don’t think [a third film] is a pipe dream, there is discussion. People talk about it amongst the people who are the players, but I don’t know if it will come together. It would be very exciting if it did.” Davis has a similarly laissez-faire attitude about her own love life, mostly due to the fact that her daughter now takes precedence in her life. “I certainly intellectually feel like I’d like to have another romantic relationship, but I don’t know how to make the day-to-day of it happen. I don’t have time!” she laughs, before musing thoughtfully, “It has to be someone so awesome that I would bring him in and potentially share time with Gemma. Previously in life, stability has not been that important to me in a relationship or a man. I had my own independence, my own stability within myself. I wasn’t looking for a man to be stable. It wasn’t in my fantasy. I was looking for adventure. I love creative people and those are the people I’ve been with. Those are the qualities I’ve been drawn to in the past. “Now I have a baby and I have to put her first and think about what she needs, and stability is a huge, huge part of that. So that means those qualities would have to be important in a man, and I don’t know what that looks like, honestly. I do have friends who have stable marriages and I look at them and admire what they have, but I don’t necessarily think I’ve ever had that kind of relationship.”Davis’ exes have reportedly included Alec Baldwin, “Homicide” star Reed Diamond, Liev Schreiber and, most recently, “The Newsroom” creator Aaron Sorkin; the couple called it quits in August of last year. While speaking of a former boyfriend, though not specifying whom, Davis says, “My ex used to say ‘Don’t be so independent!’ I’d be like, ‘What does that mean?’ He’s say ‘Let me pay for a cab’. I’d say ‘OK’. In a lot of ways, I am [independent] and men don’t like that.” She adds, “I don’t know that I necessarily totally intended to [still be single], though I do remember being young and thinking, ‘Why are all these people getting married?’ But I’m an actress – I’ve never exactly been the status quo.”