Without a doubt Kristin Davis is best known for her role as Charlotte York on the popular Sex and the City (SATC) series. She has also starred in films such as Couple’s Retreat and has worked in theatre on the West End and Broadway. Away from acting Davis actively raises awareness about the mistreatment of refugees through her work with the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) agency and has established herself as a renowned animal rights activist and award-winning humanitarian. I chatted to Davis about her charity work, whether there will be another SATC movie and being mistaken for her popular character Charlotte.
What brings you to Australia?
I’m with the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees to talk about the bigger picture of the refugee crisis. Australians have made a big commitment in terms of their work, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo with women who have survived horrific violence at the hands of rebels. I have come with Sister Angélique, this amazing woman who has done a tremendous amount of work in a small part of the Congo. Australia is one of the biggest funders of her work. She has also come to raise money to continue that work.
What has made you so passionate about human rights and UNHCR?
In the famine in 2011, these people had nothing. On their journey to find food, they were robbed of their own clothes on their back. I saw first hand the unbelievably integral part that UNHCR plays as a frontline responder. The UNHCR delegates jobs to different NGOs by organising help to people who have already suffered unimaginable violence. I’m able to go to places and see these things so I feel like it’s my job to tell people about the issues. There are 60 million displaced people who need to be taken care of, 83 per cent of them are women and children.
Tell me about your recent visit to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It was really wonderful and amazing and also shocking. In Uganda, where I was in the camps I would help unload the transport trucks. Many people have tiny, tiny babies and they just have a little sack on their back and that was what they were able to run with. You just think about what they’ve been through and they’re so happy to get there and you hand them a bar of soap and a cup and they’re kind of dazed but so happy and relieved. There’s a lot of joy in these camps.
Republic of Congo is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman and is the rape capital of the world, what are some of the shocking facts about the region?
The Lord’s Resistance Army had moved through there and had basically lived in the area for a number of years and had taken all of the young boys to be soldiers against their will and taken most of the young women with them into the jungle. So the mothers have had to face losing their children. Over time some of the younger girls who had been taken, would escape and would come out of the jungle, often pregnant or with a little baby that would be a Lord’s Resistance Army child, and then their families would not want them. What they’ve been through is more than any of us could probably withstand.
How can people help?
In Australia, we have launched the, “I will” campaign. It is about just starting a conversation. A lot of it is about taking the stigma away from talking about these issues. These issues might not touch us directly but globally, they are affecting us because huge amounts of people are displaced and subjected to this violence and rape.
SATC must have been a great platform for opening up conversation about women. How has being on such a popular show helped you with your charity work?
It really just created the opportunity to travel and be exposed to the opportunities to jump in. It taught me about the need for the good people in the world to step up and help because the people who don’t mean well are very energised right now. So we kind of have to step up a bit more.
What was one of your biggest highlights while filming SATC?
There were many beautiful nights in New York City. One time, we had to shoot in Times Square for a week in the middle of the night. It was fascinating when you get to be in a huge landmark place which is somewhat shut down at that time. Even in LA, I remember just laughing so hard between takes, we spent a lot of time just laughing and laughing.
SATC was watched my millions, do people often mistake you for Charlotte and her character?
They call me Charlotte, but almost like it’s unconscious. Just today, someone called me Char.
Do you just ignore it or do you respond?
It depends what kind of situation it is. I was in my doctor’s office one time when the Nurse came out she said, “Charlotte”. I was like, “What do I do?” Then when no one got up, I was like, “I guess, she means me”. So I was like, “How do I politely tell her that my name is not Charlotte?” It’s kind of awkward.
Will there be a Sex and the City movie III?
I don’t know. I hope so… It would be great!
What do you love most about acting?
I used to really love acting. I love the camaraderie of the set. It can be a very fun and creative place. It’s kind of a fun, interplay and creative experience when you’re on a good set. As I have grown older though I feel more driven for my humanitarian work and my work with the elephants [Davis works with The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to help raise awareness of endangered species].
Tell me about your experience on West End and Broadway.
West End was a little hard because I took my two-year-old with me. There were some big challenges involved with that. I got to work with [director] Trevor Nunn and [actress] Natasha McElhone. Broadway was amazing because the cast had an amazing energy as it was a comedy. I loved the journeyman element of it all, getting to go to different places and be with different people.
Will you make a return to stage?
I hope so as I do love it. It’s really what I was trained for and then I just got distracted happily into television and film. But, I love the theatre because it’s so immediate and you share that experience with the audience right there. I would do another TV show too if it was the right show.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Well, I hope that I’m still working for the UN High Commissioner of Refugees and I hope that the elephant-poaching crisis is over and that we can just feel happy that the elephants will survive. I hope my daughter is growing and thriving. I hope we’re traveling together and having adventures.
For more info on UNHCR go to: refugeewomen.org.au
WE WENT TO Flying Fish, Pyrmont
WE ATE Charred storm clams with cauliflower and black vinegar; Oysters from north and south coast varieties; King prawns with dry spice
WE DRANK Sparkling mineral water
KRISTIN WORE Mary Katrantzou
Photography: Louise kennerley