Actress, singer — and star animal advocate — Nikki Reed has teamed up with Gilt to design an exclusive, limited-edition dog leash and collar for Found My Animal, which we’re so excited to be presenting on Gilt in a sale which also features her pet design picks. 100% of proceeds from the collar and leash (and 10% of the profits from everything else) benefit the ASPCA.
Here, we got the scoop from Reed on her efforts to help animals, her own (extremely cute) pets, and the latest on her soaring career, which has gone well past the critically acclaimed Twilight Saga film series, in which she captivated us as Rosalie Hale. What we found in her answers, is plenty of heart to go with her beauty and talent.
You’re officially an “animal person.” How did this evolve? Did you have pets growing up? I’ve always felt an undeniable connection with animals. All animals — no matter how big, how small, how wild, how tame. I’ve always found a way to relate to them through their ability to love without conditions, speak without language, and show loyalty and innocence by simply living. I grew up with every kind of animal a child could wish for. My love for animals comes from my mother, who has always had a desire to heal and protect any motherless creature walking this earth. We rescued everything from baby birds to coyotes, raccoons to homeless cats. In fact, although we say it half jokingly, my mom actually lives in my guest house now to help with the amount of fosters and strays I bring in. Plus, I just love having her around and close by. Rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals will forever be a part of my life.
Tell us about your dogs and other pets, if any… I have two gorgeous German shepherds, a tiny schnauzer (who belongs to my mom), and two horses. If it were up to me, I’d have more, but the fosters I have coming in and out help suppress that desire because my house would literally become a farm!
Talk about the charity tie-in here; specifically the ASPCA. How did you get involved there? When I found out that Gilt wanted to be a part of something that related on every level to something I am so passionate about, it was a no-brainer. I have always supported the ASPCA, whether it’s through donations or volunteer work. This felt like a perfect way to combine the two. Volunteering to design a line as opposed to walking dogs is just a different take on how I’m involving myself this time around. I will always do any and everything I can to create awareness and make a difference in the lives of these animals, and this felt like a cool, unique approach.
Talk about your design. What was the inspiration for it? Why did you select these colors/materials/etc.? We heard you were truly hands-on when it came to the design… The color combination I chose felt very earthy and natural. I’ve always been a fan of the “less-flashy” approach. The woven rope felt rustic and timeless, with a little pop of color on the collar to complement it.
How would you recommend people get involved helping animals, in their own communities? Adoption is obviously most important/critical, but what if they’re not ready to adopt? What else can they do? Animals are incredibly therapeutic, so when you think about taking the time to help animals, remember you’re getting something out of it too. There’s something so healing about volunteering in any form — whether you have five minutes to walk a dog or two at your local shelter, or help distribute flyers around your neighborhood to educate people on spaying and neutering, or foster a dog who may need a little extra love. Even my 14-year-old little brother has found a way to involve himself. He walks dogs for an organization that I foster for. We all have the time and ability; it’s about making it a priority.
What’s your spirit animal? (i.e., if you were an animal which one would you be, and why?) A few years ago I visited Botswana, and while I was there, someone told me that I was an elephant in another life. I’ve always loved elephants, and appreciated how “human” they are. Their depth and soul combined with their mysterious and unique personalities is so powerful, it’s absolutely humbling to be around. So I was completely flattered at even the thought of someone finding parallels between myself and these incredible creatures. I even have an elephant head tattooed in white ink on my forearm (I had it done about 4 years ago) as a reminder.
What’s the biggest splurge you’ve made on your pets? I end up spending a lot of money on my dogs buying practical things that accommodate my lifestyle, such as life vests and boots for them because I go camping/boating a lot. My dogs are spoiled with copious amounts of love and adoration … but I don’t buy them ridiculous presents.
On the animal theme: talk about your latest movie, The Sunday Horse. What’s your personal history with horses? What were both the toughest and most fun aspects about making the movie? I grew up around horses. My grandmother bred Andalusians and Arabs, so I got my first horse when I was just two years old. Her name was Laurita. My love for them has only grown as I’ve gotten older, and I always knew when the time was right I would have another. A couple of years ago I started learning to jump, so when the opportunity to play such an iconic woman in The Sunday Horse presented itself (equestrian rider Debi Connor is a legend in the horse world), I was beyond enthused. It was truly the best experience I’ve ever had on a film, simply because I got to combine my two loves: horses and acting. I spent four months bonding with the horses on my film, learning from them, and growing with them, so as the film came to an end I knew I couldn’t part with two in particular. I ended up becoming the mama to both of my beautiful horses from that movie: Millie and Eagle.
Some folks don’t know you’re a singer — talk about your latest project! (Do you ever sing to your doggies… and do they sing along?) I just released my first full-length album with Paul, and we are both so proud of the music and grateful for the journey. It’s called I’m Not Falling, and it’s currently available on iTunes. Our love for one another as people and as artists is so pure, and so apparent in our songs. One of our dogs, Ira [pictured above], loves to sing. She can’t help herself. She always finds a way to include herself in anything we’re singing together, but she also has a few favorite artists. She sings every single Sam Smith song, and you can tell she is really trying to harmonize with him. My iPhone is filled with so many videos of her, I hardly have room for photos!
Are you as addicted as we are to watching YouTube animal videos? Any faves you can share with us? I follow every single Instagram account I can find that has funny animal videos! Nothing cracks me up more than goofy fur babies doing innocent ridiculous stuff! I love the video of the German shepherd asking for bacon, or the golden retriever running in his sleep! There’s also a really incredible video circulating right now of a cat protecting a toddler from an aggressive dog. It’s pretty impressive. I spent an hour just last night watching “animal odd couples” on Netflix. The Great Dane and deer storyline brought me to tears!
— Stephen Milioti