Moves Power Women Alumnae Maggie Q is not just another one of those Hollywood luvvies who say all the right things then do none of them. A strict vegan, her animal rights activism comes bang-in from the 21st century with her support for PETA, WildAid, Animals Asia and many others. But she also campaigns against world climate change and the effect and costs of farming animals for food. She still finds time to start a clothing line to recycle plastics from the sea and indeed “Save The Whales.” All this and her movie career continues to flourish!
By Moonah Ellison
Photography by Yoni Goldberg
Maggie Q is on the go. Hustling, moving from one place to another. She was just in Europe wrapping up production after COVID put it on hiatus, just being able to finish up now. These are the days. It’s a movie called The Asset, a thriller with Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson, about a young girl who was raised by Jackson’s character and become partners in crime meeting their match in Michael Keaton. Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale and Golden Eye), the release date is looking like April 2021.
I catch up with Maggie in Los Angeles, trying to hold up during these unprecedented times. At the beginning of the year she just finished filming in Romania for three months and then London and her plan was to come home to Cali in March and just recover, which usually takes her a couple of months. When she arrived, lockdown started a couple days after she landed. “It’s just so devastating to see how many people are affected [by COVID] so that brings you down and you’re down about that, you’re down everyday. But my life, you know, hasn’t really changed in terms of the logistics, I’m still at home. I still work out of home.”
Maggie Q has been in the industry for 20+ years with starring roles in films like Mission: Impossible III (2006), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), and the science-fiction films Divergent (2014), Insurgent (2015) and Allegiant (2016). Maggie also starred as the title role on The CW action-thriller series Nikita (2010–13), and had a main role in the political thriller series Designated Survivor (2016–19).
But it’s Maggie’s love for the environment—ocean conservation specifically—that is her true calling. At the end of last year, Maggie created QeepUp, a company that makes activewear from recycled plastic. There was a soft launch at the end of last year and a hard launch at the beginning of 2020 right around when COVID struck so it’s been incredibly challenging.
“I never wanted a business,” admits Maggie. “I never really wanted to be a businesswoman in that sense. Two reasons why I wanted to start QeepUp, one was to be a resource to take plastics out of our oceans and be able to turn them into a commodity. And then the other thing was, I wanted to be able to fund a lot of the people, the groups, the biologists, the nonprofits that do the real work, the real work the everyday work of getting us the science and the information we need to protect these animals, these are the people who are on the ground everyday.” Research was a big part of starting QeepUp. She wanted something different, something with a charitable and environmental element.
...I have been advocating for animal rights for a very long time and without healthy oceans we have nothing. We really don’t have life on planet earth without healthy oceans...
Researching yarns and different people who were sourcing within the United States, Maggie’s dream was to create a company for the US that was made in the US and sold in the US. She ended up being able to find really good vendors making quality yarn. “I really wanted people to understand what we were doing. I made decisions that like I said weren’t easy and weren’t cheap. But we’re incredibly ethical and that’s what the company is founded on, ethics. So that’s kind of how it got its start.”
Healthy oceans are important to Maggie. I can hear it in her voice. The concern, passion, the distress. It’s all there, and it’s all real. “There’s a few things going on in our oceans. One is overfishing, one is pollution and the other is plastics pollution which is one of the biggest, killing a lot of our endangered marine animals. I have been advocating for animal rights for a very long time and without healthy oceans we have nothing. We really don’t have life on planet earth without healthy oceans. And I think that concept is very far off from most people, if you don’t live on the ocean, if you didn’t grow up on the ocean, if you haven’t studied the ecology of why the oceans are so important, you can’t really understand how this ecosystem provides life for us. “And it’s changing rapidly, and I think what some of the naysayers don’t understand is that we’re not saying that climate doesn’t change, we’re saying that it’s changing too rapidly, more rapidly than it ever has in the history of the planet and that’s what we’re saying.”
But Maggie is moving along in her acting life. She had Fantasy Island come out in February and this summer had another film come out called The Argument which is a little comedy where she teamed up with a friend, actor Dan Fogler, whom she did another movie with called Balls of Fury.
But while Maggie works on her films, her businesses or interests off-screen will not suffer. Maggie also owns a supplement company and her medical director friend runs it. “We want to help people feel better, we want to help people lose weight, we want to help people have energy. All the things that people are always dealing with. And so we’re going out into the space not only with the products that we sell for gut health but we also want to go out into the space where there’s free information always available for people to be better in the health space.”
It’s all in the details for Maggie. “You have to be a person like me who is going to research every single thing you buy to know that you’re putting money in the pockets of a company that is morally and ethically in line with who you are. I want to be able to do that for people so that they don’t have to think. I’m gonna be able to vet companies so that people can support the best people. Because again, as a small business owner, as a female entrepreneur, I want other companies to have success. You can’t just want your own success.”
With an election looming, Maggie sees America far back, but can be up front once again. It will take time. “For me, I’ve seen America fall so far back in what we claim to be and believe and live and understand but I think my heart, I’m just so broken, so heartbroken about the divide. In America, the divisiveness that we see is so salacious so it’s focused on. I live in a country where when the shooting happened at the mosque in Pennsylvania the entire muslim community got together and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the families who lost their fathers and mothers and that’s the country that I know. That’s the country that I live in everyday. That’s the one that I see and experience. And so for the dark side to be so highlighted and so heightened it’s just so heartbreaking.”