by Sally Budge
Photography by Jasper Rischen
Grooming by Danni Katz
I had read an interview with Israeli-American actor Ronen Rubinstein a while ago and one particular quote stuck with me: “We should all be participating and making the world a better place.” This seems oddly generic, as if, don’t we all strive to make the world a better place? On some level?
He points to environmental, social, political problems in the world; the pandemic that we all went through in 2020 and are still going through today. “I think it’s almost our duty as a race to make this world a better place. Obviously different groups of people will have different resources,” says Rubinstein, who during the time of this interview was relaxing in a mountain cabin with a ton of records, trying to have some peace and quiet and just rest. “I drive a hydrogen vehicle, my house has solar panels, I don’t eat meat. I feel like everyone can take steps towards making the world a better place. Just something simple like voting.”
Rubinstein is an activist. Actor yes, you have seen him in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black or his current show 9-1-1: Lone Star created by Ryan Murphy of Glee and American Horror Story fame. But Rubinstein is an activist first and foremost, especially the right to vote. Which takes us back to everyone’s duty to making the world a better place. “I think we really dodged a bullet with this past election but again even with Joe Biden we have to keep him accountable and it’s important to vote in the midterm elections. I think people finally realize the power that they do have and it’s as simple as voting. It’s one of the greatest privileges that we have as Americans. It is effective and it’s crucial. It’s literally crucial!
“And if you look at the power of social media and the influence it has on social and political issues, it’s primarily young people. We’re in a beautiful generation right now about people realizing that they have power and they have the opportunity to lead and a lot of young people are finally taking and embracing it.”
But for Rubinstein, his primary focus is climate change, the environment, and the oceans. Always has been. He teamed up with a company called Project Zero and their whole initiative is to protect 30 percent of the oceans across the world. Earlier this year President Biden signed an Executive Order to protect 30 percent of America’s oceans so now the goal is to spread that wealth and protect the entire planet to really halt the effects of climate change and global warming. It’s personal for Rubinstein, having lost everything while on Staten Island during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “We were very close to the beach, we lost everything. We lost our homes, our cars, all of my belongings. Our neighborhood was on the coastline and everything got destroyed so I’ve personally seen it. I don’t wish it on anybody so I think it’s a big reason why I fight for climate change.”
Rubinstein is an ambassador for The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization started by scientist Boyan Slat that is aimed at ridding the world’s oceans of plastic through advanced technologies. “He [Slat] created a boat that cleans plastic from oceans and I remember reading about it years ago and I was like this is unbelievable. It’s just crazy. Though I read about these companies, in my wildest dreams I never thought I’d do something with them but I’m just glad we are and I can’t imagine what the future holds for these companies.”
After hearing him speak so passionately, I have to ask if he’s even in the right profession. He should be a lobbyist to make the government spend money in the right place to make a difference. Yet as an actor with a passion for advocacy and just causes, a few names come to mind as inspiration on how to juggle an acting career with activism. Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Fonda, even the late River Phoenix. These are people that Rubinstein emulates and wants to be like in the sense of balance. “The fact that actors have such power I think that is a big deal and why I have been striving to set my career parallel with helping the planet.”
Rubinstein will begin shooting the third season of Lone Star also starring Rob Lowe. Two other projects are in the works but cannot be revealed just yet. What was revealed recently into the public forum was Rubinstein’s sexuality, having announced he is bisexual. He started to feel comfortable coming out while working on his first season of Lone Star. Rubinstein would be surrounded by an inclusive and welcoming environment with a lot of members of the LGBTQ community from the producers, to the writers, to castmates. “I felt very safe and comfortable. I felt seen,” insists Rubinstein. “I think first and foremost I tell people not to put any pressure on. The time is truly right is when you feel that it is right. In my case I didn’t have any pressure, I didn’t have anyone telling me you need to do this. I was in a very safe environment to sort of take my time and do it when I felt safe and comfortable.”
Rubinstein would’ve liked to come out earlier on during the first season of Lone Star but didn’t want to take away attention from what the show is doing: a transgender series regular; a Muslim character who’s wearing a hijab and a series regular. “There’s a lot of things that we implemented in the show that I felt were really important for people to see and have. I just didn’t want to take attention away from it at all. I wanted the focus to be on the show and the characters and the stories we were telling.”
If Rubinstein had the next great story to tell it would be done as Captain Planet. “I always joke and call myself Captain Planet but he’s literally a superhero that fights enemies that are supposed to be symbolic of climate change and I think about wanting to see a superhero on a grand scale like Marvel fighting something we’re actually going through in real life and not a made up villain. It would be cool to see a superhero fighting for causes that are actually really dangerous for the human race.”
At the end of the day, Rubinstein just wants to make people happy and make really great content and just have a good effect on the world; he just wants to make the world a little happier with his work. “I just want to leave on this note with my fellow readers: Just continue to be kind to each other. Continue to be good to each other. Be kind to yourself. Be good to yourself. And you know let’s just, we can all do a little bit to make the world a better place.”
“…Captain Planet… he’s literally a superhero that fights enemies that are symbolic of climate change …”