'OTH' Star Shantel VanSanten Will Empower You!
For the last three years, Shantel VanSanten has been breathing life into the fascinatingly complex Quinn on One Tree Hill. But with the series' final 13 episodes set to air starting January 11, Shantel began to look to the future and what she wanted to do next.
Enter Team True Beauty.
Launched in January of 2011, the organization was started to further raise awareness on the dangers of eating disorders and promote the importance of inner beauty, positive self-esteem and positive ways to deal with body image insecurities. The issue is so close to Shantel's heart, she was recently made the campaign's Celebrity True Beauty Ambassador with her own column in the monthly newsletter. Shantel will be giving a speech at a Team True Beauty event on January 7 in Los Angeles (details here) and recently took a few minutes out of her day to speak with TheInsider.com.
We not only chatted about the importance of organizations like Team True Beauty, but also about what her fans can expect from the upcoming final season of One Tree Hill -- which Shantel calls "amazing crazy."
Insider.com: What made you get involved with Team True Beauty?
Shantel VanSanten: Whenever people interview me, I tend to divulge my whole life story [laughs]. And while I didn't suffer from body issues as severely as some others do, starting out in modeling really messed with my self-image. I felt the need to speak out because it affects everyone. I have a sister who is 20 and she struggles with the same thing -- even my 19-year-old brother struggles with body image. It's so universal. Our bodies are exploited so much in the media, I feel like everyone is made to feel like they're not worthy or beautiful. I started feeling so strongly about helping girls realize they are beautiful and capable of anything. It's a trickle effect. The minute you feel secure about yourself and own the fact your dreams are honest true, other things fix themselves.
Insider: You've also had a lot of hands-on interaction with your fans through Twitter and the TTB Newsletter -- how has that impacted you?
Shantel: You know, for a long while I was really against Twitter. I mean, who cares if I'm in an airport or had broccoli for dinner? But I realized that it could be used to reach out to girls and the response has been amazing. To feel like I'm their friend makes me so happy. To feel like they can rely on me is a responsibility that I don't take lightly, but it's also an honor. I'm so humbled to think I could be making any sort of difference, but it's about turning everyone carrying and owning this message of inspiration.
Insider: Is that the one idea you feel is most central to your mission?
Shantel: I always tell girls to share their story because by doing that, they're sharing their strength. I feel like it's a movement. And within the movement, everyone's stories and struggles are connected – but there are basic truths that we touch on and that's what you pass on. It might start with me, but it's up to the girls to share it. They're the ones who have to go and inspire other people. Tell your best friend every day that she's beautiful. Remind each other how amazing you are. The more girls that believe in, and participate in, the movement, that's when we really make a difference.
Insider: One Tree Hill has been a big part of a lot of your fans' lives -- what does it feel like knowing the end is nigh?
Shantel: It has been the biggest grieving process – going through the show ending and packing up my house. It's been so bittersweet. We were blessed to know it would be the last season so we got to end it right and cherish every moment. We got to finish what was started nine seasons ago, and finish strong. This will, hopefully, please the fans, but also gave us the chance to have final interactions with each other. There was so much love on that set. We were always a family, sometimes dysfunctional [laughs], but it's always a family. I miss everybody. I am so thankful for the experiences I had. One Tree Hill changed me forever.
Insider: What can you tell me about the final batch of episodes?
Shantel: This season is insane. It's incredible. I think it's the best TV we've ever done. It's got everything and it's crazy, crazy [laughs]. This year, our creator wouldn't tell me anything. Normally he'd give me some secrets or an idea of where it was going but this year he made me feel like an audience member because I would have to wait a week for the next one script, like it was a new episode.
Insider: And since this is the final time we'll ever see Quinn, how do you feel about the place the series finale leaves her in?
Shantel: It's funny because we end every season like we are ending forever because we never knew if we were coming back. So I've had all these moments where I've said, "This is my last moment playing Quinn." Like standing on the balcony. So, when they started season nine, we had a blank slate – anything was possible. And Mark [Schwahn, creator] went amazing crazy. It's a big roller coaster for Quinn. There's a lot of struggle and sacrifices. I feel at peace where it ends and I didn't know if I would feel that way at the start of the season. But Mark always takes care of everybody; even when he makes the characters less than what we hoped they are, it just opens them up for redemption. I think Quinn's final moment will be pleasantly surprising for fans. I can't wait to hear everyone's thoughts every week because it's going to be a ride!
For more on Team True Beauty, click here! And be sure to tune into the final season premiere of One Tree Hill, January 11 at 8 p.m. on The CW.