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Over the years at Armageddon, the panels we've enjoyed most have been with actors we, err, hadn't heard of before Armageddon, when we've managed to ask interesting questions before the humans started asking, “If you could play any super-hero, who would it be?” which the guests have only been asked at every convention they ever went to in the history of the world.
Travis Aaron Wade split our animal camp. Ferhad Junior and Rebek are huge Supernatural fans so they knew who he was; Little Peppe, Dover, (and our human, Kaz) had never heard of him – which made us all very keen to meet him, if for different reasons.
Prior to Armageddon we google every guest with their name and ‘charities', so we googled “Travis Aaron Wade charities”. We find that most guests have a charity they support, because many of them are Good Humans. When we googled Travis, we discovered he's not just a Good Human, he's a TOTALLY AMAZEBALLS ULTRA INCREDIBLY REALLY REALLY GOOD HUMAN OF AWESOMENESSNESS. And he was kind enough to grant an interview to our giraffes.
Ferhad Junior (as to be expected) got over-excited and over-awed by such a Good Human, and wanted to ask Travis:
“Why did you start Arm the Animals and who does it help and how did you get involved with t.r.u.t. 4 h. and what's the best thing the charity has done for someone and how important is it to create awareness around social, environmental, and world issues through The Progression Foundation and did you know the link to their website on your website doesn't work and how does Bands for Arms help sailors, airmen and women, coast guards, marines and soldiers to communicate with their loved ones back home while they're serving their country and what are some of the unique challenges service members face during and post-service and how does The Boot Campaign help them and what's the coolest thing about being a teacher and how did you get involved in the pageant in Vietnam, and were you scared when you jumped into a flipped over fully-on-fire car to rescue a woman stuck inside and how badly burned did you get?
We suspect he may have wanted to ask more, but he ran out of breath.
Kaz pointed out to him that a lot of humans wanted to meet and talk to Travis over the weekend, so he couldn't spend as much time with our giraffes as Ferhad Junior wanted. She told him he had to choose one charity to talk about. He sulked about that and refused to disregard any of his questions, so Rebek started our interview.
Rebek: Hi Travis, thanx for taking some time out from meeting the humans to talk to us. Can you tell us how Arm the Animals started?
Travis: My business partners, who run Arm the Animals on the day-to-day, approached me with the idea of creating a T-shirt line that could help small rescues in our area. We wanted to support small Mom-and-Pop run charities that have no state funding.
We wanted to do something to help, starting off with something small in my local area. We created a killer T-shirt line, that is very tongue-in-cheek.
Ferhad Junior: Like the gorilla with the machine gun?
Travis: Exactly. We wanted to produce something that created an effect with a stirring image. You see a T-shirt with a gorilla holding an M16 in its paw, and you wonder, why does that gorilla have a weapon? Our message is, how would you treat that animal if it could fight back? If it could defend itself? You'd probably treat animals a little differently, you'd be less cruel, and they'd probably still have the ability to be here. You wouldn't be tearing down their Congo; they wouldn't let you.
Rebek: You have a huge range of T-shirts on your website. Have you always had that many?
Travis: No. We started out with six simple images, put them on T-shirts, and my job in the company was to help bring in money, find investors, and take the T-shirts to my celebrity friends. I'd take the T-shirts to different movie sets and television shows I was on, and everyone responded the same way – ‘Of course I'll wear it'. They love the concept, they love the T-shirt, they love the design, and they would wear it.
Rebek: That SUPERNATURE T-shirt you're wearing is pretty cool. Who did that? And where can humans buy it?
Travis: It was created by a tremendous Supernatural fan called Ronja Kappel I met in Germany. She's so talented and so gifted. This T is actually a
one-of-a-kind and not for sale as of now, but hopefully in the future we can sell it. But there are lots of great T-shirts on the Arm the Animals website to choose from.
(Rebek and Ferhad Junior have chosen some of their favourites below. Regular readers can probably guess which ones are Ferhad Junior's favourites!)
Rebek: Who was the first celebrity to bring some “Star Power” to Arm the Animals?
Travis: Ashley Greene from Twilight was one of the first people to tweet it on social media. She put it out there, Jared [Padalecki] and Jensen [Ackles] from Supernatural put it out there, and John Travolta has promoted us. The amount of celebrity following we got was tremendous. Our company grew, and six years later we're a multi-million-dollar charitable company.
We've gone well beyond our small rescues, we've helped so many different organisations, and we created a documentary called Extinction Soup, focussing on saving the millions of sharks that are slaughtered every year for their fins.
Ferhad Junior: I love sharks, I want one for a pet, and our human swam with some once, and patted one. I always get angry when humans do horrible things to sharks – especially if the humans have gone into the shark's territory, and then been bitten, and then they're all like, we want that shark killed. Silly humans.
Travis: A lot of people think that sharks don't need saving, but I think every single animal needs to be looked after. We want to create awareness, and by creating awareness we want to create a change in a way that we behave with and treat our animal friends. And we believe we're making that difference.
Rebek: You're one of the most caring humans we've talked to, and we talk to a lot of humans. What do you think has shaped you into the Good Human you are?
I went into the Marine Corps at 18 so learned at a very young age to care about my fellow man, and that the greatest gift you can give to someone is your own life. The military teaches you that. When I got out I met so many actors who were so famous and had so much money, and they were all about themselves. You can't go up to them and say hello; if you want a photo with them, don't bother.
Ferhad Junior: Yes, we've met other human actors who are, umm, well, not very nice, and think a lot more of themselves than they should. It's not like they're doctors or veterinarians or firefighters or police or other types of humans who are saving lives for a living or something. They're just pretending to be someone else. They're not as special as they think they are.
Travis: Indeed. They have big homes, and they block themselves off from people. That's a big mistake as an actor, because our job is to understand people. The more successful you get, and the further you pull away from people, the less you understand humanity. The best actors I know are the ones who stay engaged.
Rebek: Is that why you go to so many conventions?
Travis: Yes. Conventions keep me continuously connected to people, and provide the opportunity to stay close with them and talk with them. And I don't want to just say, “How you doing?” and then sign an autograph with my head down. I like to have a connection with you, hear some stories, talk to you and hear about where you're from, and where your family is from. Over the past few years I've had a lot of laughs with a lot of fans. It's connects me more as an artist, and I don't want to lose that as an actor. It feeds you as an artist to give back.
Ferhad Junior: You feed off humans and give back to animals. I approve of that!
Travis: There's such a need for the well-being of animals on our planet. You've been here for thousands of years, and you deserve to be here, you deserve to be looked after, and humans have a big problem in this area.
Rebek: It's obvious you care really deeply for animals. Why do you think you have such a strong bond with us?
Travis: You animals are a big deal for me because in my life, when I've struggled with depression, I've looked at my dogs and thought, “How could I hurt myself? How could I not be there for them?" If something happens to me, then how are they going to eat that day? They keep me grounded. They're so defenceless, and yet so helpful to me as a human being that I think it's my job to protect them.
For animals, and especially for the ones going extinct like the rhinos, and other majestic animals who've been here long before we have, and we've come onto the planet and we've almost wiped them out, we owe them.
Rebek: Aside from helping animals, you do a lot of work helping humans too. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Travis: Outside of being an actor I'm also a teacher. I work with kids, I travel abroad, I've been to Vietnam and worked with kids from 4-years-old to 24 years old, although my oldest student was 60. Teaching is one of my passions in life, it's something I really love. I don't have kids of my own, so my students are essentially my kids. Your students become like your children.
I also do work that supports Veterans, because a lot of my fellow Veteran friends … you know ... there are 22 a day who die from suicide [in America]. I'm very thankful I'm not one of those statistics, but I struggled with that, and so I wanted to do something to help with suicide and depression. I've watched it eat people alive. I've watched people hurt themselves, and at the end of the day if we can take care of one another, and help one another, then that's important.
Thanx heaps to Travis for taking the time to talk to two small giraffes when he was so, so busy with the humans. You rock dude!
For more information on the charities Travis supports, visit:
For other interviews with Travis, visit:
To catch up with Travis in cyberspace, visit:
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