As an actor, writer, model, and environmental activist, Vera Bulder is looking to use her influence to change the world. The 23 year old, who is signed with No Agency New York, came to New York from Amsterdam when she was 17 during a gap year from high school to pursue acting, and has since built up her filmography with roles in the 2018 short film Leech (alongside fellow actress/model Ali Michael) and several Emma Westenberg short films - just to name a few. She has also modeled for brands like Nike, Levi's, and Glossier as well as Sandy Liang and Kindred Black. We recently caught up with Vera and discussed her entry into play-writing, bi-coastal life, doing what's right (even if it's corny),and the power of small environmental acts.
Hi Vera, how are you and what are you working on currently? Do you have any exciting projects coming soon?
I'm good! A bit tired, I just got off a red eye from LA this morning. I'm auditioning for a lot of T.V. and film projects at the moment, and modeling here and there. Hustling basically, trying to work on creating cool projects with friends. I am also working on adapting my first stage play, which I'm having a lot of fun with.
Could you tell us a bit about that?
My dad is a stage actor, and just did this incredible play about a year ago. It's a period piece, set in the mid eighteenth century in France, and revolves around a young woman with addiction and mental health problems. It's a beautiful female character with a ton of debt and story. It was originally based on a Dutch novel, and adapted for the stage by Dutch director/writer Ger Thijs. The subject matter is timeless, the writing is great, so I really hope I do an alright job with it.
What drew you to writing for the stage as opposed to the screen or television?
I've always loved the theater - I was born into it, with my dad being on stage growing up. The truth is, I don't think I'm nearly good enough a writer yet to write my own script, so adapting an already existing story and play for the American stage, is a much more manageable for me. Hopefully I'll fully write a script of my own one day.
Do you feel that your work as an actor influences your writing?
Definitely. I say every line out loud and think, as an actor, "How would I deliver that?" It helps with pacing and rhythm as well. I think it also helped me chose the project. If I wasn't exited by the prospect of a great actress taking on this role and have it be very, very fun and challenging for them, I would've chosen something else.
I just hope to inspire people as much as a can and hopefully help evoke change. To quote River Phoenix... "If I have some celebrity, I hope I can use it to make a difference. The true social reward is that I can speak my mind and share my thoughts about the environment and civilization itself."
Now along with being an actor, writer, and model, you are also a very passionate environmentalist. What inspired you to pursue this lane of activism?
Now, this will sound a bit corny, but I've always loved and respected nature and wildlife more than anything else. I feel very much at home with it. Reading news stories every day of another species going extinct, and ice caps continuing to melt, I just have to feel like I'm doing something to help, it keeps me up at night. Scientists have predicted we are literally running out of time to save our planet as we know it, so there is just no more time to sit back and watch it unfold. I just hope to inspire people as much as a can and hopefully help evoke change. To quote River Phoenix, (even cornier), "If I have some celebrity, I hope I can use it to make a difference. The true social reward is that I can speak my mind and share my thoughts about the environment and civilization itself."
Coming from Amsterdam and now spending your time between New York and LA, do you see a difference in environmental approaches? How does each city take on consumption/sustainability/eco-consciousness?
New York and LA fortunately are two of Americas's more "progressive" cities. Meaning that its citizens are often more aware of environmental issues, there is more money, and people in and out of office talk about change needing to happen. I think there was a new law passed in LA the other day, where restaurants are obligated to get rid of single use (plastic) straws. The sets I work on often have compostable dinnerware, and golf courses and grass patches are watered using recycled water. But at the end of the day, it's the same old capitalistic American story - where there is money, there is room for (small) change. It's at times like this where I truly miss Europe, where they are miles ahead on these issues. But at the same time, it's perhaps a good thing to push my environmental agenda in this country. I have to scream a lot harder, but it also needs to be heard more.
What are some ethical fashion and beauty brands we should be supporting?
I won't bore you with a giant list in my notes, but some of my favorites are: Mara Hoffman, Veja shoes, Reformation, and Stella McCartney. Stella is the only top fashion designer that has always cared about sustainability- isn't that crazy?
I feel like it's a cliche thing to say, "Save the Earth - it's the only one we've got," and at times sustainability and environmentalism can be reduced down to hollow marketing shticks - but with scientists saying we only have 11 or so years left to stagnate the damage we're inflicting onto the planet and the effects of climate change being felt across the globe every day, it's clear that it's going take everyone to make a difference. What is your advice to our readers who want to make a meaningful impact on the environment?
My advice to everyone is, to start with yourself, and your own life. Walk through your day-to-day, and see where you could limit your impact. Ask yourself questions like, "Am I doing enough? Do I consistently recycle? Can I eat less meat, take shorter showers, bike to work instead of drive?" As soon as you change your mindset, and become more aware, even in a smaller way, you will become more open to seeing the larger issue. That's how it started for me. As long as people have self awareness, I think we have a chance in undoing some of that damage these next 11 years.
Photography by Elina Nova
Wool Sweater: Vintage
Jewelry: Vera's own