“I’m only willing to take on stories that are authentic, that can touch people. Whether it’s comedy or something that will bring people to tears. That’s why I’m a storyteller,” says Marie Avgeropoulos who actually didn’t set out to be an actress or an activist; she set out to tell stories. Through that singular goal, the 33-year-old Canadian has found herself on television and movie screens, producing a documentary, and aiding young girls in India.
Avgeropoulos grew up in Thunder Bay, a city resting on the Canadian shore of Lake Superior. A self-described “wild child,” she remembers happily living “like most children” – one day at a time without much thought on the future. Through camping, hunting, fishing, and family barbecues at a lake house, Avgeropoulos fostered a great love and appreciation for the outdoors that have stayed with her. From time to time, she might be found snowboarding the mountains around her Vancouver home or joining her girlfriends for trips to Burchell Lake (“the Burchell Babes”).
Furthermore, storytelling touches every part of Avgeropoulos’ career, a deliberate decision on her part. Following a three-month backpacking trip in Europe, she enrolled in a broadcast journalism program. It was there she developed a thick skin and “[got] used to hearing the word ‘no,’” – two lessons she eventually carried into her acting work. What she couldn’t handle was, however, the idea of bringing only bad news to viewers every day. She wanted to choose the stories she worked so hard to tell, to give voice to narratives that needed it. So, she switched to acting.
Avgeropoulos sees her acting roles as an indulgent therapy. By putting characters on, walking in their shoes, and speaking in their voice, she can tell a wide range of stories and truths to her audience. She is especially grateful for Octavia Blake, her character on The CW’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi series The 100, who frequently changes on the show and challenges Avgeropoulos as an actress. She says The 100 is a show about “making bad decisions and how they redeem themselves,” and its success lies in its relatable themes of love, loss, survival, and redemption.
Her latest creative endeavor focuses on giving a voice to those who need it most. A friend introduced Avgeropoulos to Food For Life Vrindavan, an organization working to educate, empower, and serve the Vrindavan area of India. For more than 25 years, FFLV has provided free education, meals, skill training, and medical services to young women and girls. Avgeropoulos’ first visit was a difficult one. “I cried and cried and cried,” she says of visiting one of FFLV’s schools. Her crying ended when the school’s principal “grabbed [her] by the shoulders,” telling her the students would wonder why she was crying around them. She says the more she visits, the more she’s convinced she’s serving a purpose in Vrindavan, and that there is plenty more opportunity to aid the community. Moreover, Without Exception Films has been featuring FFLV’s and Vrindavan’s story through “short and sweet” #SheMustCount documentaries available on social media. The short films, soon to be compiled into a longer documentary, are intended to “show people where their money is going and how they can help.”
Avgeropoulos is “not a fan of the whole celebrity thing,” but sees her fame as a platform to bring more light into a world that seems increasingly dark with emotional hardship and barriers to moving forward: “Don’t look backwards because that’s not the way you’re headed.”
Writer: Caroline Eddy
Photographer & Videographer: Natalie Walsh
Stylist: Katelynn Tilley
Hair: Michael Dueñas
Makeup: Sarah Benjamin-Hall (for MCH)
Manicurist: Nettie Davis
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to FD Photo Studio (@fdphotostudio - www.fdphotostudio.com) & Shakey’s Pizza Parlor (@shakeysusa - www.shakeys.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)