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EXCLUSIVE: Kristen Bell Opens Up About Thrive's Online Food Stamp Petition, Motherhood, and Possibly More 'Veronica Mars'

by Emily Krauser 5:00 AM PDT, July 25, 2016
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Kristen Bell Opens Up About Thrive's Online Food Stamp Petition, Motherhood, and Possibly More 'Veronica Mars'

Kristen Bell is nothing if not outspoken.

The 36-year-old actress engages openly with her social media followers on any topic she feels is important, including the current political race and gun control, and she's also an advocate for many charitable causes.

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The Good Place star's latest feel-good effort is a partnership with Thrive Market, a socially conscious online store that started a petition to make food stamps available online. Celebrities like Bell, Jillian Michaels, and Shailene Woodley -- who recently spoke in front of Congress on the matter -- were quick to jump on-board, as were the over 115,000 supports who've already signed the petition.

I spoke with the mom of two, who shares daughters Lincoln and Delta with husband Dax Shepard, by phone as she made her way down to Comic-Con last week, and she explained that joining Thrive was a no-brainer. "To me, it seems like the obvious issue that should be fixed with nothing negative involved," she said. The conversation turned to the many causes she's passionate about, how motherhood has made her want to get more involved in charity work, and the strong friendship she has with her fellow mothers and Bad Moms co-stars, which includes Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Annie Mumolo. And, of course, how we can get more Veronica Mars in our lives. Who do you think I am to not ask such a question?

Read on to hear more from Bell.

What made you want to get involved with Thrive and the online food stamps issue?
The petition is to get the USDA to allow food stamps to be used online, and that just seems like such an obvious fix to a greater problem. I'm very grateful to be able to buy healthy foods for my family, and I think everyone deserves that right.

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To be honest, until I saw the petition, I didn't realize that it wasn't an option.
It's this way with a lot of issues. If they don't directly affect you, you have trouble seeing them or really understanding how they could exist, which is why I really respect that Thrive took a stand as a business to say, 'This seems very obvious to all of us.' It gives people who do use food stamps the ability to feel better during the day -- they're eating better food, and they have better options and less medical problems later because they're eating healthier. The ripple effect could be extremely positive.

You're involved with a lot of causes. Do you often recruit your friends to help?
I recruit everyone. I'm constantly asking my friends for favors and to be involved. I got involved with PATH [People Assisting the Homeless] in Los Angeles a couple years ago, and for my birthday -- and subsequently for a lot of my friends' birthdays -- we did lists for people who are transitioning from homelessness into an apartment. You basically get the list of 40 items that they need, like a couch, bed, pots and pans, or silverware, and you actually move in an individual or a family, and it's an incredibly fun, rewarding day. So, I ask my friends to be involved a lot, but I also read past the headlines on the Internet and really try to understand causes and all of the different dimensions they have, and I just try to follow my heart and get involved in any of them that speak to me -- and they usually all speak to me!

Anyone who follows you on social media knows how active and outspoken you are. Have you ever been concerned with putting your voice out there, especially with trolls seemingly getting worse?
Yeah, but that's a mistake to think that way. Yes, trolls exist, and yes, trolls suck. Trolls are also very sad, scared people, if they're even people, because some of them I think are computers. I never hesitate to put my voice out there. That's not to say sometimes I regret the way I phrase things or wish that I wouldn't have become a target, but those are all of much less importance than what I know is my social responsibility. One thing that I think is really paramount to understand about the Internet is that it's our collective anxiety. It is very easy to just see all these terrible headlines and think the world is getting worse, and the facts are that it's not. It's gotten substantially better since the Crusade, since the World Wars, since segregation, and since LGBT rights started to come to the forefront.

It can feel like social media exaggerates issues. After the RNC, Trevor Noah had a whole piece on The Daily Show about how the world has gotten safer in the last 20 years, but you wouldn't know it from the way that the politicians were talking there.
That's the scare tactic trick. People use fear to rally others, and it's not fair and it's not accurate. I'm not saying there aren't things that need to be fixed -- of course there are -- but let's be very realistic that things are getting better and they still can get even better. That's one of the reasons why I like to tweet good things, not just negative headlines and problems, because people do need to be reminded that good people exist and we are still the majority.

You've been vocal about topics like gun violence and vaccinations. What issues are you really paying attention to this political season?
Gun violence is incredibly important to me. I have no intention of striving to abolish the second amendment -- I have the intention to stop the violence. I don't want people to get shot by the police. I don't want people to shoot the police. I don't want people to shoot each other. I just don't want violence, period. Even when I just said that, that line of dialogue could be taken out of context and you could just print, 'I don't want people to get shot by the police,' and people could attack me for it. This is the sort of broader point I'm making about it being important to always understand context and that issues are not black and white. Now, I'm not in the thick of it, so I can be a voice that is promoting other voices, but I thank God I'm not in the thick of that issue in the day-to-day, and I don't envy anybody who is. I don't think people are the enemy. I do think people want to be good.

On the subject of gun violence, the best example I heard was, 'If you see a child on the playground with a knife, do you take that knife away or do you give all the children knives?' That's pretty inarguable.

That's one of the clearest analogies I've heard on the matter. I wish I used that with some friends, because those conversations haven't always gone well.
It's funny, they don't want to hear the anti-gun violence movement because they're scared that the second amendment will be abolished, which I think is a misconception. That's not the intention. The second amendment is as important to a gun owner as free speech is to me, and I would defend free speech with my life. I don't think any good comes from arguing about it. I think you really have to understand where they're coming from and then both sides have to find a solution.

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Arguments over free speech have come to the forefront again with racist tweets being sent to Leslie Jones and conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulous getting banned from Twitter.
Here's the thing: I'm just going to make a law that everybody has to be nice and it will fix all of this. I figured it out! I just figured it out on this phone call. Everyone just has to be nice, and then we can put to rest all these issues that divide us.

The Kristen Bell law! Has having your daughters made you get more involved with all of these charities and causes?
It's focused my energy on getting involved because I want to create a better world for them. I want to create a world where they don't have to work as hard to see goodness rise to the top. But I definitely was involved before them, because my parents instilled pretty good values in me, that I'm not living alone on this planet. Humans are herd creatures -- we are pack animals. We have to live together and we have to communicate, and isolated individuals need a support system, whether that goes for someone who's wavering on an issue or someone who says, ‘Well, what can I do?' Conversations need to be sparked.

You've recently opened up about your battle with depression. What has the reaction been like?
It couldn't have been a better outcome. In truth, I was hesitant to talk about it, because I was suppressing the stigma. Weirdly I hit a point, particularly right before the Sam Jones interview, because long-form interviews like that are rare, and I was thinking about what I would want to discuss, what sides of myself I would want to show, and it occurred to me that it wasn't really a fair representation of who I was to pretend that I was bubbly and happy all the time. I felt that the socially responsible thing to do was to talk about what I'd been through, and I have been so happy at the response, that people have felt more at ease about their mental health or have looked into taking care of themselves. Every single thing gets better when we talk about it. It's the same thing that applies to Bad Moms, though. Asking for help does not make you weaker. It actually makes you stronger to ask for help. It doesn't make sense the way we're handling a lot of things as humans.

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You worked on Bad Moms with Mila, who also has a young daughter. Did you swap parenting advice?
We all had kids of different ages, all six of us that were in the movie, so we shared advice at all times. It takes a village, and previously we lived in the same house or cave as our village. Now, we're all separated into different households, so it's important to stay in communication and help each other: 'Hey, how did you deal with this issue? What did you do when your kids weren't sleeping? What did you do when your kids wouldn't eat healthy foods?'

You guys seem to have such a camaraderie, so I do hope you're all still friends.
We so are. It was such a treat because we did bring our kids some days, but other days we just hung out on set as girlfriends, which was sort of the theme of the movie, to remember that you are an autonomous female who needs female friendships, or any friendships.

People often forget that of course you're a mom, but you're also still you, separate from your kids.
Right, but you know why people forget? Because they're striving for perfection in motherhood. It actually comes out of a really good intention. It just deserves a reminder that, you know what makes you better as a mom? When you put on your gas mask first. You're actually going to get the results you want if you take care of yourself, and sometimes taking care of yourself means going to a yoga class and letting your husband take care of dinner or going to a mid-day lunch with your girlfriends and having some wine -- whatever it means to you.

Speaking of husbands, is Dax a hands-on dad with the girls?
Oh my God, incredibly. We read a book called Brain Rules for Baby before they were born, about how important it is to share the workload and how a lot of marriages can decline if you don't pay attention to warning signs that your marriage is deteriorating because you're just focusing on your kids, and he took that very seriously. He is an incredibly involved father.

You were both in two of my favorite TV shows, Parenthood and Veronica Mars. I'm pushing for a new Veronica Mars fan hashtag: #3SeasonAndAMovieAndAnotherMovie.
I'd be down with it! I think we will definitely see more from Veronica Mars one day, because Rob Thomas and I talk all the time about how to do it and what to do. If the audience will have us, we will be striving to make something with Veronica in it.

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