by Brent Lambert

Actors live incredibly unique lives, especially considering the fact that the roles and characters they portray end up becoming major, teachable life chapters for them. For Eloise Mumford, playing Kate Kavanagh in the Fifty Shades film series has been rewarding in this very sense — and then some. BELLO chatted with Eloise about her Fifty Shades journey, as well as her love of mother nature, the power of sexual discovery, and making the world a better place.


BELLO: You’ve been with the Fifty Shades family for a while now. When did this adventure first begin for you?
ELOISE: It began four years ago in November 2013. It’s crazy how fast time has flown by.

BELLO: The subject nature of the films has likely led to some interesting brushes with fans. What’s the most surreal encounter you’ve ever had with a fan?
ELOISE: You know what’s been so amazing about this whole project? Going into it, it wasn’t what I expected at all, but it turns out the majority of the fans are wonderfully kind middle-aged women, and also younger women. So it’s primarily a female-based fan group, and honestly it’s been such a blast. They’ve been incredibly supportive and very kind. It’s always surreal to have someone think that they know me, and it happens quite a lot. They think that they’ve met me because I play a good friend in the movies, so they recognize me as such. Most of the time I just go along with it and pretend that I’m their friend (laughing). Everyone’s been so wonderful, and it’s such an international fanbase, too, which has been a real thrill.

BELLO: How would you say the Fifty Shades films have changed the American conversation about sex and the sexual experience at large?
ELOISE: I’ve thought a lot about that. It’s been really interesting to witness how a sexual, romantic story told from a female point of view — especially four years ago — felt very fresh and very groundbreaking in a lot of ways. So when the box office numbers came in for the first film, which was written by a woman, directed by a woman, and told from a woman’s point of view, it was very exciting because it sent a message that we need more films like this. Culturally speaking, this has been the most important part of this experience for me.

BELLO: As far as the research you’ve done for your character, Kate, through the years, what’s the most fascinating discovery you’ve made about her or the subject matter in general?
ELOISE: When I began to look at Kate and search for the most compelling elements of her character, I looked mostly at the idea of friendship. Luckily I have a lot of great friends of my own who helped me in that regard. I feel like I’ve kind of been running a parallel storyline in my own life similar to Kate’s. Over the last four years I’ve gone through some crazy romantic ups and downs in the course of filming these movies, and my friends have been there for me and my relationships with each of them have gotten so much stronger because of it. For me it’s not so much intellectually interesting as it is interesting from a heart-level perspective. It’s amazing how powerful a friendship can become when it’s built on mutual support instead of competition. I think that’s what’s so lovely about Ana and Kate’s friendship. Whereas some friendships can sometimes have a competition element built into them, that’s not the case with these two. With Kate, I didn’t have to get into any of the sexual situations that happen in the film. But in Fifty Shades Freed she does get to have her own little love story. Having said that, most of my time researching was spent meditating on the nature of true friendship.

BELLO: I read a study once which showed how the practice of S&M has been proven to significantly strengthen a relationship. Have you ever heard from fans about how the films have helped them reach some personal breakthroughs in their own relationships?
ELOISE: I think what’s so delightful about these films is that they encourage people to do the things that turn them on. I think that’s a really important conversation and realization to have. There are many things out there that turn us on, and the kind of magic that happens when we’re in a romantic relationship with someone is very specific to each of us. It doesn’t have to follow some sort of cookie cutter concept of what a relationship should look like. So for me, having a conversation about what romance and sexuality at its very best should look like, is not about reaching the end of the conversation because it’s a conversation that has no end. It’s constantly evolving. It’s exciting to be part of a project that inspires people to discover what really turns them on, regardless of what anyone else might think about it.

BELLO: What do your high school friends think about everything that’s happened to you?
ELOISE: I was just hanging out with one of my best friends from high school the other day. She just had a baby, and she also works as an event planner. We were talking about it and that was always her dream in school. That was always the thing that she wanted to do, and I always wanted to be an actor. It’s pretty incredible that we are each doing what we always dreamed of doing.

BELLO: I’m interested in your work with Habitat for Humanity. How did that start and where would you like to see it go?
ELOISE: When I first moved to LA I was going through various phases of loneliness. As an actor you have a lot of time in between projects, even if you’re auditioning and going to lots of meetings. So years ago I started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity when I was in between projects. I would go to the same house in Compton almost everyday. Anyone can do it anytime. As I’ve gotten busier I haven’t had as much time to devote to it, but I’m excited to get back with it again. I like to feel like I’m making some sort of physical contribution, which is such a wonderful feeling when a family gets to move into that house.

BELLO: Your Instagram tells me you really are a lover of the outdoors — lots of camping and nature in your life. Who inspired you the most in that department?
ELOISE: My mom was an Outward Bound instructor in the 70s, which is an outdoor instruction program, so we went on backpacking trips and hikes all the time when I was a kid. And I still do quite often with my parents. I’m from Washington State so it’s a prime place to be for all that. I’ve spent a lot of time in majestic nature and I absolutely love it. I don’t know what I would do without it.

BELLO: Speaking of your mom, I noticed on your Instagram that she gave you a copy of Courage Is Contagious. What was your favorite take home message from that book?
ELOISE: I feel like the inside of me is a shrine to Michelle Obama. I think she is so incredible and inspiring. Her strength and grace and vision about what it means to be a woman and a citizen is truly beautiful. I love her.

BELLO: I like to do a game called Career Blender Challenge, where you take two of your favorite series or movies, and mash them together to create an original series or film in which you star. Which two would you mash together and what would it be called?
ELOISE: It would be called Handmaid’s Crown and it’s a mashup of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crown. It’s about a handmaid in the Wild West who works at a miner’s hotel back in the day, and she’s a feminist living in a very non-feminist world. She feels very isolated in her own world, and is constantly trying to do what’s best, but it’s not necessarily what she truly wants to do in her heart. She feels a responsibility to do what’s right and is surrounded by others who don’t necessarily have her best interests in mind. Is her destiny something that is preordained, or is she fully in the driver’s seat?

BELLO: It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Imagine your hubby or boyfriend were to whisk you away on a jet to your dream destination, and as you’re taking off he tells you that you get to pick the place. Where would you send your plane and why?
ELOISE: Oh wow, I wish you could make that a reality for me (laughing)! I would love to go to Argentina and Patagonia. I absolutely love the outdoors and camping, and there’s something so incredible about that part of the world. I’ve always wanted to go there.

Photography Amanda Elkins

Stuling Benjamin Holtrop

MakeUp Grace Phillips

Hair Page Davenport

Art Direction Stephane Marquet

Production Aleksandar Tomovic X Maison Privee LA.

About The Author

Aleksandar Tomovic
Editor in Chief

French photographer (of Serbian Origins) lives and works in Los Angeles. Known for his celebrity fashion editorials and recognized around the world for his european esthetics and american efficiency.

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