The past year has been one of the most eventful for Sienna Miller. She squared up to the nasties at News International, as one of the first high-profile witnesses to give evidence at the Leveson Inquiry.
Then in January, news broke that the actress-cum-model was also expecting her first child. Now Sienna is also fronting a new campaign, alongside Orlando Bloom, for Hugo Boss fragrances in conjunction with UNICEF.
The partnership will see the launch of a limited edition of the BOSS ORANGE fragrance, with proceeds from every bottle sold going to fund one day of school for disadvantaged children in Madagascar. The slogan for the new fragrance is 'Today. To help. Together." Stirring words indeed, so we caught up with Sienna to find out more about her latest project...
Stylist writer Dipal Acharya with Sienna Miller
What attracted you to the UNICEF/BOSS project initially?
I have been working with BOSS for sometime now, so when I heard about the initiative I was thrilled. I’ve seen a lot first hand of what UNICEF does in these places and I think the work they are doing is just fantastic. I’m the Global Ambassador for the International Medical Corps, which is a UN affiliated NGO. So I’ve been to the Congo, Haiti after the earthquake and most recently Ethiopia on the Somali border. I feel like I have often been around that kind of work and the UN agencies out there are often running brilliant things.
But education in Africa is really where I think it needs to begin. The idea of educating 60, 000 people in Madagascar is just a fantastic goal and working with a fragrance company that’s conscious enough to be doing this work, that is really rewarding.
What does the campaign aim to achieve?
The primary goals are to educate children in Madagascar, so they are building schools, providing teacher training and all sorts of things from books and pencils to all the equipment needed for learning. Having spent a lot of time in Africa – and it is such a massive continent – the problems are very deep rooted and there is extreme poverty in most of it. And when trying to contemplate the best way to support that country, education is the right place to begin. I think Boss and Unicef have their finger on the right button
"Celebrity endorsement can really assist in this day and age and as cynical as people are about it, it does tend to have a positive effect"
What have you seen so far of the program?
I was supposed to go to Madagascar to see it all but I couldn’t because I was pregnant. So I’ve seen lots of the footage and photographs of the trip and spoken to somebody who went on my behalf, who told me about the building of the schools and the impact that it’s had on the communities so far and the levels of excitement it’s had on the families who are taking part in building the infrastructure. By all accounts, it’s going very well. There’s not an awful lot that I can do from here except hope that once I’ve had my baby I can go and visit. I’d love to – it’s up to BOSS ultimately but I would love to go.
Why do you think it is important for beauty brands to contribute to causes like that?
I don’t think it’s important specifically for beauty brands, I think for all of us, there’s a responsibility to support different areas of the world that are less fortunate. And in an industry that’s about marketing and about selling and buying, it’s important to remain conscious. From my point of view, celebrity endorsement can really assist in this day and age and as cynical as people are about it, it does tend to have a positive effect. From my point of view, I feel that it’s a responsibility that I have to try and do a little bit.
"I am a complete adrenalin junkie. We’ve had to sign waivers saying that the British Embassy are not responsible for us if we go to these places"
Do you think this could set a precedent for other brands or celebrities to follow suit?
I’m very happy and feel fortunate to be part of a company that is willing to do that. I don’t have a deeper message – I really hope the initiative works and that we reach our goal, and it is an impressive and ambitious target. But other than that, I don’t have any judgements about other people. Obviously the more the merrier but I’m not trying to show anything but my support for BOSS. I wouldn’t be a part of it if I didn’t believe in it but I think it’s something very hard not to believe in. So in that sense I’m fortunate.
Why has charity work always been a big part of your life?
It’s something that my mother was really heavily involved in, working with charities my whole life. So it was something that I was brought up with and surrounded by, which I really admire her for. Now, being in a position where you can garner attention, negative and positive, it seems like a good place to shed some light on organisations that have some meaning to you. But it is an organic fit and I think regardless of whether I was an actress or had any type of profile, it was something I would do.
I also feel very lucky because you get to go into these situations that normal people would never be allowed into. I’ve sat down with Mai-Mai leaders in Congo, with 12 rebels with Kalashnikovs, interviewing them in these life-threatening situations. I am a complete adrenalin junkie. We’ve had to sign waivers saying that the British Embassy are not responsible for us if we go to these places. But you get access to places you would never dream of going to and you see how life really is in this world. It’s enormous and much bigger than how it seems in your own head.
And I think that perspective is something I really need because it’s so easy to get caught up in your own world –and comparative to yourself these problems seem huge. You go to Congo and you meet women who have been gang raped several times and you realise your own insignificance. I feel very lucky.
Orlando Bloom is also an Ambassador for the Boss/UNICEF campaign – have you been in touch with him?
I saw him a year ago when we were shooting the campaign in LA but I haven’t seen him since because he’s got his baby and has been off around the world. We've been friends since I was 17, so I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a friend definitely and I haven’t spoken to him nearly enough. But I am glad that we are doing it together because he has the right attitude, which is very in keeping with this brand. It’s about positivity and happiness and he definitely fits the bill.
What do you think makes the perfect fragrance?
The perfect fragrance is such a personal thing. The message behind this one is perfect – it’s positive and uplifting. In depressing times in our world, it’s a lovely message. It’s got a sweetness to it that’s not overpowering, and very feminine
What was your favourite part of shooting the campaign?
Neil Stewart who was the photographer was great – he was so laid back. It was the whole ethos behind the campaign is that it’s spontaneous and fun. So the whole thing was unstructured and free. Very little makeup and hair, and just had a great day in a beautiful setting in California. It’s a natural image, it’s not polished – it’s more about the initiative than anything else.
You’ve had such a diverse career in front of the camera. Is there any type of film genre or director you would love to work with?
Yes tons! I’d love to work with Gary Oldman, I think he’s a genius. Everything he does I think is brilliant. Directors-wise, I feel the opposite, that I haven’t worked in nearly enough genres or with enough directors. There are tons of people that I really admire and would love to work with.
"Theatre is something bottomless for me. I will never feel that I’ve cracked it and therefore I am completely addicted to it"
What would you say is your ultimate ambition in life – maybe moving into more charitable initiatives?
I feel like I’ve got a healthy balance in terms of the humanitarian aspect of my work which I really love. Theatre is something I am addicted to...
Weren't you recently spotted at London's Barbican theatre, watching The Master and Margarita?
It was amazing and such an ambitious thing to take on by [the theatre company] Complicite. They do amazing productions and I came out feeling incredibly inspired. I dreamt about going to Jacques Lecoq, the physical theatre school, in Paris and never did it.
Is a career theatre something you would want to continue pursuing?
Yes, I try to go as often as I can to the theatre and I’m thinking of doing another play relatively soon. I’ve been offered something that I’m thinking about. And I would love to work with Trevor Nunn again, he’s someone that I learnt an awful lot from. It’s something bottomless for me – theatre. I will never feel that I’ve cracked it and therefore I am completely addicted to it. You have these moments of complete contentedness when you’re on stage.
I've also just finished filming something for the BBC and HBO that’s coming out later in the year. I think, I’ve said to my agents maybe in October I can start thinking about projects but the most important thing is my baby and being a mum, so I’ve got to focus on that.
'''BOSS Orange limited edition is on sale now, from £29, For further information on the 'Schools for Africa initiative', please click here
Words: Dipal Acharya