From cocktails in Manhattan to elephant rescue in Kenya, Kristin Davis has travelled a long way over the past eight years - but she's still championing the need for more female-orientated TV. Stylist catches up with the one-time Charlotte York...
Kristin Davis glides into the room with the kind of easy grace her one-time alter ego Charlotte York would be proud of. She’s wearing an upcycled dress by Karen Caldwell (‘Livia Firth would be happy,’ she says of Colin Firth’s wife and her partner in green campaigning) and an ethically-sourced diamond bracelet by Fabergé. “Oh canapés,” she cries enthusiastically, flashing a radiant Charlotte-like smile as she spies a tray of mini-salmon appetisers on the table between us.
ABOVE: Kristin Davis in her SATC days (Photo: Rex Features)
For an avid Sex And The City fan like me, it’s difficult to separate Charlotte from the actual Kristin. In part, this is because she is quite like her character, sporting the same trademark glossy brown hair and with a natural, guileless exuberance that resonates in everything she says and does. And in part, it’s because of the ground-breaking nature of a show like SATC. It changed the way we talked about sex and as a consequence, wherever Kristin goes, the shadow of Charlotte will always linger nearby.
Not that the 47-year-old actress seems to resent it. “I’m lucky to have been a part of it [Sex And The City] and in some ways it lives on,” she says. “I remember when another show came on and there was more print about us then than when we were on air. It was so bizarre.
“But part of that is just because there aren’t enough shows about women starring women, there’s just not. So they still talk about the few that there are and when a new one comes along, it’s like ‘oh’ - they have to compare it to us because there aren’t enough.”
But it’s been eight years since the show wrapped on TV and just as I’m expecting ‘Charlotte’ to launch into a semi-graphic account of last night’s tussle with the gardener, Kristin reminds me of the reason why she’s here in London tonight. And it couldn’t be further removed from dirty talk with Carrie and the girls over brunch.
"There are times when I say, ‘I’m going to move to Kenya, I’m ready'"
We’re at a gala for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, of which Kristin is patron. Her involvement began four years ago when she and her friend Amy saved an orphaned baby elephant, Chaima, on a visit to Kenya. The episode clearly struck a nerve – “We had to tie her to a tree because she was clearly scared of humans and kept on trying to run away” - and Kristin quickly became caught up with the many issues threatening elephant welfare, including poaching.
“It’s increased hugely,” she explains. “Last year 38,000 elephants were killed and that’s just an estimate because you don’t have every country reporting [on poaching figures].
“Poaching was not the first issue on the Trust’s list and very tragically during the years I’ve known them, it has become really horrific what’s going on, so unfortunately we’ve watched a very sad trend happening and that’s why we’re trying to raise awareness.”
“Elephants could be extinct and off the map by 2020,” she continues. “We’re leaving our children a world that will not have wild animals living in the wild they’ll only be in zoos, which is a tragedy.”
It’s clear the cause now plays a major role in Kristin’s life. “There are times when I say, ‘I’m going to move to Kenya, I’m ready,” she admits. But there are other commitments holding her back – not least her adopted baby daughter, Gemma Rose (- “my mother is with my baby at home,” she notes during our interview). And then there’s acting; Kristin made her Broadway debut this summer, in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.
By doing so, she followed in the footsteps of her former co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Tony winner Cynthia Nixon, all of whom have treaded the boards on Broadway and sent Kristin “sweet emails” during her stint.
“We’re kind of spread out but we work hard to stay in touch even if it’s by email,” she says. “But I’m behind; Kim is doing a play here [in London] and I haven’t talked to her since it opened.”
ABOVE: Kristin at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust gala in London (photo: Alex Wood)
So what of the legacy of SATC? However much Kristin has moved on since the show, there's one aspect of it that has always rung true for her - the idea that women can do whatever they like, when they like (be that naked sushi or buying $800 dollar shoes).
“When I was growing up, I was told I could do whatever I wanted,” she says. “When I was six I wanted to be a fireman and I went to school and I said I wanted to be a fireman and my teacher called my mum and said, ‘Oh, you need to have a talk with your daughter because she wants to become a fireman and obviously that’s not going to work out,’ and my mum said, ‘Well, why not?’
“So my mum went and brought me a big fireman’s helmet and there are a lot of pictures of me in that. I’m lucky that my parents were very, very progressive in their thinking and it wasn’t really something that I realised wasn’t just a common belief. Around the house that’s just how it was and then I got out in the world and it was like ‘Oh.’”
Kristin is patron of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Alex Wood and Rex Features