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Vegan education from director James Cameron and his inspiring wife, Suzy Amis Cameron

By Catherine Winters
Posted On Feb 27, 2015

Suzy Amis Cameron

New You recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of Hollywood’s feistiest first ladies, Suzy Amis Cameron. Her principled way of life—and her powerful take on education—have led to the MUSE School in Calabasas, California. James and Suzy recently threw a glitzy eco fashion show at the Chateau Marmont (read the Hollywood Reporter article, here)

BEHIND EVERY GREAT MOVIE IS A GREAT WOMAN – MEET THREE OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST MASTERFUL MAVENS OF THE SCREEN, SCRIPT, AND SUSTAINABLE CHANGE.

by Amy Zavatto

SUZY AMIS CAMERON IS NOT A WOMAN who lets status-quo parameters get in her way.

When she was growing up, she dreamed of becoming a horse veterinarian—but not just any horse vet. She began to learn how to fly a plane at age 15 so she wouldn’t be limited to the equestrian needs of her general vicinity of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “I had a vision of being a flying vet and going around the surrounding places of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and taking care of these gorgeous horses,” she says.

Big dreams for a brainy, red-headed science and math geek from the Midwest—but they seem tiny in comparison to the way her life actually took flight. Amis Cameron is not only a bona fide star of the screen, with movies like Rocket Gibraltar, The Usual Suspects, and Firestorm over the course of her 15-year acting career, she now counts eco-activist and school founder among her eclectic, Renaissance woman line of credits. You might say this latter phase of her life kicked off when her acting career came to a close. After Firestorm, Amis Cameron chose to retire from on-camera life. “Well, two films before that, I was in this little film called Titanic, and I met this really cool guy who directed and wrote and produced the movie named Jim Cameron,” she jokes of her über-famous Oscar-winning spouse. After the film wrapped, the two allowed themselves to fall head over heels. Eighteen years later, they’re still like that today. (“The kids are like, ‘Oh, you guys, stop!’” she says.)

As it turns out, she was gearing up for the biggest challenge of her life. As a mother of five—a child each that she and Cameron brought to the union from previous marriages, plus three they had together—she was struggling with the educational options available to her brood. “The school [my oldest] went to really expected the kids to be someone they were not and I watched their creative spirit squashed trying to live up to the expectations of someone who they weren’t. It was a painful journey,” she  recalls. “I wasn’t raised like that and neither was Jim.” Amis Cameron tried homeschooling, but it was too isolating for her kids. Then she got an idea. “I kicked into gear and founded MUSE, with my younger sister, Rebecca Amis, who has a Masters in Early Childhood Development. I had the vision of what the school should be and she had the educational background.”

Not only does the not-for-profit MUSE School work with children to help them learn in a think-outside-the-box manner that’s best for them, but it’s also in arguably the most ecologically conscious school in the country: a dye-free, toxin-free, pesticide-free zone. There are no plastics used, only clean, filtered water, and snacks and lunches for the kids that are 100 percent organic, much of which is grown in on campus gardens. MUSE has been so successful, it kicked off a whole new high-school section in Fall 2014.

To raise funds for the school, where a full 50 percent of the children are offered financial aid, six years ago Amis turned to the world she and Cameron know well: Hollywood. Her brainchild, Red Carpet Green Dress, takes on the fall-out in fashion, an industry creating millions of tons of waste annually. This sustainable dress design contest for budding designers earmarks the proceeds raised for MUSE scholarships. “The dresses are dyed without toxins, made in a way that reduces waste, and uses materials like organic silks,” she says. Winners nab the opportunity to be mentored by famed designers like Vivienne Westwood, Jeff Garner, Deborah Scott (who won an Oscar for her Titanic costumes), and Angelo Santos, and for their eco-friendly threads that get their turn on the carpet by famed figures at the internationally watched Oscars.

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