LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Katherine Schwarzenegger is not your average 21 year-old college student. She is the first-born child of ex-California Governor and Hollywood movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver.
But in her own right, Katherine is an author, and she raises money for charities including her uncle Anthony Shriver’s group, Best Buddies, a volunteer program to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Recently, Schwarzenegger teamed with luxury goods company Montblanc to promote a partnership in which Montblanc will donate to Best Buddies 11 percent of the money it earns from 11 stores over an 11-day period in March. She spoke with Reuters about it, her book, and what life is like now that her famous dad is back home after his term as governor.
Q: Both your parents have accomplished a lot in life. What traits do you think you inherited from them?
A: “They’re both so similar in their working minds. I think my dad is the kind of person who, no matter how much criticism he gets, keeps trucking right through and does exactly what he sets his mind to. So the ability to follow your dreams and your heart, I probably got from him. But I also got that from my grandma (Eunice Kennedy Shriver). When she was starting Special Olympics, people thought she was insane for doing it.”
Q: Your dad was a Hollywood star and governor. What was the difference in the two, for you?
A: “It’s definitely different going to visit your dad at work on a movie set and visiting him in the state Capitol. I was in 7th or 8th grade when he ran for governor. The biggest change for me was having California Highway Patrol officers follow us everywhere, which was a huge thing to get used to for me and my siblings (laughs)...I also think being a politician’s child brings more pressure to be on your best behavior than being an actor’s child.”
Q: Has life returned to what it was, pre-governor?
A: ”I don’t think it can ever go back. We can’t get rid of the fact that for seven and a-half years our dad was a politician. In those seven and a-half years we became the people we are today...Then, of course, coming home and having my dad always there is another interesting adjustment (laughs). He has to keep in mind I‘m not 13 anymore like I was when he ran for governor. I live in my own apartment. I am in college.
Q: For you, has your name been a help or a hindrance?
A: “It depends if people like my dad or not. If they don’t like him, you’re totally in trouble because you’re related. If they do like him, then they automatically love you.”
Q: Other than being a supportive family member, why get involved in this venture with Best Buddies and Montblanc?
A: “Many people are afraid of those who have intellectual disabilities. I remember in high school my friends were terrified. It’s important to show that they are normal people who enjoy friendship and sports and working on projects.”
Q: How did you go about showing that?
A: “I was in charge of the Best Buddies group in high school and recall many times where my friends were out of their comfort zone when they partnered with someone on an art project or participated in a soccer game. But 45 minutes out of their day playing kickball makes the other person’s entire week.”
Q: You published a book last year about body image called “Rock What You’ve Got: Secrets to Loving Your Inner and Outer Beauty from Someone Who’s Been There and Back.” At 21, don’t you think you’re a little young to have “been there and back”?
A: “In high school I was absolutely miserable with my body and my appearance and didn’t feel confident in my own skin. Then I went off to college and realized what a waste of time it was to focus on that. I think the reality is that if you’re 20, 25 or 30 years-old, you’ve been there and back, hopefully.”
Q: Was there an incident prompting you to write the book?
A: “I have so many young girls in my family and in my life and I saw how they talk about their bodies and their appearance. Eight-year-old girls looking in the mirror and saying ‘I‘m fat.’ At that age you shouldn’t have those concerns. I knew I had to write something.”
Q: You could do so many things. Why go to college?
A: “I would never not think of getting a college education. I’ve taken several classes that have sparked my interest in the issue of body image and women’s role in the media. That definitely drove my interest in writing parts of the book.”
Q: What is your ultimate goal?
A: “I want to leave my footprint in the world and change something for the better. I don’t know if it’s going to be by talking to young girls or my various other interests. If I’ve helped one person or more, that’s my biggest goal.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte