The creature is otherworldly with the face of a Botticelli and the curvy, sinewy body of a reptile. Jenna Dewan Tatum - dancer, actress, wife of Channing Tatum - is also an animal rights activist featured in a just-released ad by PETA. She isn't the slightest bit worried about being associated with the sometimes controversial organization, saying, "One of the best things about PETA is the attention they've brought to animal rights because of their radical ways."
Posing nude, covered in body paint to draw attention to the barbaric ways in which exotic animals are killed for purses, shoes and wallets was not much of a leap for Jenna. She recalls sending in an application to join PETA when she was still in elementary school. "I was a vegetarian because I understood that animals were alive and had moms," she says. "Now I'm a vegan because I read a piece on Huffington Post about an owner of a dairy farm charged with cruelty to the cows."
Jenna realized she wanted to be the face of the new campaign "Wearing Exotic Skins Kills: Leave Wildlife Out of Your Wardrobe" after PETA sent her a short video showing how the animals are killed. Many are skinned while still alive. "It was really awful and sad," Tatum says. "And many people don't care because they aren't cute, furry animals." She also realized that she herself had a snakeskin purse that was a gift from a designer. "It was really cute," she admits. But she threw it away to take it out of circulation.
Posing for the shocking new ad was initially a no-brainer for Tatum. "Growing up as a dancer, you're immune from modesty," she says with a laugh. She recalls being on tour with Janet Jackson and doing costume changes in front of scores of other dancers and stagehands. "Dancers are very comfortable with their bodies, and this was for a great cause. I just wanted to make sure it was classy and sexy," she says. Deciding to do it was easier than actually doing it. She had to stand still for five hours while a body painter turned her into a snake. And then she had to balance on a log six feet in the air. Her main thought during the photo shoot was, "Please don't let me fall off this log."
Like many others, Jenna was "blown away" by the resulting photo. "It is striking, sexy, beautiful and powerful," says Tatum, "It grabs your attention and makes you wonder why I'm painted like a snake." Husband Channing Tatum approved, she says, "He was excited. He thought it was very sexy and hot."
As part of the campaign, Jenna Duwan Tatum also worked with energy muse jewelry to design a bracelet, part of whose proceeds will benefit PETA. "I thought: What if animals had a voice?" she recalls, "So I designed a bracelet to honor the animals and that represents the wearer's inner peace." She claims that the bracelet goes with everything, and that she has yet to take hers off.
Jenna vows to continue to advocate for fair treatment of animals, and peppers her conversation with pleas to buy "faux" animal products. "My goal is for people to live more consciously," she affirms. And it's clear that she is only asking others to do what she herself is doing.