Maggie Q looks right in her element as she wanders through Union Square’s Greenmarket, reaching to inspect bunches of locally grown flowers, vegetables and fruit. Wearing a logo tee from her new sustainable activewear line Qeep Up, she practically floats from stand to stand. In-person, the actress is much softer than the leather-clad villainesses she’s typically cast as. You likely know Maggie from her roles in action movies like Live Free or Die Hard, Mission Impossible III or the CW series Nikita. Her most recent series, Designated Survivor, was just picked up by Netflix.

Stephanie McClain

While she’s no less of a bad-ass in real life, her focus recently has been less big screen and more going green, as she combines her love for the environment with her entrepreneurial skills. We caught up with Maggie the day after her line—made of recycled plastic recovered from the ocean—had just launched. Called Qeep Up, it features soft fabrics in rich blue and white tie-dye patterns and gym wear so chic we would be happy sporting it all over town. Maggie visited The Beet to talk all things plant-based and sustainable, and to share how the hell we can get her killer body, which, at 40 years old, is truly a testament to her healthy lifestyle.

Q: How long have you been plant-based? And do you call yourself vegan, plant-based or something else?

MQ: I gave up meat 20 years ago. When I did it, my convictions were rooted in animal cruelty and environmental impact. That’s why I gave up meat. Because it wasn’t about me and vanity and health, my convictions were very strong—so I never fell off the wagon.

Q: Do you call yourself vegan, plant-based or something else?

MQ: I don’t [call myself vegan], because it has become a weird, negative term and people feel very judged by it. So I like plant-based better because it’s friendlier: It’s inclusive. You can’t judge people. They have to be where they’re at, and you have to accept them for where they are.

Q: Why and how did you start Qeep Up

MQ: My dream since I was 19 was always to create a company that would center around my passions, like sustainability. The dream became a reality two years ago, in that I realized it was possible because the technology was finally there. People were caring about it in a way they hadn’t before, so the timing was right, even though that’s not why I did it.

Q: What do you want people to know about your new line?

MQ: All of the pieces in the line are 100% recycled plastic from the oceans. It’s the first time it’s ever been done in activewear. Nobody’s really gone to the lengths that we did to create the R&D in the textile industry to create a fabric that is the same quality as other activewear fabrics on the market, except this is a conscious choice.

Photo by Greg Kadel

Q: Love the tie-dye, which is beautiful. Did you mean for it to look like the ocean?

MQ: It’s called ocean tie-dye, created by an Australian artist. This print will stay in the line, it won’t be seasonal. We thought it looked like the planet from a birds-eye view.

Q: It also seems really flattering, like a sort of camouflage. Was that intentional?

MQ: So flattering you can't believe it.

Q: Where do you manufacture it?

MQ: The plastic is collected in the US, milled here, and then shipped to LA, where the fabric is cut and sewn in Burbank. We call it Qeep Up Nation because we want to create a nation of consumers who care. So it doesn’t matter what age you are, what race you are, or what country you’re from, this is a global issue, and we have to create a new nation worldwide of people who give a shit.

Q: You also deeply care about the ocean, and you’re giving back, so tell me about the give-back efforts. 

MQ: It’s called The Ocean Tie-Dye Project. I’ve been fighting for oceans for the better part of 20 years. The groups that I wanted to benefit were people I had been working with, not people “in theory” who were doing something but people who were actually doing something, like Shawn Heindrichs, the founder of Blue Sphere Foundation, or Peter Knights, the head of WildAid. The ocean provides the oxygen we breathe, and we talk about the Amazon as being the lungs of the earth, but really the ocean is the lungs and the Amazon is the filter of our lungs.

Q: What’s your mantra or a saying that resonates with you?

MQ: My yoga teacher in New York is an older woman: Strong, beautiful, incredibly esoteric; sometimes she talks and you have absolutely no idea what she’s saying (laughs). She’s incredibly wise, and the method she’s created is my bible. She has these little pearls of wisdom that she’ll throw out, not for effect, she just says them because she thinks of them. But they resonate. So there was a woman in class one day who was complaining about a pose that didn’t work, and how she couldn’t do it. So my teacher adjusts her and walks away, and she says, “People! If something in your life isn’t working, it’s YOU.” I loved that. To me, it meant: Take responsibility for every action because it always has a reaction. Always look at yourself first.

 

Shop her line: qeepupnation.com