Evanna Lynch Explores Animal Rights Activism, Connecting with Autistic “Harry Potter” Fans, and Dumbledore’s Sexuality

When it comes to fighting for animal rights, Harry Potter alumna Evanna Lynch needs no introduction. Since her graduation from the role of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film franchise, she has been unabashedly advocating for a more sustainable and just society through numerous partnerships with nonprofit organizations such as Million Dollar Vegan and the podcast Talking Tastebuds. In a wide-ranging interview with Business Insider, Lynch shone the spotlight on her animal rights activism and reflected upon her Potter journey.

The first topic of the interview was Lynch’s activism efforts. Her dedication and passion for issues that she cares deeply about are evident through her relentless advocacy for them and the concrete steps that she adopts in her life to walk her talk. In addition, she keeps in touch with her fellow Potter costars to build on one another’s work.

We all sort of have our things, you know? Bonnie [Wright] is an environmentalist. Emma [Watson] is a feminist. Katie [Leung] is fighting for racial equality — and they’re all interlinked. They’re all about social justice and equality. Certain things lately have triggered us to be more in contact with each other and to talk about what are meaningful ways to address the issues.

Together with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Lynch’s latest fierce fight is a series of medical experiments conducted at John Hopkins University, where researchers were using owl brains to study the effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). She expressed her outrage at the experiments, sharing that her time in the Potter universe enabled her to find her connection with owls.

‘Harry Potter’ made me aware of these creatures — they’re not just mythical creatures. They’re real intelligent animal [sic]. All animal testing is inhumane, and there has to be better ways.

Speaking of her Potter experiences, Lynch went on to discuss whether her on-screen character, Luna Lovegood, might have become an activist herself.

I always wondered about that — would Luna have been an activist? Because she’s not a fiery character. She very much accepts the present moment and kind of seems to go with the flow. I don’t know how much good that would have done the animal rights movement.

While Luna might not be a champion for animal rights, she most certainly is a champion for marginalized communities in societies around the world. In particular, Lynch revealed that she receives a lot of fan mail from autistic Potter fans. Although the actress admitted that she will never be able to fully empathize with them, she shared that she faced similar challenges building relationships with others due to her childhood struggles with eating disorders.

You just want people to kind of see your heart, to see how you feel, but it’s hard to communicate that. Growing up, I always felt so out of place. And I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Why do I feel different [from] other people? Why do they have an easier time just fitting in? How do they know how to be funny, how to be cool? I felt that way but felt bad about it. But then Luna comes along, and she is that way to society, but she doesn’t feel bad about it. She just completely accepts herself. I think it’s similar to autistic people. Obviously, everyone’s very different, and every case of autism is different, but I think that they see that Luna is somebody who doesn’t quite fit in.

Before the interview concluded, Lynch touched on Dumbledore’s sexuality, which has been a contentious issue within the fandom. She insisted that Rowling was not trying to make the series retroactively more inclusive, but rather had plans to introduce Dumbledore’s identity much earlier on already.

Years before the Grindelwald franchise, she told me he was gay, and years before it was even announced, she told me that he was gay. I was trying to ship Luna with someone, asking, ‘Can Luna be with someone like Dumbledore? Can you make someone like that?’ And she was like, ‘No, I don’t think so. I really think Dumbledore would be gay.’ So people saying, ‘Oh, it’s just exploitative. It’s just trying to get on the woke train,’ it’s absolutely not. I think it was such an integral part of his character that she thought deeply about, and I think they’re handling it sensitively because she doesn’t want to sensationalize it.

If there’s one thing that shines through during the actress and activist’s interview, it’s that Luna Lovegood has become an integral part of Evanna Lynch, inspiring her to be proud of who she is and to unapologetically stand up for causes that she believes in. As Lynch asserted, “She’s just a little bit off-center and more of a misfit, yet she manages to accept herself despite being ostracized for being ‘weird.’ That to me was so inspiring growing up.” It looks like the Ravenclaw witch is still inspiring her in her activism today!

Press Release

Evanna Lynch Slams JHU's Owl Experiments As University Dean Faces PETA Protest

Harry Potter Actor Joins Group in Demanding an End to School's Torment of Beautiful Owls in Laboratory

Actor Evanna Lynch—otherwise known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series—has just sent a letter on PETA's behalf calling on the president of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to put an end to the school's horrific brain experiments on barn owls. To coincide with the campaign, tomorrow, PETA protesters will gather in front of the home of JHU School of Medicine Dean Paul Rothman to ask that he shut down the admittedly worthless and apparently illegal experiments happening on his watch.

"In nature, these majestic nocturnal birds have territories that span several miles," writes Lynch, whose respect and affinity for owls grew out of her Harry Potter experience. "At Johns Hopkins, they live under fluorescent lights in an enclosure the size of a walk-in closet. They're eventually killed so that their brains can be removed and examined. There can be no ethical justification for this grotesque cruelty."

In these painful tests—which would make the Cruciatus Curse look like child's play—experimenters cut into owls' skulls, implant electrodes in their brains, lock them in restraining devices, and then bombard them with noises and lights.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to experiment on"—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Lynch's letter to JHU President Ronald J. Daniels follows.

Ronald J. Daniels
President of [t]he Johns Hopkins University

Dear President Daniels,

I was saddened and upset after my friends at PETA told me about a cruel experiment being conducted at Johns Hopkins University. Owls play a large part in the Harry Potter series, and I have tremendous respect for these magnificent animals.

In the laboratory of Shreesh Mysore, experimenters cut into barn owls' skulls, insert electrodes into their brains, restrain them, put headphones on them to force them to listen to sounds, and record their brain activity. I am deeply saddened by this vicious treatment of these birds and am urging you to shut down this laboratory immediately.

In nature, these majestic nocturnal birds have territories that span several miles. At Johns Hopkins, they live under fluorescent lights in an enclosure the size of a walk-in closet. They're eventually killed so that their brains can be removed and examined. There can be no ethical justification for this grotesque cruelty.

These experiments are done with the intention of understanding attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but there is overwhelming evidence that the results of most experiments on animals can't be applied to humans. There are better ways to study this condition.

Please end these brain experiments on owls. Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Evanna Lynch

 

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Elizabeth Grace

I (often unsuccessfully) wear many hats. Officially, I'm a full-time student. Unofficially, I'm a debater, quizbowler, writer, content editor, and aspiring journalist after graduation. Secretly, I'm a film/TV shows nerd, esports enthusiast, and F1 fan. Read my articles at: linktr.ee/elizabeth.gh

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