German actress Annika Ernst has her fingers in many pies. She speaks to Discover Germany, Austria & Switzerland about her latest project, tips for a more sustainable lifestyle, the needs of older people in our society, and much, much more.

How did you become an actress? Has this always been your dream profession?

A. Ernst: It actually has! I had already performed my own sketches in front of my family when I was in primary school. This was my first stage, so to speak.

You live in Berlin. What makes this city so special to you? Why is Berlin your chosen home?

A. Ernst: I love the city’s history and its unbelievable cultural diversity that you can find at every corner. Additionally, Berlin has a fantastic cinema and theatre scene.

How do you choose your roles? What is important to you in the process?

A. Ernst: I am a person that loves variety and I constantly look for new challenges – that’s also how I approach choosing my roles. I love to play multifaceted characters through which I can enter an entirely different world and therefore am able to leave my comfort zone.

Let’s speak about Blutige Anfänger – what can viewers look forward to in this new ZDF crime series?

A. Ernst: The series is narrated in a really quick and modern way; the team of young investigators’ overall approach already distinguishes itself from ‘classic’ crime thrillers through the fact that police cadets have to solve the cases via sometimes quite unconventional methods, in the series.

The episode Nachtwache in which you play deals with the lack of caregivers in Germany’s retirement and nursing homes. You also advocate the needs of older people through your work with HelpAge Deutschland e.V. In what way do you believe older people fall behind today and how can we change that?

A. Ernst: I think it’s really important to keep one’s eyes and ears open for older people in everyday life. Especially in larger cities, more and more older people find themselves on the margins of society through gentrification, and live in solitude. Sometimes it’s just little things we can all do to help. For example, when we see that older people need assistance with their grocery shopping. The greatest thing when helping out is the conversations that come about – in the end, I often have the feeling that I received way more than I gave.

You’ve been entirely vegan again since the beginning of 2019. Why? What’s the reason behind this decision and why should we all put more emphasis on a plant-based diet?

A. Ernst: First and foremost, I’m vegan because I simply love the taste. I love the plant-based diet as I feel way fitter and more balanced. Additionally, us consumers have more power than we think we do – we can actually accelerate a change in economy and industry through our habits and ways of consumption. Of course, each person can only contribute a small part – but many small parts result in something bigger in the end.

Last year, you also lived entirely plastic-free for a month. How hard was that? Was that even possible in our society?

A. Ernst: At the beginning I had profound respect for this ‘plastic-free challenge’, but it was actually way easier in the end than I initially thought – Berlin has many great weekly markets and several plastic-free shops that I discovered during this time. It only gets hard with products from the refrigerated section; apart from that, you can find many plastic-free alternatives. To live entirely without plastic permanently is probably quite hard but I also believe that we can achieve quite a lot if everyone is doing one’s own stint.

Do you have any general tips for a more sustainable everyday life?

A. Ernst: Only buy unpacked fruits and vegetables – they already have natural packaging! And bring your own box for the deli counter, as well as your own coffee-to-go cup. Do a vegan or vegetarian day sometimes. Change to green power – it’s not much more expensive than ‘regular power’. Clothes don’t have to be new – there are great second-hand shops and exchange platforms on the internet. In general, go without over-consumption – it doesn’t only save money but you also learn to be happy about individual things again. And very important: don’t forget to have fun. It’s great to do one’s bit for a better world – each in their own way. Additionally, I find exchanging ideas with like-minded people important. That’s why I attend events like the ‘be a mover’ Daimler talk – to get inspired by future-orientated solution approaches, and to learn new things.

What else is planned for 2020?

A. Ernst: I will cross the Alps in summer which will definitely be a challenge – I will go by myself and without a mobile phone!

What other dreams and wishes do you have for the future?

A. Ernst: I hope that my family and I will stay healthy for a long time – that’s the most important thing for me.

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