The Multi-Faceted Dedication Of Patricia Arquette

By Sydney Radclyffe for Box News

An acclaimed actress, philanthropist, newly-minted writer and longtime friend of Box Media, Patricia Arquette is used to wearing many hats. Box Media CEO Clare Munn sat down with Arquette to talk about her career and creative pursuits, her activism around better sanitation systems in developing communities, the commitment she shows to promoting women’s equality in the workforce, and how she manages to juggle it all while staying sane.

With multiple awards on her shelves and current Emmy nominations for two TV series in the same year, The Act and Escape from Dannemora, Arquette’s name is certainly of Hollywood fame, yet she has arguably achieved as much of value off-screen as on it. She formed after the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010, a non-profit organisation which educates and supports in the implementation of healthy, ethical, eco-friendly sanitation and composting, as well as larger community planning and construction projects, initially working in Haiti and now currently in Kenya, Uganda, Colombia and Nicaragua. 

More recently, Arquette was vocally involved in water preservation efforts at Standing Rock, Missouri, standing with indigenous activists and community leaders in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline crude oil project. This homegrown activism focused toward the US came out again in 2015, when Arquette used her visibility to advocate for equal wages and fair treatment of women in the film industry during her Academy Awards acceptance speech. Seeming to galvanise the entire community, this presaged the ongoing conversation around justice for women in Hollywood which currently seems to have the whole world’s attention, and which Arquette wholeheartedly supports. 

Perhaps Arquette’s life can best be characterised by this kind of contrast, between the glamour of the red carpet and the hands-on work of charitable activism. She herself is unfazed by such vicissitudes, and has no sympathy for the squeamish attitudes of some in regard to the causes which she champions. For her, the key is inter-community collaboration to raise meaningful awareness and provoke true understanding of the problems faced by struggling, marginal or ‘far flung’ communities, with an example being international school-to-school fundraising programs. 

In this way, Arquette is as much an educator as an entertainer. This year she is completing a long-awaited memoir which takes us through her life and career, as well as the tragic death of her activist sister Alexis Arquette due to HIV; painstakingly examining the effect this had on Patricia and her work, the volume promises to be equally poignant and illuminating. Despite this latest literary turn, Arquette states that she in fact has dyslexia and that for her, “writing is the most terrifying art form”. At the same time, the activity takes her back to childhood, when it was a solitary act of self-soothing which her mother nurtured and encouraged.

Although Arquette recognises the importance of self-care, she often has to remind herself to slow down and take care of her own needs. After experiencing some physical symptoms of ill health, she was told by a doctor to rest and was forbidden from working, reading, and even watching serious films in the evening. Such symptoms, according to Arquette, are “really just an accumulation of many years of bad behaviour.” Yet it’s clear that in this, as with everything, she brings a tireless work ethic and refuses to abdicate responsibility for herself and her actions; if this is ‘bad behaviour’, then perhaps the world could use a little more of it.