Mia McKenna-Bruce

Into the Wild With Mia McKenna-Bruce

The star of Vampire Academy and Persuasion on how the natural world makes Hollywood living a little bit easier.

Mia McKenna-Bruce currently appears in Vampire Academy, where she plays a star student with healing water powers. (Normal, yes?) You might also recognize her from Persuasion, where she starred with Dakota Johnson as a Regency-era lovestruck teen. In real life, Mia’s more moonstruck, and she called us to talk about it while shooting her next movie in Greece. (Again, totally normal.)

On Vampire Academy, your character has water magic. Is water your wild element, too?

Totally. I’m also a water sign, a Cancer. And I do act like a water element because I’m so good at going with the flow. As an actor, my job takes me all over the place, so I have to be up and ready to go wherever, whenever. I'm just riding the wave! And I love a kind of uncertainty. One of my favorite quotes is, “When nothing is done, anything is possible.” And water is never done moving, you know? So it’s perfect.

You grew up in London. Does being from a big city make you more or less connected to nature as an adult?

Both! Some of my favorite memories as a kid were camping or getting to go to the sea. That was really abnormal for me, because I lived in such an urban environment. So I never took moments in nature for granted, and I still don’t.

How do you use nature in your professional life?

When I’m trying to think something through, I like to get up, go on a walk, spend some time outdoors… It helps me overcome some professional nerves and anxiety, especially when I know there’s going to be a camera on me, because it’s like, “Actually, I am insignificant in the best way. There’s a whole universe out there. It’s the most freeing thing!”

Mia McKenna-Bruce

You mentioned that you travel constantly for work. Vampire Academy was shot in Spain and Portugal; Persuasion was done in Bath; now you’re in Greece. (Jealous, BTW.) Do you have any good tips for getting over jet lag?

Oh my god, open the windows, always! And also, again, take a walk. For me, I can instantly feel at home as soon as I know what’s out there. Once I arrive somewhere, I’m like, “Great, here I am; how soon can I get outside? And then it’s, “Okay, how can I get to the nearest meal?!” That definitely helps too! And if it’s nighttime, just look up and look at the moon.

We just had a full moon. Do you think they affect people?

Oh, they fully do. I can never sleep on a full moon. There’s too much energy.

Wait, is a full moon an energy vampire?

Ha! Is it? I think ultimately it’s just a very useful, very beautiful way to see at night. There are some really good villains in the things I’ve been in, definitely on Vampire Academy, and they’re better at actually sucking the life out of you. That’s the real danger, not the moon!

Mia McKenna-Bruce

Please tell us your favorite animal fact.

My favorite animals are elephants. And my favorite fact about them is that they use dirt and mud instead of SPF. They protect their skin from the sun by just getting really dirty! I think that’s great. I wish I could get away with it!

At Wild Elements, our motto is “Let good grow wild.” What does that mean to you?

To me, that kind of says, “the most beautiful parts of this world are the parts left untouched.” It’s so clear that when we leave things in their natural state and let them be, they never disappoint us. The freedom is what’s beautiful.

Watch Mia on Vampire Academy now on Netflix.