Shantel VanSanten has one of those faces that can launch one thousand ships. But, after chatting with her, it was evident that she is so much more than a pretty face.
Shantel Van Santen is a storyteller. Her journey in this industry bagan at a young age,where she did catalogue work and commercial work. From there, her career turned into a story of its own. Playing in projects like “The Boys” and “For All Mankind”, VanSanten has managed to captivate viewers and inspire fans.
Imagista: What came first, acting or modeling?
Shantel VanSanten: Modeling came to me at a young age working for catalogues and doing commercials, but I was also a very creative kid. As an escape and an outlet I was in theatre classes and camps quite often. I am grateful for modeling jobs, but it was something I was fortunate to do to make money and never was a serious career choice.
Imagista: Both acting and being a model have to do with your ability to tell stories, have you always considered yourself a storyteller?
Shantel VanSanten: Of course telling stories is what I live for. To discover characters and uncover how to connect myself to them. To escape into another life, another brain, another human, another time… it feeds my soul.
Imagista: You have been in so many different projects, how do you prepare for your roles?
Shantel VanSanten: Prep for every project is different based on the timeframe I have and the extent of research I need to do for background. I love when I get the opportunity to educate myself on an era or lifestyle which I have never experienced. There are a few things I consistently do to start creating a character. First is a music playlist for them which supports the journey and helps me connect. Music is an important tool for me with emotional scenes as well. Also, I start journaling memories for the character which help me build a more fully rounded experience to draw from.
Imagista: You play Becca Butcher on the series “The Boys”, can you tell me a little bit about your character?
Shantel VanSanten: In season one we discover Becca Butcher is Billy Butcher’s wife through flashbacks. She works for Vought and does PR for the supes, specifically working alongside Homelander until her disappearance. Butcher assumes she is dead and has been killed when his hunt for her leads him nowhere. We find out in a cliffhanger at the end of season one things aren’t what anyone could ever have imagined. I know this is vague, but I want those who haven’t seen it to be able to enjoy the shocking surprises. All I will tease is, Becca has a bigger part in Season 2, and it’s even more shocking than season 1!
Imagista: Do you and Becca share any similarities?
Shantel VanSanten: On the surface no. Her life is very far removed from mine. But some experiences I could relate to and fought to share parts of mine through her. Becca is like a Mama lion. I would like to believe I am as ferociously strong and fiercely loyal as she is, but I am always inspired by the women I play, which leads me to believe I fall short of their wonderful qualities.
Imagista: What has this experience been like for you?
Shantel VanSanten: It was crazy because I was shooting “The Boys” while simultaneously working on “For All Mankind.” They are completely different shows and characters. I remember at one point I was shooting extremely intense scenes in Toronto all day and had to take a redeye flight back to Los Angeles to shoot some devastatingly emotional scenes the next morning with only three hours of sleep. It wasn’t always easy to do but they are equally incredible opportunities so I found ways to juggle them. Becca’s story was so important for me to tell on a lot of different levels. I had the privilege of working with Eric Kripke, the showrunner, on “Timeless” and I feel so grateful he allowed me to breathe life into a crazy character on another show!!
Imagista: You are also playing Karen Baldwin on the series For All Mankind, which was renewed for a second season,what can you tell us about this role?
Shantel VanSanten: This role has been one of the most challenging and rewarding roles I’ve had thus far in my career. The writing and story on the show is on a whole other level and a true dream come true. They craft complex characters and weave them together so beautifully using space and an alternate history as a background for their wold. In the first season of the show Karen Baldwin is an “astronaut wife” if a label must be said but as the season unfolds we learn the complexities and sacrifices of this life. I will tell you, who you think she is won’t be how you feel in the end. She has taught me more about empathy than any character I have ever played. I didn’t always agree with her opinions or choices but found ways to understand her as a human and eventually love her so dearly.
Imagista: Are you working on any other projects you want to share with our readers?
Shantel VanSanten: Right now just filming “For All Mankind” since we finished season 2 of “The Boys” recently. This role requires a lot of my heart and I am fully invested in the stories we are telling. I am a lucky girl and count my blessings to have been given jobs recently which require me to dig deep and challenge my abilities. I will look forward to the next project when we finish this season. For me staying present is so important when I am on a project.
In my personal life my project is to raise funds for the American Lung Association’s initiative called “Lung Force”. My grandmother passed away from lung cancer and ever since then I have been on a journey to keep her spirit alive by educating others about the number one cancer killer, lung cancer, and raise funds for research and patients.
Imagista: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in regards to your craft?
Shantel VanSanten: “One can hope to have a career which is evolutionary not revolutionary.” In this way I am allowed to continually grow and learn without comparing. I am allowed to make mistakes, try things, fail, fall, then fly and soar again. It isn’t always easy but it is worth it.
Imagista: If you weren’t in this industry, what do you think you would be doing?
Shantel VanSanten: Writing. I do this privately as an outlet but in another life I think I live on a secluded ranch on a lake, in a forest, writing my days away.