You’ll recognize actress and activist Shantel VanSanten from hit shows like One Tree Hill, The Boys, Shooter, and The Flash as well as Apple TV+’s critically acclaimed drama series For All Mankind, which has returned for a third season. Here, we spoke to the star about her new series, her three wedding ceremonies, and what’s next. T
Photo Credit: Emma McIntyreTell us about Karen’s journey in season 3 of For All Mankind.
We have now gone through two decades with Karen and are entering the 90s to a very exciting chapter of her life. Karen was ignited at the end of season 2 when she sold the Outpost to Sam. She took that spark and her new found love of risk taking forward to forge a purpose all her own. Becoming a wildly successful business woman who globally franchised the Outpost, and is now opening a hotel in space! I mean who would have guessed the housewife we met in season 1 would not just have these dreams but chase them and succeed. She has seen the women before her, like her best friend Tracy, pave the way and I believe, finally found her time to step into a role that really fulfills her.
The first episode sets up the hard work and successes Karen has had for the last 10 years. But quickly we watch her experience yet another huge loss. Karen is one of the most resilient women I know. How she overcomes devastation and allows herself to evolve is inspiring to me. She has more fight left in her and won’t be set back. Karen’s journey in season 3 is about using her voice and power for what matters most to her– the ambitions, the people, the values, the dreams she has and will make happen.
Each season has taken place in a different decade so far. Which has been your favorite time to play Karen and why? What resonates?
I really loved the challenge of playing in a time period I never lived through. To do the research and inform myself of historical events, laws, ways of living, global and social issues, music.. anything I didn’t know but allows me to play a more well-rounded character is so much fun. Also, anytime I get to change the hair, makeup or wardrobe to transform me out of my modern self and fully become a character is rewarding. For this reason season one was so fun. Establishing an authentic time in history before our show changed it to its own alternate timeline was trippy.
For me being in the 90s for season 3 resonates the most. While the world may have some differences, in doing my background work, I had memories, music, news and so much from my own life to use that I remember. It feels like the more we get into the character’s lives and move through time the deeper I get invested and hopefully that translates to the audience as well.
Congrats on your recent marriage. You did three different ceremonies! How did you take all that on while filming a show? And what was the significance of doing it that way?
Thanks so much! Well planning a wedding while working was fun and any time not discussing Mars was spent wedding talking. I mean the opening episode of the season with a wedding in space set the bar high. We waited until I was done with filming the season to have both wedding ceremonies. Our plan was never to do three weddings. We had one in California with family and friends who lived near us. And one in my hometown in Minnesota so my grandfather and other family didn’t have to miss out on our special day. Then life threw a curve ball, my grandfather unexpectedly passed on Fathers Day. In the midst of my grief I turned to Victor and said I wanted to honor my grandparents and the foundation of love they showed me by going to have a civil ceremony on their anniversary date which was August 9. So we set a new ball in motion to get married two weeks later. We went to Pasadena City Hall with just us and our parents. It was intimate and perfect. The other two ceremonies we kept small and were really special to celebrate with loved ones. We made jokes all season about how Victor got to look into the future 25 years and see what I will look like when I’m older and he still chose me. The prosthetics didn’t scare him away!
Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre
You are a big supporter of the American Lung Association. Why is this such a personal cause? How has working with the organization changed your life? And what is the most important thing you’ve learned?
My grandmother Doris meant the world to me and we had a very close bond. When she passed away from lung cancer nine years ago, as a non-smoking woman, I felt I needed to channel my heartbreak into action. I realized I am the living legacy of her love and I want to honor her by educating and advocating for lung cancer. Through each fundraiser or event, I have been able to see actual change being made. From patients having more funding and support, to grandmothers now LIVING with stage 4 lung cancer. From doctors finding new treatments to help fight lung cancer to my Team DD raising almost $200,000 since she passed. The most important thing I have learned is how education can save lives. Lung Cancer is the number one cancer killer. And it can affect anyone, even non-smokers!! My grandmother got it from radon, A colorless odorless gas which was in the basement of her home. It’s the second leading cause and something we can help prevent if we test our homes! Go to lung.org for more information.
You post a lot of your very intense workouts on Instagram. How do you stay motivated, especially with such a busy work schedule? Do you post these as motivation for others or motivation for yourself?
For me working out is almost a form of meditation. It’s an hour or so of my day just for me. It helps my mental headspace and I love challenging myself. I often have to remind myself to not judge when I post and be proud of my daily accomplishments. Progress isn’t linear and I think to be able to show yourself kindness when you are working on yourself both physically and mentally is crucial. I post to hold myself accountable and also hopefully motivate others. I would never want someone to compare themselves. It is hard not to and I struggle too with this. Instead I am hoping to have a community encouraging one another and supporting healthy daily habits. I know plenty of my friends and I write to say how their workout gave us the nudge we needed to get out there today!
What can you share about your upcoming projects?
I have a movie coming out called American Murder — amazing announcements will happen soon to share where you can see it. Also I don’t think it’s the last we have seen of Nina Chase on FBI!