After only one season on Hulu’s romantic comedy Strictly Sexual: The Series, viewers have already fallen in love with 29-year-old Kristen Renton’s almost angelic character “Summer.”
Renton’s role as “Ima” on FX channel’s Tuesday night crime/drama Sons of Anarchy has made many love to hate the hard-nosed vixen. And her character as spoiled rich kid “Morgan Hollingsworth” on NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives may have stirred up envy in some.
With so many personalities played by this blonde bombshell lies one of her most important roles. This role yet not glamorous, but highly rewarding is humanitarian. Behind the many faces of those glistening eyes and sunny smile is a heart of 14-karat gold.
For as long as she can remember, this Denver, Colo.-born, Florida-raised beauty has spent much of her time saving the lives of animals in need. Not only does she work at two southern California animal shelters, but this angel of mercy personally fosters puppies.
When she is not prepping for her newest acting endeavor, Kristen divides her time between philanthropic efforts and raising her Boxer/ Bull Mastiff mix Roxy and pure-bred Boxer Cooper, which she shares with an ex-boyfriend.
So, are your dogs rescues?
Yes, they’re both rescues from Boxer Rescue Los Angeles. I work there and (at) another rescue called Tazzy Animal Rescue Fund out of Burbank. I would never purchase an animal, only rescue.
Adopt, not shop, huh? We need to have a lot more people promoting that. We need to get a lot of these animals out of the shelters and into good homes.
Exactly! We do a lot of rescues with the death row dogs that we pull right before they’re put down.
What else do you do for the rescues?
Because I’m in the public eye, I do a lot of fundraising whether through Twitter, Facebook. We throw different fundraisers throughout the year…I foster. I pick up dogs at shelters. I go to the kennels when I can and clean and feed dogs, give them baths. I do a little bit of everything.
You really get down and dirty with the dogs.
Absolutely! I shovel poo with everybody else. [Laughs]
How long have you been doing rescue work?
I’ve been doing rescue work my whole life. Even when I was living back in Florida, I would always donate to the ASPCA or Humane Society or Wildlife Fund. There’s not an animal that I wouldn’t want to save.
You foster animals as well. How long have you been doing that?
I have been fostering on and off since 2005, I believe. Last year, I started raising puppies because their mother had been killed. Their mother had passed away and the puppies were abandoned because the breeder didn’t want to deal with it. One of the ladies from my rescue went and grabbed them and I ended up raising them since they were five days old.
What sparked your passion for volunteer work?
Seeing the love that comes from these animals is completely unconditional. They could give a shit who you are, what background you come from, what religion you are. They don’t care. They just give you love. To get that kind of love is such a rewarding experience. And to actually see them find a home is such a beautiful thing, to see the way the lives of this family is enriched and vice versa. There’s nothing more beautiful than that.
They have such a blind way of viewing the world.
Yes! Exactly! And I think that human beings should take some notes from these animals because we judge people too quickly. We judge people too much and we base love on things that we shouldn’t base love on.
You seem to have a certain fondness for boxers.
I love all animals, but I get into Boxers so much because they have such personalities. Their faces are so expressive. They’re such loving creatures. I can’t even explain it. Each dog has its own personality. They are so loving. They all think they’re tiny dogs. They all think they’re Chihuahuas. They all want to sit on your lap and lick your face. They’re such family dogs and they love children. They’re just amazing creatures. You can look at them and see what they’re thinking through their eyes. I love them.
Did you always have pets growing up as a child?
I always had cats and I love cats. But there’s just something about dogs. Through Tazzy Fund, I work with cats but I was actually attacked by a large dog when I was younger. I knew it wasn’t the dog’s fault. It was protecting its owner and had been abused by children and it was very protective. With me being a child, I was unaware that there are some rules you have to follow when dealing with animals that had been abused. So I was always a little leery but working with this rescue, I’ve learned to see the other side.
A lot of people are traumatized for life after going through something like that. How did you get past it?
It took a lot, but I didn’t want to live my life without animals in it. I think people overlook the fact that it’s not the animal’s fault. A lot of the attacks that you see with dogs are provoked by us, the humans. It’s either behavior that has been taught or the dogs are put in a situation to where if it were us, we would do the exact same thing. If a guy came on my property, do you think I wouldn’t attack?
Your love for animals is evident. Do you ever take your dog on the set while filming?
Roxy is 95 pounds, so too much attention would be focused on her. But I have brought her to photo shoots before but not on actual filming sets.
Since Sons of Anarchy made its debut three seasons ago, it has steadily gained momentum and picked up fans. How did the show become so popular?
It’s a great show. This year, I think, all of our numbers doubled, which is really great. It’s been a wonderful year and I’m ready to get started next year.
Your character “Ima” is America’s favorite bad girl. What does she bring to the show?
I bring a lot of spice; that’s for sure. I’m the one everybody loves to hate. That’s okay. I’ll play that role and it’s good. [Laughs]
“Ima” shouldn’t be taken too lightly. She actually pulled a gun on someone in one episode.
I don’t know where that came from. I guess she decided to be a bad ass this year. It was a lot of fun to shoot; I’ll tell you.
She is so much different from your character “Summer” on Strictly Sexual.
I actually play a nice girl on that show. It’s been six half-hour episodes. They’re really funny. I compare it to Friends meets Sex in the City. It’s got the comedy of Friends and it’s very much about a group of guys and girls and the different situations they find themselves in. It has a bunch of sexual undertones but it’s very funny.