Ireland Basinger Baldwin is remarkably incognito; a born-and-raised Valley girl who still lives in a traditional one-level there, she traverses LA largely under-the-radar. Even with her arrestingly good looks—not least of which are those iconic Baldwin baby blues—she somehow blends in. And that’s just how she likes it; the only child of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, she conveys a comfort with solitude and (relative) anonymity that few people who grew up in the public eye possess.
“I do love LA, but I love the Valley the most. I’m a Valley girl. I grew up here. Anywhere else I go, I come home and I go, you know, LA is so cool because it’s such a melting pot of people,” she tells us on set at her home. “I’ve lived everywhere in California at this point, and I swear it’s like going to different countries; you go to Orange County and it’s different than the Valley and that’s different from East Side LA, and it’s just so different everywhere. We don’t even realize how beautiful it is.”
Her appreciation of her home state’s beauty is in her blood; her mom grew up on a sprawling farm and always filled their home with animals. As such, Ireland was destined to be a passionate animal rights activist.
“Growing up, we had 14-20 rescue and foster dogs at any given time at my house, always. Doing the math in my head, I have five dogs right now in this house, and it feels like I only have one. At my house I just lived in prior, I had 12,” she says, looking around her property as if searching for all the missing pups. “I grew up with dogs, cats, turtles, ducks, cows, fish, everything. Animals have always been one of the biggest parts of my life; that’s mostly inspired by my mother, since she’s such a huge animal freak. My mom and dad have been animal rights activists my whole life, actually since before I was born.”
Ireland has taken up the torch in a big way, working closely and very publicly with a number of animal protection agencies over the years. Right now, her biggest partnership is with SkyDog Ranch, a still-expanding horse rescue with sanctuaries in California and Oregon. She’s very outspoken in warning that many of the self-proclaimed animal rescue associations out there—particularly the ones who do much of their marketing on social media—are actually not what they seem.
“I’ve supported so many organizations that I’ve found out within the past few years are actually the worst, that are just so full of it,” she says with sadness in her voice. “There are some I can think of right now that trap these celebrities, have them come visit, smile, and post on Instagram, but you have no idea how these people actually got the animals that they have—AKA, they bought them. People go and think they’re doing good, but little do you know you’re supporting somebody who purchases exotic animals online. And they’re posing like they rescued all these cubs, and it’s just not true. These people have lost sight of what we’re doing here; it’s not about money or politics or lies. It’s about saving animals. I used to support these people, send money and fundraise. I took a step back and decided, no. I want to do my own thing; I want to do something that’s authentic, that down to the bone is about saving animals, and it’s not about stealing money from people.”
With all this in mind, Ireland has a very specific long goal: She wants to found her own animal rescue.
“Ten years from now, I want to have acquired enough money to put a down payment on an amazing ranch property somewhere in the US; I just buy the land and the barns and buy all the space and I just do it,” she says with palpable conviction. “I know it’s going to take a lot of time. I want veterinary care in there, I want people working around the clock, I want it to be a real organization; but I know in the beginning it’s going to probably just be me in my rain boots stomping around in the mud. And I’m okay with that.”
In the meantime, she’s working closely with SkyDog and constantly adopting and fostering her own gaggle of rescue animals at home. She also has some words of wisdom for anyone turning to social media to find animal rights groups to get involved with: Do your research.
“You can’t believe everything you read, especially what these people promote on Instagram. It’s horrible what they’re doing,” Ireland says with a grimace. “You really just need to reach out to people and talk to them; you can even reach out to me! My really good friend Michelle Cho, who works with The Gentle Barn, has worked with every animal agency across the board and she’s so knowledgeable. To be able to reach out to someone like that, or reach out to anyone who really knows their stuff. Just email people! Contact employees that used to work somewhere, express your interest and get the real deal.”
As someone who would rather spend her free time tramping around in fields with horses, it comes as no surprise that Ireland’s go-to daily uniform is a good pair of indigo jeans and a white tee. And we don’t blame her—the look clearly suits her.
“I always wear denim with boot heels and a motorcycle jacket; one of the looks I wore for this shoot is a look I do all the time, and to me that’s dressing up. That’s as dressy as I get,” she tells us. “I love the Jules. This jean is so comfortable and casual, but also makes me feel secure. I feel like you could dress this style up and go get drinks at a fun bar or keep it really casual and, like, water your plants around the house. I love high-waisted jeans more than anything. A pair that’s good on the butt and pushes everything up and around.”
As a native Angeleno, Ireland’s relationship with J BRAND goes way back, and she says it matches her unmoored sensibilities.
“J BRAND just feels very free to me; it just feels loose and not so up-tight or high-fashion, not snobby or bougie, like you can’t afford this or you will never look like this. It’s very down-to-Earth,” she says. “I try to look for brands that are environmentally friendly. It just feels real. Anyone can look at it and not feel intimidated or that it’s toxic. It’s more approachable but still cool—and fun, as it should be.”
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