Joanna Krupa came under fire this week after unveiling a provocative new PETA ad — in which she wears only a cross — deemed "totally inappropriate" and exploitative by the Catholic League. The outrage is exactly what the Dancing with the Stars alum expected and wanted, she tells TVGuide.com, because controversy is "the only way" to alert others to a cause. "Sometimes I am ashamed of being a human being because of what we created and how we hurt the defenseless and less fortunate," Krupa says. "That is shocking and despicable to me. All I've done is to raise awareness through a controversial ad that I am truly proud of." See what else Krupa has to say about the criticism, what positive reaction she's received and her plans for future ads.
TVGuide.com: Who came up with the idea for the PETA ad? Why the Catholic theme?
Joanna Krupa: When PETA approached me to do an ad again, my team told them we wanted to make sure the concept is controversial, sadly, because that's the only way to get your message out there. It takes controversial photos for us to think about pressing issues. Otherwise, we would rather go on watching and debating Jon and Kate [Gosselin]'s financial fights or Lady Gaga's costumes, while millions of helpless animals are dying. We all brainstormed and came up with the church theme, which I love.
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TVGuide.com: Did you anticipate this reaction?
Krupa: The reaction is far better than I expected. Of course I was prepared to earn criticism and create controversy, but that was the whole point — to stir up emotions. To make people think, talk, discuss and direct attention to the horrific fact that millions of innocent animals are being euthanized each year. Millions!
TVGuide.com: Are you bothered by the criticism?
Krupa: I respect [that] everyone has his own sensitivities. But I, like many, see no clash or contradiction between a partially nude body and a cross. I am a proud Catholic and I am sure God is looking down shaking His head in disagreement with the Catholic League's comments. ... My mom is very supportive while being a very old-school Catholic. ... The cross I am wearing in the ad represents pain and hope, which is all these animals have when they are dumped in shelters or put in tiny cages and bred their whole life, and hope is what we are trying to bring to this extremely tragic situation.
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TVGuide.com: PETA has been criticized for using "shock tactics." Does that take away from the causes they're trying to highlight?
Krupa: If it wasn't for PETA's shocking ads and videos, most people like myself would never be aware of the troubling truth. It wasn't until my sister accidently opened a PETA link to their investigations on China's fur farms and how they skin these poor animals alive while they bleed to death [that] I took the stand for animals, not caring about the possible consequences, and posing nude for the anti-fur campaign. Human beings created this and I believe my job as a human being is to make noise to put a stop to all this cruelty.
TVGuide.com: What kind of positive reaction have you received?
Krupa: I have received tons of amazing, positive e-mails and Twitters supporting me and congratulating me for standing up for these poor creatures and ignoring what the Catholic League is saying. Some said that the Catholic League needs to worry about the half-billion dollars they spent on child abuse cases and not criticize an innocent ad to save millions of animals and spread the awareness.
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TVGuide.com: What can people do?
Krupa: If you suspect animal cruelty, call the right sources. Don't buy fur, adopt from shelters instead of buying from breeders and puppy stores, and make sure to spay or neuter your pet.
TVGuide.com: After this, what's your next ad going to look like?
Krupa: I did my anti-fur campaign some years ago, noticed it made an impact and saw how several fashion designers now have switched from fur to fake fur. PETA played a vital role here; I know that as a fact. Many other celebrities are doing an amazing job drawing attention to the brutality against animals and I know they'll make an impact. If there is another pressing issue, be it for animals or children, I will always do what I can when asked. For here and today, I simply want to make sure people know that this Christmas they can be an angel by adopting a pet from a shelter.