Seven years ago, HBO® introduced the world to True Blood, one of the most outrageous and compelling dramas ever. One of the best-known (and loved) characters on the show is Pam, played by Kristin Bauer van Straten. An accomplished artist and outspoken animal rights activist, Kristin spoke with DIRECTV about True Blood, her famous “man hands,” and what we can do to help protect endangered animals.

This is it, the last season of True Blood. How crazy will things get for the residents of Bon Temps?

Well, it’s True Blood so… crazy! But I’ll also say, having seen the first promo released, no crazier than we’ve seen in the not-too-distant past for people in New Orleans. So, what happens on True Blood is obviously fictionalized—by some of the best in the business, I might add—but what the people of Bon Temps experience is relatable and real. It’s a small town of people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Some of them pull together and some turn on each other, as we’ve seen in real life. Hard times in life are hard—hard times on a TV show make for great viewing.

What do you think the lasting legacy of True Blood will be? You’ve certainly got legions of devoted fans that are already heartbroken.

Well, I am heartbroken right with them!

It is so hard to know what the legacy will be. I know for us, as we wrap up the year, and think about our lives seven years ago, so much life has been lived as a group, as a family. I know I will never forget this incredible experience, these people, and I hope TV viewers won’t either.

When you think back to when you started out on the show, how different are things now with the journey that Pam has gone through? Is this how you envisioned it would go for Pam?

It is much better than what I envisioned for Pam, or had any reason to expect. The writers have always surprised me with many more layers of Pam, every season. They have once again this year given me challenges, and [given] depth to the Pam we know and have grown to love.

Do people still ask to see your “man hands,” based on your famous appearance on Seinfeld? Does that happen more or less than being asked to show your True Blood fangs?

It happens regularly but much less than I get asked to bite people.

You’re an incredibly well-rounded artist. Not only do you act (obviously), but you draw, paint, and create jewelry. Tell us more about your other artistic passions.

I am one of those who likes to make stuff and I like to be of service. When I can combine the two it is very fulfilling for me. I have always done 2D art. It was my major in college and my passion as long as I can remember. I added acting once I left college and needed to find a way to feed myself. I hope to get some more time this summer to paint! I’d love to do a series from my trips to Africa to help fund efforts to save the last of the elephant and rhino that have not already gone extinct.

You are a very outspoken advocate for animal rights. What are some of your favorite causes, and what can we do to help protect wildlife?

I feel a compulsion to protect the innocent and I don’t like a bully. Animals and kids often need our help. Since I can’t clone myself I have to narrow my focus at times and focus on the larger fires. Right now, African wildlife is under siege from Asia, and also the US. I married a South African, Abri van Straten, and he and I have been focusing on the genocide of the elephant and rhino, although all African wildlife is being taken and sold at horrendous rates.

I urge people to follow their impulses to help, in whatever area inspires them. Nature inspires me more than anything. Caring is paramount. If you care, find a way to show it with a letter, a behavior change to support better products, or give any tiny amount to a group you think is helping. The bottom line is DO SOMETHING. Doing nothing won’t work. Just care a little more and you will sleep better at night. That’s my theory.

The season finale of True Blood premieres Sunday, June 22 at 9/8c on HBO.