Thank you! It’s difficult to articulate how much I love her. She brings such light and joy to our lives every day. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and knew I’d adore my child, but I couldn’t have fully understood how it would feel for her to look back at me with the same kind of love. When she looks at me, says ‘Mama,’ and grabs my face to kiss me…nothing else matters.Looking back at “Party of Five” and the theme of five children losing their parents, does it have more meaning now that you’re a mother?
I feel like everything has more meaning to me now that I’m a mother! The writing on “Party of Five” was so wonderful. I’m very thankful for everything I learned during those six seasons.
You’ve recently finished two movies. How did you manage that during your pregnancy?
I filmed one movie while I was about six or seven months pregnant, and that was quite a challenge. Trying to hide my very pregnant belly was something that gave us all a good laugh. Since Julia was born, I’ve done three movies. I was excited to get back to work. It was a lot to balance—being a nursing mom to a 4 month old and also being in every scene. There were moments when it felt overwhelming, but we made it work.
My daughter is my No. 1 priority. If I’m able to also work and be fulfilled as an actor, I think that will only help me be a better mom to her. I’m very thankful for my husband, family, and friends who are a great support system. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to work like I do. It truly takes a village!
You’re too young to remember “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” but what was it like working with “Mr. Grant” [Ed Asner]?
He was a lot of fun to work with. He and I had worked together on the TV movie “Gypsy” when I was 10 years old, so it was a nice reunion. It meant a lot to me that he said he was proud of me for what I had done in my career. He’s such a legend; I feel honored to have worked with him.
You’re a Southern girl but you’ve lived in Los Angeles for most of your life. Do you return to Mississippi and do you miss living there?
I love Mississippi. I moved to New York when I was 7, but I still have very vivid memories of growing up in Purvis. My family lived on 20 acres, and it was kind of a magical place. My three siblings and I would play in the woods all day building forts, swimming in the pond, and running around in the sprinkler. It was a simple time [with] such great memories. I still have family there, so I really love visiting.
What in LA makes you grateful you live here?
I’m convinced there’s no better weather in the world than in Southern California! I also appreciate that it’s close to both the beach and the mountains. My husband and I love going out to dinner, and LA is full of such great restaurants.
Is there anything that shocked you when you first moved here, but now seems completely normal?
The traffic! When I first moved here, I lived in Thousand Oaks and would drive into Culver City every day. I’ve literally sat in traffic for probably a third of my life. It’s so normal to me now that I just expect it. It’s the one part of LA that isn’t my favorite. Otherwise, I love this city.
BELLA’s tagline is “Beauty Defined by You.” What does beauty mean to you at this moment?
Beauty to me has always been about authenticity. Being authentically you is something more easily said than done sometimes. The biggest mistakes I’ve made in life were when I was not being true to who I am at my core.
At this moment, beauty to me is also finding balance in this new chapter of my life. Sometimes I’m glammed up on a red carpet, but most days I’m covered in baby food, and I’m lucky if I’ve brushed my teeth by 3 pm. I feel like I have the best of both worlds right now and I’m deeply grateful.
I have to say the most beautiful thing I’ve experienced to date is seeing life through my daughter’s eyes. Watching her discover this world is a magical experience. Nothing has ever made me happier than being her mama.
By Michele DiNardo