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Health & Parenting

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus On Acting, Parenting, and Going Green

Former Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus juggles life as a working mother with a passion for environmental activism.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on cancer continued...

And she participated in last fall’s groundbreaking health-advocacy event, Stand Up to Cancer, with the goal of eradicating cancer by funding cutting-edge research. “A dear friend of mine died not long ago of leukemia,” she says. “How can we not have cured this by now?”

Louis-Dreyfus and her husband are also producing a documentary about the world’s unsung NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) that together work to end hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation. Louis-Dreyfus hopes their film will be screened by the end of the year.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on being a working mother

If there is one cause closer to her heart than all others, it must be her family. Married in 1987, Louis-Dreyfus still gushes like a schoolgirl about Hall, whom she met on the campus of Northwestern University in the late 1970s when they were both undergrads. After doing comedy theater together in Chicago, the couple reteamed for Saturday Night Live (1982–1985), where Hall was a writer and occasional performer, and on her short-lived sitcom, Watching Ellie (2002), on which he served as executive producer. “I got lucky. I guess my instincts were good. He’s a wonderful, wonderful man.”

But juggling such a high-profile career, including, of course, playing Elaine on Seinfeld, which aired 1989–1998, with the demands of marriage and motherhood is not for the fainthearted. “It was really hard when I was younger … there were days when I thought my brain would blow up!” she laughs.

Growing opportunities for women can sometimes be a double-edged sword, she adds. “Women want to do everything, and it’s hard to pull off. I brought both my kids to work with me [to the set of Seinfeld] when they were little. It was great, but it also split my focus. I had a nursery set up so I could nurse them, then I’d run back to do a scene. Was that the best way? I’m not sure. You always feel this pull, like you’re not giving them or your work your best. On the other hand, maybe it was good for these two little boys to see their mother working and having a fulfilling career. And I am in no way disparaging women who stay at home … we beat ourselves up no matter what we choose. Inevitably, you make good and bad decisions. We all do. And you make mistakes. But you do your best.”

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