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Women's Health

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Q&A With Maria Bello

The actress talks about social justice, health, and women's rights.
By Stephanie Stephens
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Born in Norristown, Pa., Maria Bello planned on becoming a lawyer -- until she took an acting class during college and fell in love with the craft. After appearing in several off-Broadway plays, she played guest roles on several TV series (including The Commish, Nowhere Man, and Misery Loves Company), and regular roles on ER and Prime Suspect. She has also starred in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Jane Austen Book Club, Coyote Ugly, A History of Violence, Beautiful Boy, Abduction,Grown Ups, and Grown Ups 2. She sat down with WebMD Magazine to talk about her acting career, her work on social justice and women's rights issues, her life as a mom, and what she thinks is the best part of her life (her answer may surprise you!).

1. Are you satisfied with your career now?

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I'm so lucky because my career has been such an adventure -- Third Person was filmed in Rome. I find joy in art, acting and writing, telling stories, and especially in working with women, which I've done since I was 18. I've been so fortunate to marry all those things, plus I'm busy carpooling my 12-year-old son, Jackson Blue McDermott.

2. After Haiti's 2010 earthquake, you co-founded We Advance, a community-based empowerment movement dedicated to advancing women's health, safety, and well-being. What was your motivation?

I've always championed social justice and women's rights, and in Haiti and elsewhere, I believe women should have full political, economic, and social participation. Now I'm constantly working on new projects, raising money, and speaking about international women's issues.

3. What health messages do you share with Haitian women?

It's all about education, education, education. So we also started We Advance University, an online educational web site with short videos and networking opportunities so women can access resources and services from local organizations.

4. Before the acting bug bit you and you planned to be a lawyer, you majored in peace and justice education at Villanova University. How have those courses helped your career and your causes?

Politics and diplomacy are not in my repertoire. Still, my education has served me well, especially in international women's rights as I meet remarkable women from so many places who share their hopes, lives, and dreams with me.

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