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Erin Brockovich Answers 10 Big Questions (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post   Debra Ollivier and Evan Allis First Posted: 11/08/2011 7:28 am Updated: 01/08/2012 4:12 am

In 1993, a 32-year-old legal clerk named Erin Brockovich made history for boldly pursuing an investigation that resulted in the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit.

Though she lacked formal legal training, Brockovich's instincts motivated her to dig deeper when she was assigned to file a pro-bono case involving Pacific Gas & Electric while working as an aide for the law firm Masry & Vititoe. Through the course of her investigation, Brockovich discovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had allowed the leakage of a contaminant called Chromium 6 into the well water of Hinkley, California causing residents to suffer from ailments ranging from chronic nosebleeds to cancer for more than 30 years.

Inspired by Brockovich's relentless pursuit of the truth, more than 600 Hinkley residents hired Masry & Vititoe to sue Pacific Gas & Electric. The resulting $333 million settlement made history and turned Erin Brockovich into one of the most respected environmental activists in the country.

In 2000, the aptly titled "Erin Brockovich" was released in theaters, earning Julia Roberts an Oscar for her portrayal of the unyielding legal clerk and further catapulted the real Brockovich into national stardom.

Since 2000, Brockovich, now 51, has continued her work investigating environmental contamination, written a bestseller and raised three children. She is active on the motivational speaking circuit, with a thriving lecture series and a television talk show in development.

Huff/Post50 recently caught up with Brockovich in anticipation for the Nov. 8 release of her book, “Hot Water." "Hot Water" is a sequel to "Rock Bottom", a story about an investigation of a series of accidents at a state-of-the-art nuclear facility.

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What's the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were growing up?

Not to let others define me. I often believed that I was what others thought, wanted or imposed on me to be and that is what I thought I had to become. I gave up the choice to do that for myself and was diminished because of it. I later learned that I had the choice to see who I was, what I was capable of and what I wanted to do with my life.
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