Ali Wentworth is known for her comedic roles on both the big and small screens, but she never would have made it to Hollywood if her parents had any say in the matter.
Thankfully, after powering through the struggles many actors face and showing her folks a thing or two, Wentworth joined the cast of "In Living Color," has logged numerous "Tonight Show" and "Oprah" appearances, and even starred in a movie with the one and only Meryl Streep.
But Wentworth's talents extend beyond performing. The devoted wife and mother of two penned a new memoir, "Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales," in which she shares stories from her privileged upbringing (her mother, Mabel "Muffie" Cabot, was First Lady Nancy Reagan's social secretary). She also chronicles her courtship with her husband, "Good Morning America" co-host George Stephanopoulos.
Wentworth talked to The Huffington Post about her sheltered upbringing, life with Stephanopoulos and working with Jennifer Lopez before she was famous.
What was your childhood like?
I went to an all-girls boarding school, and I turned up in a Laura Ashley dress holding a tennis racket. I did things that I thought everyone did, like going to tennis camp and wearing my white collar up. We had a house in Cape Cod because a direct ancestor came over on the Mayflower. I had to marry a Greek; I had to stir up the ethnic pot. Otherwise, my children would have been anemic and sickly. Now they've got some good Mediterranean blood in them.
Why was your mom so horrified that you wanted to be an actress?
She didn't understand it at all. She thought it was a phase, like if I came home and said I liked girls. I think she thought after a few months I'd get over it. I went to college and was a drama major and she was still saying to me, "You should go to Katy Gibbs secretarial school." Finally I sat both my parents down and said, "Listen, I'm going to be an actress and you have two choices. You can either support me and be part of the ride, or not support me and then we'll have a very estranged relationship." So when I put it like that, they said, "Well of course we're going to support you" and then I got [cast on] "In Living Color," which meant nothing to my mother. It wasn't until I did a movie with Meryl Streep that [I was] solidified as an actress [in her eyes.]
Wasn't it annoying to try to prove yourself as an actress to her?
It was irritating, but in another way it fueled me. It was like, "Okay, this isn't good enough? How about the 'Tonight Show'?" [With my parents saying,] "I'm sorry, we fell asleep, we didn't know how to use the VCR." So it was like, "Okay, how about this?"
Did you feel like the whitest person alive on "In Living Color?"
Well yes, because I came onto it when it was already a success, so the cast and the audience were like, "Now you really have to prove yourself."
Could you tell that your co-star, Jennifer Lopez, was destined for big things?
Here's the thing: I'm the worst person to ask that. I did a movie with Charlize Theron -- it was one of her first movies -- and I kept saying to her, "Listen, this business is really hard and a lot of people don't make it." And then I did Mena Suvari's first movie and again, I sat her down and said, "Are there other things you're interested in? Would you like to be a psychologist?" So I'm the last person to ask. What was funny was that Jennifer used to come in all the time to the writers' room and say, "Hey, I'd really love to do a sketch -- I'm funny" and we'd go, "Uh, I don't think so. You go dance, sweetie."
She always had a beautiful face, but there's something about the celebrity machine that makes you even more polished. Now when I see her, I can't take my eyes off her.
It's like a celebrity car wash.
I know! Where is this damn car wash? I would like to go through it.
You and your husband, George, must lead such exciting lives. I imagine you two running around New York together.
If you knew the reality. I wish I was half of whatever you imagine because George works eight days a week. Every night, me and our kids are in bed by 8:30. By the way, I'm not complaining. There's nothing glamorous about us at all. I wear faded J.Crew pajamas every night. We fall asleep to a "Modern Family" episode that we DVRed. So not exciting.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more