With her popular TV series, Parenthood, returning for its sixth and final season on NBC Sept. 25, Lauren Graham, who plays single mom Sarah Braverman, is preparing for a new chapter—literally. The Hawaii-born actress, who portrayed cult favorite Lorelai Gilmore on the hit TV show Gilmore Girls, published her first novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, in 2014. The story of a struggling actress awaiting her big break became a New York Times bestseller, and Lauren’s now helping develop it into a one-hour TV drama series with Ellen DeGeneres’ production company.
Lauren will also appear on the silver screen this December in Merry Friggin’ Christmas with Robin Williams and Joel McHale, and in next year’s Max, the story of a dog who assisted soldiers in Afghanistan. We chatted with the actress about tackling new challenges, raising teens onscreen and her favorite way to procrastinate.
You published your first book at 46. Have you always been a writer?
I hadn’t done any serious writing since college, and the process of writing a novel made me feel very vulnerable. The hardest part of writing the book was for me to get out of my own way. There were things I wanted to stop and edit along the way, but I had to allow myself to have a first draft. You can’t edit a manuscript that doesn’t exist.
You’ve been quoted as saying that you’ve been on a diet for the past 35 years. How do you manage diet and exercise today?
My mom struggled with her weight, and I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I haven’t watched my weight. I put a lot of effort into exercise, and am a crazy Spinner. I don’t eat desserts and I avoid things like chips and salsa, which I love, but I know aren’t going to keep me on track. I love Japanese food and I cook a lot of fish, rice and vegetables. I recently visited Japan and brought back this little tabletop barbecue that allows you to cook veggies and meats right at the dinner table. When I was procrastinating while writing the book, I’d go online and search for new Japanese recipes to try!
What advice do you have for other women who might be considering a big shift in midlife?
If you really want something, you need to make time for it each day—whether it’s writing a book, learning a new language, or even mastering a new skill to help you re-enter the job market.
You’ve played a mom of teens on two hit TV shows—what has that taught you about relating to teens?
I’ve gotten to know a lot of my teen co-stars, and have become friends with them in a non- threatening way that has allowed me to be somewhat of a second mom. One thing I’ve learned is to never answer for teens. I know that we all have the tendency to answer for a teen if they are asked something and aren’t being forthcoming with their answer, but it’s really important to let them speak for themselves. I remember being a teen and how challenging that time of life can be. When I talk to teens, I also try and ask specific questions, to go beyond, “How is school going?” and to ask about specific classes, or interests, and to get them talking about the things in their life that are important to them.
How do you feel about Parenthood coming to an end?
With Gilmore Girls, we didn’t know ahead of time that the show was ending, so it’s been nice with Parenthood to have the time to say goodbye. But as an actor it’s also bittersweet to part ways with the cast and crew that I’ve worked so closely with over the past four years.