Days of our Lives alum Charlotte Ross took a break from Hollywood when she welcomed her now 6-year-old son Max. The single mom, also known for her roles on NYPD Blue and Law & Order, is now back on the scene in the smash hit Glee and a few upcoming feature films.
Charlotte opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her negotiating-savvy son, her priceless training in the world of soaps as a young actress, and how she stays in such great shape. Read on about Charlotte’s fearless stance on aging in image-obsessed Hollywood and hear about her strong convictions to help save our animals.
CBS: Tell us about your son Max. What is he into? What does he do to make you laugh?
CR:”My son Max is 6 years old. I love him dearly and he never ceases to surprise and amaze me. He’s very strong willed, will try to negotiate almost anything to get his way and loves to let me know that he “already knew that” about everything! [laughs]
He wasn’t a clingy child to begin with, but I think he is at the age where he is starting to feel out his independence a bit more. I love that he’s so curious about everything and I admire how he finds such joy in so many of the simple things that most of us tend to take for granted in life. I can’t remember the last time I just felt like singing at breakfast and he does it almost every morning. I love that! I’m sure these are the moments I am going to look back on and treasure forever.
Max makes me laugh when in an effort to get his way he does this fake, bad acting cry. I look at him and say, “Oh, please, that is really bad acting and such a fake cry!” He starts to laugh while still trying to maintain the fake cry to make his point. Amazing how smart and manipulative kids can be. Sometimes we both just laugh at the power struggle of wills, I suppose. It’s very funny.”
CBS: We loved you as Eve on Days of our Lives! Did your experience working on a popular soap opera teach you a lot about acting?
CR: “Working on Days of our Lives was a dream come true for me when I was a teenager. I got the role of ‘Eve Donovan’ only weeks after graduating from my high school (New Trier) in Winnetka, IL. Though it sounds like it happened so fast and that I got my break immediately after graduation, in reality I had already been paying my ‘dues’ for quite some time.
I had been studying acting for years and already had an agent in Chicago that had been sending me out on auditions for a while. I had ‘tested’ for 5 different television series and I would always end up being one of the final 3 or 4 gals, but in the end I didn’t get the part. So when I landed the role on DOOL, I couldn’t have been more excited. This is what I had been working for.
Since I started rather young, I would say DOOL was kind of like college for me. I was on the soap for 4 years and definitely learned a lot. Then luckily – I moved on or I guess you could say ‘graduated’ – to Primetime after they were nice enough to release me from my contract. I have nothing but awesome memories from my years there and, yes, doing 30 to 40 pages of dialogue a DAY was wonderful training! I highly recommend this route to new and young actors.
Unlike Primetime, there is no hiatus so we worked ALL year except for maybe a few days around the holidays. I’d go to work in the dark and come home in the dark so it instilled great discipline on numerous levels and was wonderful training. I learned how to cry at the drop of a hat….considering I was either in jail or being betrayed somehow on a weekly basis. The whole DOOL experience was more than I could have dreamed of as I was able to do what I loved everyday and was able to learn a lot about myself in the process. And then the 2 Emmy nominations that I was fortunate enough to garner during my time there, were just the icing on the cake.”
CBS: Tell us about your role on Glee. Will we see more of you on this smash hit? What is the the set like? Loads of music and fun?
CR: “I’m thrilled to be a part of Glee! Such a wonderful show with extraordinary writing that crosses over to both young and old. I’ve been a fan of Ryan Murphy for years and have always thought that he has such a different view of things that could easily be written in a more obvious or stereotypical way but, he just doesn’t follow the grain and with real risk like that, you can strike it really big like with a show such as Glee.
I joined the cast as Quinn’s Mother, ‘Judy Fabray,’ near the beginning of last season when all these kids were newly discovered and the show hadn’t even started airing yet. They had no idea what kind of fame and stardom awaited them. I was happy to see that their feet and egos were all still firmly on the ground when I returned for the season finale. Only this time, their limos were waiting backstage so after we wrapped they could go to this award show or that award show. Then they had their singing tour over hiatus. These kids are working their buts off – very admirable.
Right now, the storyline has my daughter living at home with me as I left her father on last season’s finale. I love my role, as ‘Judy’ is such a rich and layered character. To say that she is a right, right, RIGHT wing Republican would be putting it mildly! So fun!”
CBS: How do you stay in such great shape? Do you feel the pressure to stay thin in image-obsessed Hollywood?
CR: “I’ve always loved working out and staying in shape. Mostly for my emotional well-being and energy levels. But, I did kick it up a lot this past year in preparation to play seductress ‘Candy’ in Summit Entertainment’s Drive Angry which will be out February 2011. In addition to wearing next to nothing the majority of the time, Nicolas and I share a very steamy scene which is in 3-D no less. So that was definitely motivation for me to vamp up my fitness routine but I felt like I had hit a plateau in my progress. I wanted to be as healthy as possible, so my main focus was to raise my metabolism and get lean, cut and very defined. However, I’m not 20 anymore. So I educated myself as much as possible, reading tons of health/fitness books and magazines. I started cutting out pages of various workout moves and daily nutrition meals, filled my iPod with music I loved and really kicked up my fitness routine. I changed my eating habits, eliminating sodium and eating high protein meals every 2 hours and now every day I do 1 of 3 different classes – Cardio Barre, Barry’s Bootcamp and Drenched – and then go to the gym for another hour of free weights.
Since I switch it up, I never get bored and my body never has a chance to get used to one particular regimen, therefore I am constantly challenging myself. It’s a bit more than I recommend for most people, but I can’t believe the change in my body. My new routine has literally transformed my body and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
Being in such good shape has made me a better person all around as I’m, simply, much happier than ever before because I have a deep feeling of accomplishment. When you can control so few things in life, it’s nice to have control over what goes in your mouth and how you train your heart and muscles – definitely empowering.
I do not feel pressure to stay in shape in Hollywood. I am my own worst critic, believe me. And, I embrace getting older. It’s a beautiful thing to know more and be more emotionally healthy than the tortured years of growing up. Knowing yourself and what you’re capable of can either add beauty or, with lack thereof, take away from physical beauty. People sometimes focus too much on the exterior and that’s unfortunate.”
CBS: Tell us about your involvement in PETA. Why did you decide to be a spokesperson for this organization?
CR:”I love PETA, The Humane Society of the United States, Jane Goodall and many other hard working organizations that, in essence, give a voice to the voiceless. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, is not the issue. My fight is for all animals to have a very basic and fundamental right which is to live a healthy and torture-free life. To let animals ‘live’ in crammed cages where they can’t move, turn around or feel the sun is inhumane. And, many facilities don’t put their very sick or dying animals out of their misery but, instead let them die a slow, painful death and then have the nerve to throw it on our dinner plates. These farming practices should be outlawed.
Lastly, my dream is for all local animal shelters to be no-kill. The amount of loving, healthy dogs and cats that are put down everyday brings tears to my eyes. Do you know that many shelters still practice grouped gas euthanasia?? Horrendous. I’m currently producing a documentary on the issue. Please, adopt from your local animal shelters and save a life.”
CBS: What’s up next for you?
CR: “I hope to be returning to Glee soon as they are currently shooting their second season now.
My film, Drive Angry, opposite Nicolas Cage in which I play an awesome tattooed-covered, emotionally frayed southern gal who finds her world turned upside down, is scheduled for release February 2011.
I also just returned from Detroit where I was playing Ray Liotta’s wife in a Fox Feature Film called, Street King’s 2/Motor City.
And, I’m currently shooting an independent film called, The Umpire, where I play pro baseball’s first female umpire.
After a much needed break from Hollywood to have Max and be a full time mommy, I’m happy to be back in the game again and am thankful to be so busy.”