Unlike many of her Hollywood peers, Tea Leoni is fully aware there isn't a fountain of youth, and at 48, the Madame Secretary actress is okay with that. As she approaches her 49th birthday, Leoni tells MORE magazine she's realized that her happiness is paramount when it comes to aging. "Chasing youth is a war I'm not going to win," admits the star. "It's not like I'm thrilled to turn around and catch my can in the mirror, but I can see now how much of my happiness could be a victim of trying to stay young and desirable. And it feels like peace and victory to be relieved of that burden."
Choosing to abandon her inner critic was a decision Leoni made as she raised her two children, Madelaine, 15, and Kyd, 12, with ex-husband David Duchovny. Fear, Leoni tells MORE, also creeped in as she and Duchovny approached the end of their marriage. (The couple divorced in 2014 after 17 years together, including a brief reconciliation in 2008)
"I don't want people to judge me and find me wanting. I spent some time in my marriage being fearful of how it would go, or end, or not end, and I think, with the kids, some fear as a new mother. I didn’t know what I was doing," Leoni admits. "I remember packing the freaking diaper bag. I would get obsessed. If there is an earthquake, can we survive for two weeks on the contents?"
Currently "divorced and liking it," Leoni's commitment to living life on her own terms allowed her to take on the leading lady role on Madame Secretary — and uproot her family to the show's New York City headquarters — without regrets.
"People tell me I've never really made it. They say, 'You don't have an Oscar.' There's not an accolade in Hollywood that could replace time with my kids," Leoni says. "At this stage of my life, it's not about contentment. Or appealing to 20-year-olds. Or awards. It's about finding something more. As I tell my daughter, 'Hear your voice first.'"