Alyssa Milano had a secret: She struggled with crippling anxiety.
“There was always the threat of someone finding out and being exposed,” the actress tells Us. “Because there’s a stigma attached to mental illness and there’s shame sometimes associated with anything that’s perceived as different.”
But like her Insatiable character Coralee — she hides her trailer park roots — Milano learned to embrace her insecurities. “Coming out, I felt such a sense of relief,” says the Charmed alum, whose social climber befriends newly skinny Patty in the Netflix revenge series. “A lot of Coralee’s growth comes from acceptance of her past. She doesn’t have to hide to show she’s fabulous.”
The mom of Milo, 6, and Elizabella, 3 (with Dave Bugliari), shares more with Us.
Us Weekly: The show has been criticized for fat-shaming. Thoughts?
Alyssa Milano: The show is really about the damage that happens from fat-shaming. It touches on how we have all felt that we are not enough. How do we fill that void? Some people get anxiety attacks, some eat. I’m a firm believer that these issues are better in the open.
Us: What was so appealing about Coralee to you?
AM: We often hear about how roles are not only scarce but are not as substantial for women who are passed 40. Being able to explore Coralee and really take risks comically, has been such a pleasure. I really just consider it a total gift to be given that character at this point in my career.
Us: What of yourself do you see in her?
AM: Her husband means everything to her. They’ve supported each other through the ups and downs. But I also relate to her really wanting to help Patty on her quest to find fulfillment. Everyone will be able to relate to these characters because they are looking to fill a void inside themselves.
Us: Coralee is very protective of her husband. Are you similar?
AM: Definitely. I don’t want anyone to ever hurt him. We’ve know each other for 15 years and with time it almost feels like I don’t know where I stop and he starts. When he hurts, I hurt.
Us: How do you deal with people who shame you, especially online?
AM: I get a lot of trolls because I’m outspoken. It’s hurtful — I’m not going to say it isn’t. But I try to be empathetic and put myself in someone else’s shoes. I was raised to not retaliate. It’s probably why I have anxiety. I store so much. But I’m not causing anyone else pain and I feel good about that.
Us: Do your kids realize how big a deal their mom is?
AM: I was in DC with my son and there was a protest at the White House. I was called up on stage to say a few words. Afterwards, he said, “Mom, why are those people looking at you?” I tried to explain it the best I can, like, “When you watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey teaches you about making good choices, you listen because you admire Mickey. I’m an actress and in people’s homes like Mickey is in our house. With that comes a certain amount of responsibility.” That was his first realization. I don’t think my daughter really gets it yet.
Insatiable is now streaming on Netflix.
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