Published April 21, 2006
Give Meryl Streep for Mother’s Day. And Maya Angelou, Kate Winslet and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, too. And if you like baseball toss me in as well (will explain later).
OK, so these women won’t actually show up at your mom’s door, but you can hand over a collection of personal essays written by each with “Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female.” It’s a book filled with intimate — and unexpectedly revealing, even for this entertainment reporter — moments in these women’s lives. Mom may almost feel like these celebs are in the room.
The woman who made it all happen is artist and humanitarian Willa Shalit, co-founder of V-Day (to end violence against women). Shalit is the co-producer of the play “The Vagina Monologues” and, most importantly, is a mother.
She asked a wide range of actors, writers and broadcasters to share their memories of, or philosophies on, what it means to be a girl and a woman. The book’s message: It’s important, vital and healthy to be yourself, not who you think you should be or who others expect you to be.
There are many more contributors, including Helen Hunt, Julia Stiles, Maria Shriver, Joyce Carol Oates, Lily Tomlin, Brooke Shields and Nina Totenberg. I’m honored and humbled to be among them.
Patti LaBelle writes about being sexually molested as a child. Tatum O’Neal relates her tumultuous Hollywood upbringing and ensuing drug addiction. And Kate Winslet speaks of accepting of her less-than-skinny figure — and of trying to impart the same self-confidence to young women who flip through the air-brushed pages of magazines.
My story centers on my childhood love of baseball — particularly the New York Mets — and the lesson that sometimes life isn’t fair (shocker).
I suffered the indignity of being denied access to watch the All-Star game on TV at summer camp because I was a girl. Sexism at any age is no walk in the ballpark, and certainly tricky to digest at age 12.
Forty percent of the proceeds of the sale of “Becoming Myself” go to organizations working to prevent violence against women, including the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Equality Now. It’s available at bookstores everywhere and online at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.
Although marketed mainly for Mother’s Day, “Becoming Myself” isn’t a bad way to send your daughters, or sons, into the world as they graduate from high school and college.
And as for Father’s Day, hey … dads too will be moved, and they might even gain some insight into the female ranks of the family.
'Desperate' for Immigration Reform
She’s a long way from Wisteria Lane. Eva Longoria plays a rookie Secret Service agent in the new film “The Sentinal” — and in real life she’s talking politics.
The Mexican-American actress supports Latino causes "Padres Contra El Cancer” (“Parents Against Cancer”) and the United Farm Workers. Now she’s speaking out on immigration.
"We're a land of immigrants, and if anybody's ancestors were treated the way the Mexicans are being treated now, nobody would be here. Everybody was granted an opportunity to make a better living for their family, and I don't think there is anything more honorable. So for me, I think our administration can't afford for this to end badly."
Longoria, who’s 31, is one of a curious few stars speaking out on immigration. And she’s looking to get more vocal: by 2008, the "Desperate Housewife" says she’ll be desperate to get out the Latino vote.
"We are the lowest voting demographic in America, and we're the most affected by who's president. It's a problem I will continue to try and fix, and I'll definitely be out there again next election year."
In the meantime, you can check out Longoria this weekend in her first major film, “The Sentinal,” opposite Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland.