Sela Ward's Prime Time

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What Sela Truly Wants

I ask Ward the secret to her and Sherman's 18-year union. "Therapy," she says without hesitation. "I tell my husband, 'If we are going to stay married, you and I will both be in therapy.' We mostly go separately, but if we're bumping up against an issue, we'll go together. We dump all our stuff there so we don't dump it on each other.

"I think everybody has to be in therapy to be truly conscious," Ward says. "It's only when you're conscious about your behavior and your expectations and your reaction to another person that you can really have a healthy relationship."

Clearly, awareness and honesty are deeply important to Ward -- even when the issue is something as dicey as aging. "There isn't one person out there that's over 50 -- or 47, for that matter -- who looks fabulous that hasn't had some help, whatever it is," says Ward, who's 54.

Has she?

"Love Botox, love all that stuff -- it's the best!" she says. "I love all those little things you don't have to cut yourself open for." Not that she's saying no to cosmetic surgery sometime in the future -- we have an animated talk about which doctors are the best -- but she just happens to be lucky enough not to have needed a facelift yet.

Ward is naturally thin but she eats carefully and works out for at least 30 minutes a day. She's discovered gyratronics, a cousin of Pilates, which she is convinced will help her shed the extra 10 pounds she has gained since breaking her foot last summer (she cracked a bone when she fell while wearing platform shoes). "On camera it looks like 50 pounds...I'm like waddling down the hallway," she says. "No wide-angle lenses for me!"

With a lunch of chicken salad, pesto bread, and oatmeal cookies dispatched, Ward gives me a tour of her property. It's a soul-soothing place: Tommy Dorsey (a favorite musician of her mother, who died eight years ago) is playing over the sound system. There is the murmur of water from a man-made stream and Buddhas are everywhere. Across the lawn is her artist's studio, where the work is sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract, but always pulsing with color and life. Perched on a steep canyon hill is an amphitheater she had built for family and friends' performances. (Ward's son, Austin, a talented musician, recently jammed with her CSI: NY costar, Sinise.)

When I note that everything is so beautiful, so right, that even the violet bougainvillea seem color-coordinated with the dragonflies, she beams. "My home feeds my soul," she says simply. "If I were going to have another job other than acting it would probably be fixing up homes, making them beautiful and selling them." (In fact, she did just that with her last house, in 2003, selling it for $12 million to Madonna.)

Yet Ward admits she has never quite found her true home in California. Her heart is in Meridian, where she and her family return every summer, living on her 500-acre farm, visiting her extended family (Ward's father died in 2009) and friends. Living in Los Angeles, where the show shoots, she admits, can be isolating. "I've never had the experience of actresses wanting to be friends," she says. "It's such a competitive business, built on illusion. There's little to ground people. I think that's why there's so much loneliness among people here."

Ward has talked about eventually moving away from Los Angeles. I ask her what else remains on her bucket list. "I'll tell you what it is. It's not a thing I have to do...it's a state I'd like to reach. I just want to be in an emotional space without fear."

For all the self-assuredness and calm she projects on-screen (and in life), Ward is actually quite the worrier -- and working on CSI: NY has fed some of her anxiety. "I've started having dreams where people are hunting me down -- or my family. And my son just started driving so I'll think, Is he going to have a wreck? Is he going to drink and drive? Is he going to be okay? Am I going to crash in an airplane? The list goes on forever. And it'll only get worse with my daughter. So that's what I want. Just some time. To live without fear."

Continued on page 3:  Sela Gives Back

 

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