Ju­lia Roberts pro­files sev­eral ‘Ex­tra­or­di­nary Moms’ on OWN

The Daily Herald - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAY BOB­BIN

Ju­lia Roberts knows what it’s like to go above and be­yond as a mother, so she’s pleased to show­case oth­ers who do, too.

The “Erin Brock­ovich” Os­car win­ner is the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and host/nar­ra­tor of “Ex­tra­or­di­nary Moms,” a spe­cial for Oprah Win­frey’s OWN Net­work that pre­mieres at 8 p.m. Satur­day— the eve of Mother’s Day, ap­pro­pri­ately.

Roberts ap­pears on cam­era at the be­gin­ning and end, and also to in­ter­view Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton. Other­wise, she keeps the fo­cus on the other women pro­filed dur­ing the 90-minute pro­gram.

Among them: Rosie O’Don­nell, who dis­cusses be­ing young when her mother died and be­ing a gay and di­vorced par­ent her­self; Chris­tiane Aman­pour, an­chor of ABC’s Sun­day pro­gram “This Week,” who re­flects on bal­anc­ing a some­times dan­ger­ous ca­reer with par­ent­hood; Mar­garet Martin, who en­cour­ages chil­dren’s self-es­teem and love of mu­sic through the Har­mony Pro­ject; May­isha Ak­bar, whose Comp­ton (Calif.) Jr. Posse guides young­sters away from gang life and into com­pet­i­tive horse rid­ing; and Norma Basti­das, a marathoner whose run­ning sup­ports re­search into the cause of her son’s in­creas­ing blind­ness.

In an ex­clu­sive print in­ter­view, mother of three (in­clud­ing twins) Roberts spoke re­cently about her rea­sons for mak­ing “Ex­tra­or­di­nary Moms.”

Q: You have played many in­spir­ing peo­ple — Erin Brock­ovich cer­tainly be­ing one — so do you con­sider this spe­cial a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of your choices thus far?

A: I do be­lieve that there are many heroic peo­ple in our world, and in our com­mu­ni­ties, that we may not be aware of. In my mind, hero­ism just goes that ex­tra mile when it’s some­one who’s also tak­ing care of their own fam­ily and their own chil­dren. I know how chal­leng­ing that can be.

With Mar­garet Martin, here’s a woman who’s a sin­gle par­ent and home­less and try­ing to make ends meet. She’s fac­ing in­cred­i­ble ob­sta­cles, and not only does she try to bet­ter her own home life, she wants to bet­ter ev­ery­body’s home life. It’s so un­selfish and so beau­ti­ful, and I am at­tracted to those kinds of peo­ple. It sounds so cliche, but I’ve watched that footage over and over, and ev­ery time, I’ve walked away think­ing, “What lit­tle more can I add to the day that goes be­yond my front yard?”

Q: It’s clear from the spe­cial what an ad­mirer of Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton you are. How was it for you to do that in­ter­view?

A: I must say, she is a per­sonal hero of mine. I was re­ally ner­vous, and I was al­lowed by her and her camp to con­struct all of my own ques­tions. I was not given any pa­ram­e­ters ex­cept time.

I have fol­lowed her over the years, as ev­ery­body ob­vi­ously has, but the smartest thing I did was to send an email to a lot of friends and co-work­ers. I said, “If you could ask her a ques­tion, what would it be?” A very sim­i­lar theme came back from ev­ery­body, which was the age-old ques­tion, “How do you do it all? How do you not feel guilty that you’re not present enough at home or at work?”

She is such a word­smith, she had great, gen­tle, en­light­en­ing ways of ex­press­ing all of those feel­ings. It was such a joy and honor to talk to her, and re­ally such a com­fort. Her great­est ac­com­plish­ment in life is her daugh­ter, which is felt by many peo­ple. Chelsea is so ad­mired, and I think the Clin­tons are ap­pre­ci­ated for how they’ve raised their daugh­ter in that en­vi­ron­ment.

Q: This sum­mer, you’ll be seen with Tom Hanks in the movie “Larry Crowne,” and you’ll be film­ing the role of the Evil Queen in “The Brothers Grimm: Snow White.” As ac­tress, wife and mother, how do you do it all?

A: The great co­nun­drum of our lives is know­ing how to be present and oc­cupy the space that you’re in, and fo­cus­ing on who­ever or what­ever is in front of you. That’s re­ally what all of these sto­ries say, that with the right fo­cus and for­ward mo­tion, it’s all right there. We can do it.

Q: Your 2010 movie “Eat Pray Love” is now mak­ing the rounds on the Starz pre­mium cable chan­nels. Were you happy with the re­cep­tion to the film?

A: Very, and also happy with what came out of that for me, which was such a rich ex­pe­ri­ence with my fam­ily. And re­ally, on a movie, you’re lucky if you walk away with one per­son that you stay in touch with or that you’re happy to see when you bump into them.

There are very few movies on which you make life­long friends — Der­mot Mul­roney, from “My Best Friend’s Wed­ding,” is one of them — and from “Eat Pray Love,” I can count on my hand the in­cred­i­ble re­la­tion­ships that came out of that movie. They’re so rich and sat­is­fy­ing to my life ... (co-stars) Javier Bar­dem and Richard Jenk­ins and (di­rec­tor) Ryan Mur­phy, re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple.

“Ex­tra­or­di­nary Moms” pro­ducer-host Ju­lia Roberts has three kids of her own.

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