In November 2004, the song “My Boo” by Usher and Alicia Keys was topping the music charts, the Olympics had just been held in Athens, and we were just a few months from Facebook being launched for Harvard students by Mark Zuckerberg… It’s also the moment when the hit television show “House” premiered, and raked in a massive nineteen million viewers by its first season finale.
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“House” was a show that broke all the rules of what a prime-time medical show should be. Its main character (Dr. House) was rude, inappropriate, and addicted to painkillers — but he was also a genius. And while many people tuned in to watch Hugh Laurie’s brilliance in the role, they were also glued to the relationship he had with his boss, Dr. Lisa Cuddy, played by the incredible Lisa Edelstein.
Lisa always knew she was a storyteller, but realized that being famous for the sake of being famous wasn’t for her when, at age 20, she was dubbed the “reigning queen of the night, girl of the moment, and the new Edie Sedgwick,” by New York Magazine. “I experienced fame but I was so unhappy,” Edelstein says, “I realized that if fame was my goal, then I didn’t want it. And that the only reason why I should be an actor or an artist of any kind is because It feeds me. The process of creating, the process of performing is really meaningful to me and fame was just a tool to be able to do what I wanted to do.”
From there, she decided she needed to reground herself with what was really going on in the world and started volunteering with Gay Men’s Health Crisis. “Old friends of mine from New Jersey thought AIDS was government hype. President Reagan had never even said the word, it was a very strange time,” Edelstein says. “And, with all of that energy, I ended up writing a musical.” The musical got picked up for full production at La Mama and from there, her career took off. Since then she’s played many of our beloved characters – most notably Dr. Lisa Cuddy on “House” and Abby Mcarthy on “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce.”
In addition to being an actor, Lisa Edelstein is also an extraordinary artist — a talent she only discovered in 2020 amidst the pandemic. She paints stunning photorealistic scenes from her family’s past that transport us back to a simpler time, and now her work is being displayed at art galleries across the country. “I’m always looking for images that are caught moments because they’re the in-between moments, they’re universal and they can feel like anybody’s family,” Edelstein says. “You just relate to it on a human level. And because I’ve been an actress for so long and a writer, it’s all very narrative to me.”
Listen to the How She Does It Podcast to hear more about Lisa Edelstein’s incredible career, her new role on the PBS miniseries “Little Bird”, and why she feels more herself than ever post-menopause.
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