Since she entered the collective consciousness in the mid-'80s on “Who's the Boss”, Alyssa Milano has been a movie and television superstar, with shows like “Charmed” and “Melrose Place” enjoying lengthy runs in syndication. But Milano is also a 40 year old working mother of a 2 year old son, Milo, who has spent a lot of time working to share her successes with other working mothers. Now Milano has three new projects going on. She recently signed on as a spokesperson for Febreze's new Sleep Serenity line of scents and worked with the National Sleep Foundation to promote healthy sleeping habits. She also has a lead role on ABC's drama “Mistresses”, which just wrapped its first season and has an upcoming run as the host for Lifetime's “Project Runway.”
We spoke with Alyssa by phone to discuss how she manages to stay fit and active while raising a family and why she has become so interested in the science of sleeping well.
Starting off, tell me a bit about your recent partnership with Febreze on the Sleep Serenity Collection.
The Sleep Serenity Collection is a collection of 3 scents specifically made for the bedroom, that have proven to be therapeutic in making your environment more pleasant which leads to a better night's sleep. When they approached me to come on board, it was perfect timing because I have a baby and so much of a mom's existence is wrapped up in being able to get your baby to sleep through the night so that you can then sleep through the night. This becomes much more vital when you go back to work. Every expert I spoke to about Milo's sleeping said the most important thing is in establishing a concrete bedtime routine. I thought “that makes complete sense. At what point in our lives do we lose that routine?” So much of our lives are about trying to cram in everything we can possibly cram in the day before we lay our heads on the pillow. We don't take any time for ourselves. I think it's a very smart product, besides smelling delicious!
You mentioned 3 scents. What are those?
Moonlit Lavender, Quiet Jasmine, and Warm Milk and Honey.
Those sound nice.
Oh they are delicious. I recommend you try them. It's one of those things like a warm cup of tea before you sleep or drawing the curtains so the sun doesn't wake you. It's one of the things that enhances what you do before you close your eyes for sleep. Makes your room smell really yummy.
You've also been working with the National Sleep Foundation on this project. What did they bring to the table?
70% of people get a more pleasant sleep experience if the room smells nice. I didn't know that. There are certain scents that create different things in your body. Lavender is known to reduce the rate in blood pressure. Warm Milk and Honey is known to send out positive endorphins in your brain. Jasmine makes you more alert the day after when you fall asleep to a jasmine scent. I found those things very fascinating and very useful to have.
You've spoken of having a young child, you work full time and try to keep the schedule. As someone who is about to turn 40, I think I, like many people, would be happy to maintain the level of fitness that you live. Can you give us some tips for how you balance those things and stay fit?
The most important thing I've learned about my body is I'm not good with any kind of fad diet and I'm not good with any hardcore working out. For me, it's everything in moderation. My philosophy is just eat less and move more. I find that eating less and moving more keeps me at my ideal weight. I gave myself 18 months to lose my baby weight and it took me almost exactly 18 months. Now that my time is so limited, I find I don't really enjoy going to the gym because it's a waste of time. So I need to incorporate other things I love. So now my cardio consists of walking my son to the park every day. I also give myself some me time by taking a dance lesson every week. That's something that's fun first but also great for my body secondary.
So keeping it fun and family oriented.
Yes. And having me time. That's so important. Just be kind to yourself. There's going to be days for me that I'll be 5 lbs heavier than I want to be because I went on vacation. But I've learned to be very kind to myself about those things.
Moving on to your current acting projects. We just got finished seeing the finale for the first season of “Mistresses.” And I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it but your character is in a bit of a predicament ending the season. Any clues what to expect in season 2?
-laugh- We don't know anything yet! We don't know for sure that we're coming back for season 2. I have no idea how they're going to tie that up. I think I'm going to live -laugh- I hope so! But I don't know what is going to happen yet.
This is a really stellar cast on this show surrounding you.
I am so in love with my co-stars on this show! I can't even tell you. Not only are they wonderful and inspiring actors, truly talented, but also really good good people. I hope we get to keep coming back and doing this show for a long time so I get to see their faces every day!
You're also going to be working on “Project Runway All-Stars”?
Yeah, I'm going to be hosting it. Harvey Weinstein, who is the producer of “Project Runway” and “Project Runway All-Stars” saw my episode of “The Fashion Police” when I co-hosted it and he thought I'd be a good host. So they contacted me and I thought it would be such a cool opportunity for me. I've never done anything like that before, just hosting where I'm being me, not a character of any kind. That was interesting for me, and a challenge. Also scary! And I'm a girlie girl so I loved getting to go to work every day and be in cute clothes with great hair and makeup. It was so fun!
Being an All-Star show, I know the competition gets really intense. Did that surprise you?
I was not only surprised at how intense it was, but how raw the emotion is. It's as real and raw as you can possibly imagine. Of course that makes our jobs so much easier because you can see just from their reactions how much they want this and how much they want to win. You're shattering dreams here, and you're making dreams come true. It was all pretty heavy. That part was definitely surprising to me. But it was a happy surprise.
One final question, as a child of the '80s, I have to ask because I grew up like most people my age watching “Who's the Boss?” Does it surprise you that this show has the legs it does, so much that it is still on TV in reruns?
No. I think that... Well, yeah, I guess I am. Maybe I am a little surprised. I mean obviously, when I'm 12 years old I wasn't thinking “when I'm 40 this thing will still be on TV!” But I think it tackled some pretty relevant issues that are still very relevant today. Modern family issues. I mean, I think Judith was one of the first divorced moms on TV. Then she hired a male house keeper so you've got the whole gender bending thing too.
Well our time is up with you but I really appreciate you speaking to me and we all hope to see you on television and hopefully alive next season with “Mistresses!”
-laugh- Me too! Thank you so much.