“I wanted to be doing something I really loved”: The image above of Jennifer Beals, now 44, is seared into many of out brains and tapping feet, even as a younger crowd knows her more for her leading role in Showtime’s “The L Word.”  This month, Beals tells MORE Magazine that it’s all about the same daring.

Jennifer Beals doesn’t go for halfway measures. When she turned 40, she says, “I wanted to be doing something I really loved. I didn’t want to be driving by some stupid ad for makeup and be seduced into thinking I should look younger.” She gives a giant roll of the eyes. “So you know what I decided? I went to Patagonia. On my 40th birthday, I was riding a horse galloping at full speed across the pampas and laughing my ass off.”

Beals, now 44, has always been into controlling her destiny, even before she won the role that made her famous. The Chicago native, daughter of an Irish-American mother and an African-American father, scored a small part in My Bodyguard in 1980 and had been modeling when she auditioned for Flashdance, about a sexy steel welder with ballet-academy dreams. But when she saw the full script, she didn’t want to do the nude scenes, and she was about to start her freshman year at Yale, so she turned down a screen test. “The director, Adrian Lyne, called and told me how tastefully everything would be done,” Beals says. “And I said to him, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t know you. I don’t know how tastefully you’re going to do everything.'” Lyne agreed to use a body double, and Beals deferred her fall semester.

A huge hit when it was released 25 years ago, Flashdance landed in America’s pop culture pantheon not so much for its rather standard Cinderella story line as for the fashion frenzy it inspired. Oh, those leg warmers, that ripped gray sweatshirt! “I thought everyone knew that trick,” Beals says of the scene where she wiggles out of her bra without taking her sweatshirt off. “I did it all the time when I was a kid.”

Midlife agrees with Beals, who has already identified running a marathon by the time she hits 50 as a goal. “I think it takes a lifetime to know your authentic self,” she says. “I love that. There are many more lessons to learn. Like, I’ve got to learn to play the piano and how to blow-dry my hair.” She flashes a wide, knowing smile. “I’m only half joking.”

Watch Beals in her current regular gig, and time won’t feel like it’s disappeared:

Feeling the love from Harvard to West 4th Street and back again: If you caught this summer’s production of ‘Hair’ at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, you got a preview of what American Repertory Theater subscribers have to look forward to from the theater’s new artistic director, Diane  Paulus, a late boomer who concedes she’ll need all of her generation’s wit and energy to tackle the job all at once.

On the list of her accomplishments as a theater and opera director, Ms. Paulus, 42, could point to “The Donkey Show,” an adaptation of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” set to 1970s disco that played the Pyramid Club and Club El Flamingo in New York as well as watering holes abroad; a Monteverdi “Orfeo” in the vein of Truman Capote; the English National Opera-Young Vic production of “Lost Highway,” based on the David Lynch movie; last summer’s pro wrestling-flavored “Turandot: The Rumble for the Ring” at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, N.Y.; and the New York Shakespeare Festival’s “Hair,” now at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Generation MTV in their sensory overload, often with compact running times and orgiastically esoteric in their sourcing, these productions could take the starch out of the most tightly stuffed J. Press shirt.

At the Delacorte last month a tomboyish young techie type scooted around the bleachers during rehearsal one 95-degree afternoon and turned out to be the director. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Ms. Paulus urged her sweltering cast. “Feel the love. Share with the audience. But not kitschy. It should be a snapshot of Fourth Street.”

To Ms. Paulus falls the task of revitalizing a theater that
has lost luster and audiences since its heyday in the 1980s under
Robert Brustein, who retired in 2002 but retains the title artistic

She can and has drawn on many different cultures, from hip-hop to
Aeschylus to the American musical classics reflected in her staging of
“Kiss Me Kate” at the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, N.Y., this
summer; adaptations of Cornelius Eady’s bluesy work; and the love story
of her own G.I. father and Japanese mother in the aftermath of World
War II, told in her acclaimed “Swimming With Watermelons.”

“It’s going to be 24/7,” said Ms. Shapiro, a Steppenwolf Theater
member and the director of Northwestern University’s graduate directing
program, who praised the selection of Ms. Paulus. “When I thought about
it, I realized there would be so much to do in the beginning, I
wouldn’t see the inside of a classroom for two years.”

Ms. Paulus will have a permanent academic appointment and will
somehow have to make even more time to help explore the controversial
question, fast-tracked by Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s new president,
of whether to establish an undergraduate theater concentration.

A chance for wisdom from Marie Wilson: We’ve been remiss, we fear, in just now mentioning the 92 Street Y’s Ruth Stanton Series
of lectures by women. Especially since, this super-political fall, it’s
being inaugurated by a chat between the slightly ubiquitous Gloria Steinem and Marie Wilson of
the White House Project. The latter group has been working hard for
over a decade toward the day— most agree it happened this year — when
“female President” was no longer a punch line:

An advocate of women’s issues for more than 30 years, Marie C.
Wilson is founder and President of The White House Project, co-creator
of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work ® Day and author of Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World (Viking 2004).

1998, Wilson founded The White House Project in recognition of the need
to build a truly representative democracy – one where women lead
alongside men in all spheres.  Since its inception, The White House
Project has been a leading advocate and voice on women’s leadership.

she took the helm at The White House Project, Wilson was, for nearly
two decades, the President of the Ms. Foundation for Women. ..Over the
last thirty years, Wilson’s accomplishments span becoming the
first woman elected to the Des Moines City Council as a member-at-large
in 1983, co-authoring the critically acclaimed Mother Daughter Revolution (1993,
Bantam Books), and serving as an official government delegate to the
United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China
in 1995.

By Chris Lombardi

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