You may know her from Hairspray, her daytime television talk show – and most recently her stint on Dancing with the Stars – because Ricki Lake is nothing if not memorable. She’s smart, sassy and full of personality.
We had a chance to chat with this 43-year-old mom of two about her work, her family and her upcoming engagement. Check out the interview below:
Dancing with the Stars
Lake placed third on DWTS this past season and she was truly fantastic. From her exciting routines to her glam costumes, she stole the show!
What was your favorite part of the whole experience?
“It being over,” she says with a laugh. “I’m kidding. I loved the hair and makeup and playing the characters. It was really fun every week to come up with a new look or period. And the whole thing was like the ultimate challenge. I never ever thought that I could do the things I did on that show.”
What was your favorite performance?
“I think our tango, even though the tango was not my favorite dance, was the most memorable performance of ours. But I really loved the quickstep – that was Broadway week and I love Broadway, I grew up going to Broadway shows and musicals and I did the quickstep to Guys and Dolls so that was probably the most fun for me – living out a fantasy of mine. I also loved slow waltz – that was to the song Natural Woman.
You know, I really loved a lot of them for different reasons. The freestyle – was like the one that was going to kill me. I have a broken rib now that I’m recovering from. Still. It sticks out, you can feel it.”
We loved you on the show and we really thought you had that trophy!
“I knew I wasn’t going to win. You know, against the war hero? There’s no way. I had a feeling I would be second, and then when I ended up third, I was really kind of happy because I think it made people outraged and really upset.”
But even though she didn’t walk away with the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy, she has another exciting moment in her future. Lake is all set to tie the knot with Christian Evans, 40, her boyfriend of the past several months. [UPDATE: The couple eloped in early April]
What’s the most stressful part of planning a wedding?
“Planning a wedding in itself is so stressful. We’re going to elope, we’re not having a wedding. I’m not kidding.
We hired a wedding planner and we were looking at locations and we found a location in Malibu we loved, and then we had to come up with a Save the Date list. And that was enough to give me a heart attack. The pressure of like, you invite this person, but you’re not going to invite this one. You want to keep it small but this person will be offended, and what if this person wants to bring a guest? If they’re not dating anyone, I don’t want to meet a stranger at my wedding! You know what I mean? It was like that.
And then it became about everybody else’s feelings and their needs and I was just like what? This is about me. I’m 43 years old. This is about me, and my guy and what we want. And so we just decided ultimately that that’s not what we wanted. My needs are different now, I think. And I’m absolutely so committed to this man and can’t wait to marry him but I think we’re going to make it very personal and about us. And do it on our own terms.”
You’re getting married for the second time and you’re going to have a blended family. Are your kids excited? And how will having new stepdad change their lives?
Well he already is very committed to them and he actually did get a tattoo on his finger -a mustache on his finger- and that was symbolic of his commitment to my children. He made a promise to my younger son Owen that when he and I were together for a year that he was going to get this tattoo and it was going to be for them. And so he did it. I went with him. I don’t have any tattoos and I’ve never watched anyone get a tattoo so it was a first for me, but that was – he’s as much committed to them as he is to me. So I think they’re excited.
I don’t think they care about the wedding, in fact I think it’s actually a relief that they don’t have to dress up. I’m not even going to have them at the wedding – it’s just going to be us. But they love him. He’s an amazing guy and it’s just like having more people to love. I think it’s very comforting for them – you know it’s not the traditional family.
As the mother of two boys – Milo is 15 and Owen is 10 – Lake is entering a new phase in her life as the parent of a teenager and a nearly teenager.
What new challenges do you face as your kids hit the teen years?
“Every phase, I keep thinking it’s going to get easier and it really, really doesn’t. My 15-year-old thinks that he knows everything and wants all the freedom. We were in Paris for Christmas, I rented a house for two weeks, and he wanted to go off on his own. He doesn’t speak the language, he doesn’t know his way around, and yet he feels like he’s ready and can handle walking around Paris by himself.
It’s a delicate balance. You want to give them some freedom but you also want to keep them safe.”
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
“It’s a cliché, but how hard it is. You have no way of knowing how transforming it is in every way. Your entire focus is no longer on yourself, it’s on these kids.”
For me, I’m a big birth advocate and a lot of the work I do is empowering mothers to learn about the choices that they have when it comes to have they give birth and who they have attend their birth and how that can be really life changing. Me having my baby at home on my own terms was really something that changed me.”
In 2008, Lake produced a documentary called “The Business of Being Born,” a film that explores the contemporary experience of childbirth in the United States.
What inspired you to become an advocate for this issue?
“I had been in New York at the time [of 9/11] and I watched the plane hit the building and I was very traumatized. And two days later I had to go back to work and I was doing a talk show about ‘hoochie mamas and their baby daddys’ – some dumb show. And I was like, ok, is this what I really want to be doing with the rest of my life? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I felt like I really wanted to have my legacy be something that really mattered to me.
So I looked back at all the things I believed in, all these causes, all these diseases I would love to help find a cure for and raise money and awareness. But when I looked back on my birth experience, I was so empowered and so lucky to be able to have my baby the way I did and to have a healthy child and to have all the information that i was able to have, i felt like i wanted to offer that to other women as well.
And it’s not about having the same birth experience I had; I’m not encouraging women to have a home birth or do what I did, I want them to be informed. It can help in every way – with bonding, breastfeeding and just feeling like you’re in charge of your body.”
Ricki’s New Talk Show
And speaking of Lake’s work, she’ll be back on TV this fall with a new talk show!
How will it be different from your original show?
“”It will be different in the way that I’m different. I was 24 years old when I went on the air and 35 when I went off. I’m now 43, went through a divorce, going through a remarriage. I’ve evolved and I think I’ve changed in a lot of positive ways and I think the show will follow that. The evolved, upgraded version of the old Ricki Lake Show.
Being a mom, dealing with blended families dealing with the aging process, finding time for ourselves and balancing it all.
Basically, the way I describe it – I’m looking to do the old Oprah show. Before she was a billionaire, before she had a book club and was telling everyone what book to read, she was a girlfriend. And she was in the audience with her arm around a guest in the audience and you felt like she was going through it with you. And that’s the feeling of my show.”
Can’t wait to check it out!