Sixteen years after she was last seen in The Naked Truth, Tea Leoni makes her come-back in a television series produced by Morgan Freeman – Madam Secretary. She plays Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst-turned-college professor, and a mother of three. When the President of America spots her quick wit and intelligence, she is unexpectedly made Secretary of State. The actor gets candid about the role ‘which is every little girl’s fantasy’ and speaks about her inspiration and how playing the character is fulfillment of one of her lifelong dreams.
Portrayal of a Secretary of State.
I have been impressed by a few of the women who have held that position: Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton, more recently. But this is really fun. You get to see the humanity behind the decisions, the struggles and a glimpse into their home life.
There is something touching about the idea that behind the great Oz is a girl who needs to muck out a stall, get the kids to school on time and then clean up after the cats.
What would you say is the USP?
We are playing a little bit more about what could happen in politics even if it is sometimes not what does happen. And I think that the idea that women are struggling to do it all as much as that conversation which 1,000 odd years ago, is still an interesting question. We are still doing it all.
Secretaries of States seem very austere and in control of things. What I loved about Elizabeth is that she has this incredibly full life and humour. She is not really sarcastic, just really earnest. I appreciated that very much.
Politics and TV shows.
I remember watching Hillary Clinton and being impressed by the decisions she made. But this show looks at the humanity of it. It’s hard to feel sympathetic or empathetic with people in power. But I think with this show, you are going to see a woman and a mother making these decisions.
Working with Tim Daly.
I was really excited when I heard that Tim would take this role (as my husband on screen) because for a leading guy to be able to portray such a successful man alongside of a powerful woman, he has to really be willing to go into territory that we haven’t seen on television.
Choosing this as your comeback.
It was coming from Morgan Freeman through Nina Tassler at CBS and I have a great respect for Nina and her taste and Barbara Hall at the helm. Then I was given the script and by page three, I was hooked. The fact that Morgan has no problem recognising the power, glory and potential of women in politics, in business, in entertainment, or pretty much anywhere in the world, added to it!
Premieres January 10,
11 pm on AXN.
— Aakanksha Devi