In the 1980s, Molly Ringwald wasn't so much a gay icon as she was a gay surrogate, taking on the roles we often saw ourselves in: the prissy prude (The Breakfast Club), the fifth wheel of the family (Sixteen Candles), the lonely outsider with the curious fashion sense (Pretty in Pink). Living alternately in Paris, London and New York since the '90s, Ringwald, 40, has returned to Hollywood—and the small screen—as with-it mom Anne Juergens in ABC Family's groundbreaking new teen drama, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. And while she's transitioned from a Brat Pack poster girl to a working actor and blissfully contented mom, she proves that redheads, not blonds, have more fun.
ABC has been pushing the envelop with Greek, but The Secret Life of the American Teenager is kind of a big step forward, don't you think? Well, my character, Anne, is the mother of two teenage kids at a Midwestern high school. And in the first episode we find out that Amy, my 15-year-old, is pregnant. But there's really a lot of different stories going on. That's just the one that sort of launches the show.
What's your take on Anne? What I like about her is that she’s still finding herself. She’s not June Cleaver or Clair Huxtable. She got married young, when she was pregnant herself, and she finds out her husband is cheating on her. So while she’s trying to be there for her daughter, she’s also grappling with the choices she made in her own life. I think she’s going to be changing and growing a lot.
A scene from The Secret Life of the American Teenager
Has public opinion about teen pregnancy changed since you played a 17-year-old mom in For Keeps? I think it’s still a very big deal. Amy is 15, and there’s a world of difference in those two years.
But it seems like Hollywood treats the subject a lot lighter than it used to. I mean, Juno was a comedy. I think its more something we talk about now, rather than try to sweep under the carpet, but teen sexuality is still a hot-button issue. The show was originally going to be called The Sex Life of the American Teenager, but it was changed.