Women in Focus: Sarah Jessica Parker

sarah jessica parker

Sarah Jessica Parker is an American actress and producer who is best known for her leading role as Carrie Bradshaw on HBO television series, Sex and the City which revolutionized the portrayal of female sexuality. Bestowed with such remarkable talent, Sarah Jessica Parker is definitely one of the most prominent actresses in Hollywood.

Early Life

Sarah Jessica Parker was born on March 25, 1965 in Nelsonville, Ohio and was the youngest of the four children of Barbara Forste, an elementary school teacher and Stephen Parker, an aspiring writer. Her parents were divorced when she was a toddler and then her mother remarried Paul Forste. The family then moves to Cincinnati. They have four more children together. Despite the difficult situation of managing eight children, Barbara enrolls her children in scholarship-funded music, ballet and theater classes. She started supporting the family at a young age and brought home paychecks from dancing and singing gigs.

The First Broadway Show

Forste took her kids to New York for auditioning for the Broadway play ‘The Innocents’. After winning her first Broadway role in ‘The Innocents’ along with her brother, Timothy in 1976, Sarah and her family moved to New Jersey to support her dreams of becoming an actress.

Along with four of her siblings, she was then casted in ‘The Sound of Music’. Her first major break was the title role of ‘Annie’ on Broadway from 1979 to 1980.

Meanwhile Parker was schooled at American Ballet Theater and New York Professional Children’s School and started getting media attention in early 1980s. She debuted her career in Hollywood in 1979 with ‘Rich Kids’ in which she co-starred with John Lithgow, Trini Alvarado and Olympia Dukakis.

In 1982 Sarah gained popularity amongst the TV audiences with her geeky role in the sitcom ‘Square Pegs’. Despite being appreciated by the critics, the show got cancelled after one season.

She was also praised for her supporting role in 1984 hit ‘Footloose’. In 1985, she starred opposite Helen Hunt in ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ and was playing a lead role for the first time. After having two successful films, Sarah landed steady jobs both on the big screen and television with shows like ‘Equal Justice’.

In 1984, Sarah met her first love, Robert Downey Jr., while working along with him on the movie ‘Firstborn’. Downey was then fighting an alcohol and cocaine addiction and Sarah moved in with him to help him get through the phase. After seven years of staying with Downey and repeated efforts to help him quit his drug addiction, Parker finally decided to call it quits.

In the early 1990s, Parker made a challenging shift from teen to adult roles with L.A. Story (1991) opposite Steve Martin.

She also was critically acclaimed for her role as Nicholas Cage’s fiancée in “Honeymoon in Vegas’ (1992). She also did a couple of supporting roles in films like Miami Rhapsody (1995), The First Wives Club (1996) and Mars Attacks! (1996). She was praised for her work and she was even nominated for a Drama Desk Award.

The Making of Carrie Bradshaw

In 1998, Parker landed on the role of Carrie Bradshaw, a New York sex columnist, for the HBO series Sex and the City. The Manhattan centric show revolved around the life of four friends and was a big hit amongst the viewers and the critics alike.

Producer Darren Star sought Parker to star as Carrie Bradshaw in his new HBO series, Sex and the City. “Sarah Jessica has the biting wit I wanted the character to have, but she is also extremely sympathetic,” Star says to PEOPLE. “While she has reservations about committing to a series, she takes the part that makes her a household name and fashion icon”. She became a producer for the show in its third season.

She has won multiple Golden Globe awards for her work and also received a lot of appreciation from the fashion world. She won the first Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 2000 for Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. After receiving the award she says’ “Thank you. I’ve never won anything in my life. . .I’m not a winner”. She was awarded the same honor again in 2001, 2002 and 2004. The series was later made into a movie in 2008 whose success led to a sequel in 2010. Sarah also won her first Emmy in 2004 for Outstanding Lead Actress is a Comedy Series for her role in the series Sex and the City.

A Fashion Icon

Her Sex and the City fame made her a fashion icon with immense commercial appeal. She became the spokesperson for Garnier hair in 2003. In 2004, she signed a $38 million deal with Gap and became the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s ‘Fashion Icon of the Year’.

Parker started her own line of shoes in 2014. “All these shoes were made in Italy, [by a] third-, fourth-generation Tuscan shoemaker. That means that we’re not able to give a shoe for $99,” Parker justifies the price of her shoes. “So while not as affordable to some as I would like them to be, there is a large group of people that can now reach out and have a shoe like this that’s, you know, in my opinion, beautifully made, lasts a lifetime, will look good in their closet three and four years from now.”

Back Home

Parker has also been in the news for her personal life. After her high profile relationships with Robert Downey Jr and John F. Kennedy Jr., she married actor Matthew Broderick in 1997. Broderick like her has a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. James Wilkie Broderick, their son was born in October 2002 and is named after Matthew’s late father James Broderick and Wilkie after Sarah’s favorite British writer Wilkie Collins. Despite her hectic work schedule, Sarah admits that being a mother has totally changed her life. “Having a child changed me,” she says. “Before him I would have sacrificed myself completely for my work. But after he was born I didn’t want to miss anything. Not bath time. Not bedtime. Goodnight Moon is one of our favorite books and when I get to a page he knows, James Wilkie will finish the line for me.” Apart from being a loving and caring mother, Sarah is also happy in her marriage with Matthew.

She says,“What’s so decent about Matthew is that he is a man first. My husband is delighted by the good things that have happened to me, just as I have been for him. But for us it’s not all about the work.”

Broderick is delighted to be a father, “It’s all pluses. Even losing sleep. It’s so sweet to hold him and have him fall asleep in your arms.” To this Sarah says “What can I say; that is so lovely. I love the two men in my life.”

In 2009, the couple welcomed twin daughters, Marion Loretta Elwell and Tabitha Hodge via surrogate.

A fashion icon whose photos adore the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle, Sarah credits her love for fashion to Patricia Field, her designer for Sex and the City.

“It’s a thrill to somebody who’s loved clothing for as long as I can remember. In fact, clothing is meant to cover you and all the wonderful things that come along with covering your person. But what it’s mostly done is given me opportunities to wear extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, magnificently built dresses that I would never have had an opportunity to wear. I’m a far more modest dresser than my character, but I’ve inherited some really fantastic things.”

About her favorite designers, she says, “There’s not one occasion when I’ve worn a beautiful dress that I haven’t been stunned by the opportunity. You know, anywhere from Oscar de la Renta to Narciso Rodriguez to Isaac Mizrahi to new designers.”

Parker is close to her Jewish roots and her family and is actively involved in charity and social causes. She has also worked to gather funds for AIDS research, Legal Information Network for Cancer, PBS and school music programs. She is also the National Ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and represents them for Performing Arts. She is a member of Hollywood’s Women’s Political Committee and was awarded the 1995 American Civil Liberties Union Award.

For those of us who envy Sarah Jessica Parker’s perfect life, she just smiles and says, “I am very lucky. I have had an amazing ride with Sex and the City, and my home life is great. But nothing is perfect,” the lovely lady reminds us. “We make choices, and the key is to make the most of what is going on in our lives and make time for those people in our lives that we dearly love. That’s the real success.”

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