"Political Animals" Star Carla Gugino Wants to Inspire Girls

The TV series based on Bill and Hillary Clinton will keep political junkies happy through the summer

Hillary Clinton dances in Colombia, she wears wacky glasses and she loves some humor on Tumblr. But how will the secretary of state feel about the new USA Network series launching on July 15, Political Animals, a new drama based loosely but recognizably on her life? Sigourney Weaver portrays Elaine Barrish Hammond, a secretary of state who ran for president after being married to a philandering president and who keeps saying she won't run for president again. Hmm. Sound familiar?

But Political Animals isn't just focused on the goings on in the White House and the State Department. Washington, D.C. journalists get their share of the story, as well, with Carla Gugino playing an investigative reporter who covers the family, while trying to balance the needs of the 24/7 media beast.

With the official launch of the show just around the corner, I had a chance to talk on the phone with Gugino, known for roles in Spy Kids movies and the TV series Entourage, and asked her about her inspiration for the role. Was she trying to emulate any particular journalist she admires? She was hesitant to name just one, saying there are many women in news today she looked to in creating her character, Susan Berg.

"I'm definitely, in some ways, paying homage to Maureen Dowd," she said, referring to the irreverent and sometimes brazen op-ed columnist at the New York Times. I asked if she thought her character and the show would be a positive influence on girls who watch the show. I could hear the excitement in her voice as she responded that she hoped that the presence of so many strong women characters would inspire girls who watch the show about what they can accomplish as adults.

I also took the opportunity to get Gugino's thoughts on the current debate prompted most recently by the article in The Atlantic magazine about whether working women can "have it all."

"No one can have it all. There's always something that has to give," Gugino said. But she added, "We're all capable of doing things in all aspects of life, but life is always about choices."

As for the upshot of the short summer series, the question I'm really wondering is this  -- with Hillary Clinton continuing to say she won't run for president in 2016, would a positive audience response to Political Animals change her mind?

Joanne Bamberger writes about the intersection of women and politics at her site, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

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