Elisa Donovan Debuts Holiday Film, Talks New Motherhood

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Best known for her roles as Amber in Clueless and Morgan on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Donovan currently stars in the ABC Family franchise The Dog Who Saved Christmas. The latest installmentThe Dog Who Saved the Holidays, hits retail shelves nationwide Tuesday (December 4).

The actress, 41, opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her 7-month-old daughter Scarlett and the joys of new motherhood, her October nuptials to Charlie Bigelow, and her upcoming plans to write a book on pregnancy and new motherhood.

CBS: Tell us about your new movie, The Dog Who Saved The Holidays. Tell us all about the family film.

ED: “Oh, it was an absolute blast making this movie! It is the fourth installation in this series of holiday movies, so I have played this character for quite some time now. I play Belinda Bannister, wife of George (Gary Valentine), and we have 2 children and a family dog, Zeus (voiced by Joey Lawrence) that talks, who generally gets us into and out of various messes.

The movies are sort of like the Vacation movies, crossed with Home Alone. When the producers said they were ready to make this one, I was pregnant. So they wrote my pregnancy into the script, which was amazing.

Gary and I have such great chemistry. We honestly laugh all day long when we work together, it’s such a treat. And this time Shelley Long was added to the cast. It was an honor to work with her, she’s one of the great comedic actresses. We shot it when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant, so when you see me exhausted or having comedic emotional meltdowns on screen, just know that they are most likely based on reality [laughs].

Many of the situations were ripe with material that I could literally draw on from what I was going through. But mostly, I felt unexpectedly calm and happy the whole time. I kept thinking, ‘Jeez, I should get pregnant and work more often!’ It was a special experience for me, and I’m so excited that one day I will be able to show the movie to Scarlett and say, ‘Look, you were in there the whole time!!’

CBS: You’re a new mom to 7-month-old daughter Scarlett. Congratulations! How is new motherhood so far?

ED: “It is simply the best thing ever! I am humbled and ecstatic and enchanted on a daily basis. It’s a monumental shift in my life of course, and one that has been amazing. I’m loving it.

It’s exhausting and exhilarating all at once. It’s incredible Scarlett is just a part of us now, I can’t remember what life was like before her. I learn something new about her and myself every day. Sometimes I look at her and I think she knows a lot more than me…uh oh!”

CBS: How is baby Scarlett doing? What kind of baby is she? Are you getting any sleep?

ED: “She is an incredibly chill baby. I did vinyasa yoga almost everyday when I was pregnant, literally up until the day before I gave birth. And I can’t help but think this has contributed to her really mellow and easy going temperament.

She loves music, and truly only cries when she’s hungry or tired. She really likes to be in the mix of things — she would prefer to be up and about with us and our friends, rather than playing alone in her crib or on her activity mat.

She is a reflective, contemplative kid — she will give you the stare down before she gives you the smile. But when she does give you the smile, it is just awesome. I think she is going to start talking early, she started making sounds like she was trying to talk when she was 3-months-old. I know, all moms think their child is a genius– I guess I’m no different [laughs].

As for sleep — well, I’m trying to be zen about the fact that I basically haven’t slept much since late April before she was born. It is getting better though, and it’s all worth it. Somehow you’re able to metabolize all of the lack of sleep, etc. and get through it. It’s just the new normal.”

CBS: We hear you just got married – congratulations! We’d love to hear all the details. Was Scarlett in your wedding party? Did you have childcare in place so you could enjoy your special day?

ED: “It was amazing! The whole weekend was just perfect. Planning a wedding while you’re pregnant and finishing the planning when you have a newborn child, really puts things into perspective. In other words, worrying excessively about flowers or table settings or the color of place cards is simply not an option. Our answer to any question about how we ‘envisioned’ one thing or another was always, ‘We just want everyone to have fun. We want it to be meaningful and really, really fun.’ And that’s exactly what it was.

We got married at The Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, Calif. The ceremony was outside on the vineyard lawn. It was beautiful and personal and spiritual, officiated by our dear friend Doug Barber. And then the reception was in the clubhouse with a gorgeous and elegant dinner, followed by some serious dancing.

Everyone stayed way past the end, and afterwards we all went up into the hotel bar and kept dancing and visiting ’til 3 am. It was magical. We brought a wonderful nanny with us that we found specifically for our wedding weekend. She took excellent care of Scarlett, and any family members and friends that hadn’t met Scarlett yet were able to visit and spend time with her.

Scarlett was present at the ceremony as well, which was very special to us. She was in the back row with the nanny, and she was the first person I saw as I started to walk down the aisle. It was perfect.”

CBS: How are you balancing motherhood and your career? Did you take a maternity leave?

ED: “After shooting the Holiday Dog movie while I was pregnant, I took a break. Then when Scarlett was 2-months-old, we had a Clueless reunion photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly. That was a challenge in certain ways (who wants to be in a tight dress and photographed when you just gave birth 2 months before?!), but it was also really great that Scarlett and Charlie could come with me and spend the day at the studio with me. But other than that, up until now I’ve just been focusing on being a mom and writing a mommy blog. But I’m feeling ready to go back to work now.”

CBS: What’s up next for you?

ED: “We have had a really big year so far, so we are enjoying having a little rest and relaxation at the moment while we can. But I’m looking forward to getting back to work. I miss it. My work is so much a part of who I am, of my inner life and creativity. So I’m really looking forward to incorporating Scarlett into that part of my life — of sharing my experiences with her. In the mean time, I’m writing a book about pregnancy and new motherhood, so that (along with my inspiration for it) is keeping me pretty busy.”

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