Days of our Lives alum Charlotte Ross took a break from Hollywood when she welcomed her now 9-year-old son Maxwell. The single mom, 45, also known for her roles on NYPD Blue and Law & Order, is now back on the small screen in Hit the Floor, with the season finale airing on VH1 tonight (July 29).
Charlotte opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about the joys of motherhood, her passion for fitness and animal rights, and the key to balancing her busy life.
CBS: You play the character Olivia Vincent in the sizzling dance drama Hit The Floor. Could you tell us about the show and your character?
CR: “Hit The Floor is one of the funnest shows I have ever been a part of! I love dancing and the dancers on my show are so fantastic to watch. They are true athletes and I am in constant awe at their professionalism, dedication and the effortless way they dance—they make it look easy when, believe me, it’s not.
I adore all of the girls on my show and feel like a ‘mother hen’ in terms of being protective and helpful in any way I can to them. Everyone on this show is so passionate and grateful for their jobs on this show that it really is an uplifting environment to be a part of.
Our extraordinary creator/executive producer, James LaRosa, sets the tone because he is so positive, accessible and responsive to everyone’s ideas that they bring to the table… a quality that can be rare on a show sometimes. The setting for HTF is ripe for drama with sex, political backstabbing, beauty and the serious business of becoming and staying a professional basketball cheerleader. I had no idea that these women had to re-audition every year! That’s intense and means that your level of fitness can never wane.
Lastly, my character, Olivia Vincent, is extraordinarily juicy and fun to play. She was the star dancer in her heyday and decided to climb the ranks and parlay her power to become the director of the Devil Girls — a very serious job that she allows nothing less than perfection both on and off the court from her girls. My character is married to a Kobe Bryant equivalent played by the sexy Rick Fox. We love working together and laugh every time we get a script that calls for us to get kinky in the bedroom, as that is what we seem to do to keep our power couple marriage going strong [laughs].”
CBS: How did you get cast in the show? Do you share any similarities with your character?
CR: “I decided to get on board to play Olivia when I saw the writing of the entire show combined with how my character, Olivia, jumped off the page to me. It’s a big decision to do a series and something I don’t take lightly as you have to sign five years of your life away. And although many series rarely go that long, sometimes they do go the distance, and then some.
So, I try to visualize myself working with the creator, everyone involved with the show and, of course, living with my character to decide if it’s a challenge to want to take. Truth be told, I was ready to do a series lead role again but was disappointed in most of the scripts and roles I had been reading. It’s not easy to find the right fit, you know? I didn’t want to take something for a paycheck that I wasn’t passionate about – that is like death to me. Then sometimes you read something and before you get to the last page you think, ‘How can I be a part of this show?’ That’s what this was for me — a no brainer, really.”
CBS: You are also a fitness expert and fanatic outside of the show. What is your personal fitness routine like? Do you have any special diet secrets to share?
CR: “LOL! I am a fitness fanatic. I guess I kind of always have been. It has increased in the last five years because I took on a role in a Nicolas Cage film that was 3D, HD and had nudity. I wanted to challenge all of my fears and I upped my routine and literally changed my body from what I had hereditarily to a body I only dreamed about. And there was no way I was going to lose that after I finished filming!
It’s pretty much just a way of life for me now. I have a much better body than I had in my 20s or even 30s. I am not going to lie, I work and workout hard at it. Sometimes I am filled with so much soreness and lactic acid I can barely walk without moaning in pain [laughs]. But, a massage and/or hot yoga balance out my fitness training.
To be honest, if I wasn’t an actress, I would be a professional fitness competitor. I love pushing myself as far as I can go and competing with myself. Not the bulky large kind of muscle competition but, what they call the bikini competition where it is a lean, long and ripped look.
Here are a few tips: our metabolism slows as we age. Mine was never great to begin with. Cardio helps with that, but weights and adding lean muscle is the key. I burn more calories at rest now than I used to when I would do a cardio class. I used to be afraid of weights as I am petite and bulk up easily, but when I started eating every hour or so ( instead of three large meals) with lots of clean eating (no processed white foods) and upped my protein, I found that what I was losing after my hard workouts was just fat, not muscle.
Another tip: get cute Brazilian workout clothes. Not that I wanted to impress anyone (that’s for sure) as I have never worn a stitch of make up in the gym much less brushed my hair and always wear a baseball hat. But because you are more excited to get in your workout gear, seeing your progress in the mirror and Brazilian fitness wear is flattering to the female body. I would browse www.sandiegofit.com all the time and get cute stuff. Not a big deal but, added a little more ‘oomf’ every morning to push me through those more sluggish days.
Lastly, have a low calorie, lactose free homemade protein drink within 20 minutes of your workout. This ensures you are only losing fat and not muscle. I make it before I go to the gym and drink it when I get in my car after. Whey isolate with a lot of blueberries, ice, Chia seeds, a little wheatgrass powder and a few strawberries — it’s fast acting protein that goes right here you need it and ensures you won’t crash and be ravenous an hour later.
Lastly, eat apples, apples, apples and tons of water — mark my words, it’s the fountain of youth. I mix a lot of cardio with weights — jump from the treadmill to weights and back without letting your heart rate slow too much. And, please, no reading while on the tread. If you can easily hold a conversation and/or read on the treadmill, you might as well take a nap.
Push out of your comfort zone or you’re wasting your time. Try to walk fast a bit and then sprint as hard as you can for as long as you can and then walk fast until you catch your breath a minute or so, and then sprint again as fast as you can for as long as you can. Do this routine for a half hour (at least) and you will sweat profusely and the HIIT (high intensity intervals training) will torch more calories than you can even dream about. Then hit the weights! The strength, energy and body you will get will empower you in everything else you do in life.”
CBS: You are also an advocate for animal rights and even received the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Advocate Award. What inspired you to join the fight for animal rights?
CR: “I have been an animal advocate for many years now. I used to dream of becoming ‘known’ so, I could help in any way I could to be a voice for the voiceless. I could go on and on about it, but I will just point out a couple things. Yes, I did a “I’d rather be naked than wear fur” campaign for PETA and believe 30-40 animals killed for one coat when fake fur is so warm and fashion forward is truly horrific. I have been a member of HSUS, Jane Goodall Institute, ASPCA, Doris Day Animal League, Dian Fossey org, Greenpeace, African Wildlife Foundation and many, many others.
I do adore Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as they are the largest no-kill animal shelter in the U.S. The amount of healthy adoptable dogs and cats that we put down in our local county and city shelters is so tragic, it’s hard to wrap your head around. Many still do group gassings which is, simply, unconscionable. We do not adopt enough, give animals to shelters thinking they are old when they have many more loving years ahead and these shelters, simply, do not have room. If a healthy dog is kept more than 48 hours before being euthanized, they are ‘lucky.’ Cats get half that time before being killed. Something needs to change ASAP.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is what I dream of for our country, where unwanted and forgotten adoptable dogs and cats are allowed to live out their days with love and dignity while trying to find a suitable home.
Another thing I have done is speak and lobby on Capitol Hill with HSUS to help pass the Great Ape Cost Savings & Protection Act where we are trying to get all remaining chimpanzees out of testing labs and into sanctuaries so they can live out their days living among other chimps, playing in the grass, feeling the sun, have toys and not confined to a barbaric 5x5x7 crate to languish needlessly. Testing on chimps is an archaic model that is and should be completely phased out.
We are the only industrialized nation that still does so and the medical community has spoken that they are not the correct genetic model for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis C and AIDS. I am involved with www.chimpsnctaurynw.com and hosted an event for them and visit their retired/rescued chimps outside of Seattle often. They are a shining example of where chimps should go after being released from labs which, by the way, costs tax payers 1/10th the amount than staying in cages. Please donate to: HSUS, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and Chimp Sanctuary Northwest.
CBS: What is your favorite part about being a mom? How old is your son and what is he into?
CR: “Favorite part of being a mom? Oh gosh, everything, I suppose. It is certainly the most challenging job I have ever had an I am constantly trying better myself in life and work, but particularly at being a mother to my nine-year-old son, Maxwell. I need to be more patient, more involved, more cuddly, a better cook, a better role model, etc. I always feel like I can improve so much and I try not to beat myself up for it, but it’s hard sometimes.
I think we all want to be the best mom to our kids and perfection just isn’t a reality. But, I feel beyond blessed everyday when I see him. I don’t know if it’s his age, but he will just stop me sometimes, hold me and look in my eyes and simply say, “Mom, I just want you to know that I love you, you are amazing, the best mom ever.” Really!? How can a child be so mature, compassionate and loving? I have tears in my eyes as I say this, but I truly am a blessed woman to have my son in my life and I will continue to strive to never take that for granted because, believe me, I don’t.”
CBS: How do you balance your family life and work life? Do you have any parenting advice for busy families?
CR: “Balance is the challenge to any busy mom, it seems — getting it all done and trying to look good and not be overly frazzled by doing so. I think we all think everyone else does it better than we do but, the truth is, I think we all juggle the best we can. Sometimes we have good days and sometimes we don’t.
My suggestion is: make time to workout. You have to. Even if it’s a pain in the ass to drag yourself to do it. Trust me, you will have more energy to deal with everything. The stress won’t take such a toll and when you feel better about yourself, you will be a better mom.
Also, be organized – very organized. The amount of time wasted searching for things or last minute confusions because something wasn’t clear hours prior can add frustration and lose valuable time. My son makes fun of me because I have my workout clothes by the bed so I am not searching for what to wear in the morning and start dressing as my feet hit the floor. And, I have most of his breakfast stuff out and set the night before so the morning rush to get him to school and then my workout is as smooth as I can make it. I think the morning rush that can really set your day off kilter, so whatever works for you is great but for me, planning and being organized saves me.”
CBS: Do you think that women can really ‘have it all?’
8) That being said, yes, I think we can have it all. If you look at your life as half empty, you will never have it all. Or if you look at it as half full? Your health, safe home, loving kids a paycheck for something you may actually like to do, friends that care — then I think you ‘have it all,’ don’t you? The ‘grass is greener’ is a slippery slope. The key is to appreciate everything you do have — it’s a mindset I try to work on daily.”
CBS: What other upcoming projects are in the works?
CR: “Upcoming projects? I have a few things in the works: I have a film at the festivals now called The Umpire where I play pro baseballs first female umpire; I am starting to produce which is a lifelong dream of mine; and trying to check off a few lines off my bucket list. I will be going to Tanzania next month to attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. As I said, I like to challenge myself, so wish me luck.”View Slideshow »»