Fifteen years ago, Ally McBeal won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. The series starred Calista Flockhart as the short-skirted lawyer McBeal, who worried about her love life as much as her career. Back then, the show was having its moment — and so was Lisa Nicole Carson.
The actress, who also had a recurring role on ER, played McBeal's best friend and roommate, District Attorney Renee Raddick. The stunner's main job was to dole out sensible advice to her neurotic friend.
Carson had no idea that the show, which ran from 1997 to 2002, would be a huge success, much less win such a prestigious honor. In fact, the 45-year-old could have used an awards-show primer, she admitted to Yahoo TV.
"To be honest, at that time, I wasn't really familiar with the Emmys or Golden Globes or anything," Carson said. "So when everything started to jump off for AIly McBeal, I just thought I was going to a really fancy party. I didn't realize it was a big award ceremony. I get there and I see everybody that's from television, and I think, 'Oh this is something different.'"
She added, "I didn't really get the gist of everything that was going on with the award season and the big extravaganzas of the Emmys and Golden Globes. I think I remember the first couple of award shows I went to, I didn't even get my hair and makeup done. I just did a homemade job and put on a fancy dress and went. I was really out of the loop."
The moment on the Emmys stage is hazy, but Carson does recall the thrill of the win.
"From what I can remember about it, it was just über-exciting. Everything was on 10." And when they won? "It was full-on screaming, like a gang of kids were there, screaming and carrying on, running up on the stage."
Except for a 2009 reunion, Carson has not kept up with her former co-stars. In fact, she moved to New York and left acting for over a decade.
There were reports claiming she suffered from mental illness after being fired from ER and Ally McBeal for "erratic behavior," that she had been arrested for disorderly conduct at a hotel in 2000, and that she had been sent to a mental health facility.
Rumors of health issues persist, but Carson said she's not sure "when to divulge" that chapter in her life.
"I took a vacay from the whole Hollywood situation," said Carson. "I just took a break in general. It was the first time in my life that other things took priority over show business and my career. It was a necessary break. I didn't intend to stay out of the scene for that long," she explained. "Life just happened."
Carson, who had parts in the feature films Eve's Bayou and Love Jones, worked on the two TV series at the same time — often on the same day. "Sometimes I was on set on Ally McBeal, and they would take me clear across town to ER." (Carson played Carla Reece, who had a child with Eriq La Salle's character.) "I'd work the rest of the night on ER. It was pretty crazy," she recalled.
These days, it's a different story. "I'm just out here like every struggling actor, doing the grind. Auditioning, reading scripts. It's not a problem for me," she said. Still, she added, "keep your fingers crossed."
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