Actress Judith Light on why she's an LGBT activist: 'We are one family, we are one humanity'

Judith Light, who most recently starred in Transparent and The Assassination of Gianni Versace, has been acting for decades. But there was a moment, as she was just starting out, when she almost left the business for good. “Early on in my career — because I wasn’t getting what I wanted and I saw other people getting what I wanted and I wasn’t getting it — I went into a depression,” she tells designer Zac Posen (a board member of Yahoo Lifestyle’s parent company, Oath, which is a division of Verizon) in the third episode (above) of Yahoo Lifestyle’s new “Loud and Clear” video series. “I thought to myself, ‘I have to get out of the business.’ I looked up and I said, ‘Look, whatever it is that you want me to do, I’m here to be of service.’ And it was in that moment that everything changed.”

Light got her big break on the soap opera One Life to Live. “Maybe I won’t leave the business now,” she remembers thinking when she was cast. But it was when she landed the role of Angela Bower on Who’s the Boss that her life really changed. “It was a cultural shift,” she tells Posen of the show. “It was the woman in the workplace and the man at home. And I have young women come up to me to this day to say, ‘I went into the fashion business [or] advertising — I knew I could do it because that was my role model.’”

Judith Light and Tony Danza in an episode of <em>Who’s the Boss?</em> (Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Judith Light and Tony Danza in an episode of Who’s the Boss? (Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

In addition to her life as an artist, Light’s role as an activist is equally important to her. She has spent decades fighting for LGBT rights. “We are one family, we are one humanity, we are of one mind, and to me the whole issue of prejudice and bigotry is something that has propelled me through life,” she says.

“Dan came out,” Light says, recalling the struggle of actor Danny Pintauro, who played her son on Who’s the Boss, and how that affected her. “And there were other people I saw that were trying to live their best and truest life.”

Her work on screen is a mirror of that activism. In the Gianni Versace miniseries, Light played Marilyn Miglin, a woman in denial about her husband’s sexuality. Discussing the series’ executive producer, Ryan Murphy, Light says: “He sees the stories that need to be put into the culture to have discussions about the shift in the culture. The Assassination of Gianni Versace is really about how the gay community was viewed at this particular time, and if the culture were different some of the things that happened may have not had to happen.”

In her life and work, Light has made sure to do what she so admires in Murphy — start important conversations. “Nothing to me is more important than being of service and kindness and gratitude,” she says. “Who is it that you want to be? … If you live in that question, you can have a very extraordinary life. The unexamined life, to me, is not worth living.”

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