Jamie-Lynn Sigler opened up about her decision to go public with her multiple sclerosis. The former ‘Sopranos’ star revealed why she kept the secret for nearly 15 years in her first TV interview since her announcement. She is silent no more and has plenty to say.
The 34-year-old Jamie-Lynn Sigler made the announcement exclusively to People magazine that she has MS, i.e. multiple sclerosis, the degenerative autoimmune condition that impacts the brain and spinal cord. The actress who rose to fame on HBO’s ‘The Soprano,’ portraying Meadow Soprano, daughter of the iconic mob boss character Tony Soprano, portrayed by the late James Gandolfini. The news instantly went viral and has sparked much discussion.
Now, less than two weeks later, in an exclusive interview on Today Show with co-anchor Matt Lauer, Jamie-Lynn Sigler adds her own voice to the ongoing discussion. She opened up about why she was silent for so long, saying, that when she was just starting out in her acting career that she was advised by an “industry professional.”
She went on to say, “I know they were looking out for me at the time but they said, ‘I’m going to pretend you didn’t tell me that, and I don’t think you should every tell anyone that you have this disease, because people will limit you, people will judge you, and they won’t hire you.”
Continuing, she added, “And I took that advice. I was 20 years old and I was scared and I thought that was the best thing.”
As for how she feels now that she has gone public, she said, “I feel relief. I lived with this secret that caused me to have so many feelings of shame and guilt and fear for so many years, so I think to finally sort of feel like I’m claiming my power back and being confident with the person that I am, I feel a great weight off my shoulders.”
She spoke about the impetus to go public which was just days after she got married to longtime fiance MLB player Cutter Dykstra. The couple has one child together, a two-year-old son, Beau. And, as revealed, the timing of the announcement was purposeful.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler said, “I didn’t want to bring my son up in a home where he felt like he had to hold this secret for me, too. I wanted to be an example of strength and show him that despite what I have or my limitations, that everyone is deserving of opportunity and love and respect,” she said. “Sometimes, we have to work a little bit harder but maybe it will be a good example for him.”
Sigler also revealed that just a few family members and friends, along with some of her fellow cast members of the HBO series ‘The Sopranos’ knew of her condition. She spoke of their loyalty to her, saying “they have fiercely protected me over these years. They wanted me to come out, and encouraged me and I just wasn’t ready. I was afraid, but I’m not anymore.”
Truthfully, it’s not surprising that Jamie-Lynn Sigler would get such “advice.” Hollywood as an industry has been notorious for decades for holding up actors and actresses to stringent, often inhumane standards of acceptability. After all, we’ve heard stories of people told to get nose jobs or to lose weight. A performer with a disease that’s sometimes stigmatized would be, by that criteria, unacceptable in the extreme.
With her courage in going forward she’s done countless people a huge favor, not least, those in the industry that may also be harboring a secret and the shame and self-doubt that also goes with it. And for the public, the physical condition has another face, so to speak, another public figure who’s not afraid to be open and candid.
And of course for herself, there is liberation. She said, “I’m excited about the future. I’m excited to go back to work without feeling that I have something to hide. I feel like I’ll be a better actress for it now that I can show up and really be me.”
See the full replay video below as Jamie-Lynn Sigler opens up about her MS and her decision to go public.
Pictures: PR Photos