Jamie-Lynn Sigler: Pure and True
The tale is as old as Hollywood itself: Girl grows up with dreams of becoming a star, emerges into adulthood as a beauty, then becomes an overnight sensation. But for Jamie-Lynn Sigler, that's just the beginning of the story.
"When I was in the middle of 'The Sopranos,' maybe fifth or sixth season," the 31-year-old actress recently remembered of her breakthrough role, "[show creator David Chase] came down and he was like, 'What are you doing?' And I was like, I don't know. I was terrified, scared … a show I'd been doing for like five years, and I don't know what I'm doing all of a sudden!"
At a time when most actors would be coasting, Sigler instead found herself re-evaluating her character, confused about the nature of the role. Then, the show's triple-Emmy-winning leading man gave her some advice.
"Jim [Gandolfini] pulled me aside and he was like, 'Look, it's OK. Everyone has an acting coach; I have an acting coach I work with every day on this … I just want you to let go of all this fear,'" she revealed. "He gave me his acting coach; I worked with her for a couple weeks. And she was like, 'You need to relax again, don't let things get in your head.'"
"And that," she explained, "Is when I learned to just get out of my own way."
Which led to another career-defining decision: After "The Sopranos" left television amidst massive fanfare in 2007, Sigler uprooted her entire life. "I moved out here to L.A. when 'Sopranos' was done," the Long Island native explained. "I didn't have a job to go back to … I wanted a clean slate. I sold my apartment in New York, every piece of furniture, every dish, every fork, knife, sheet and towel. I literally just had my clothes."
In the years since, Sigler has had her ups and downs — and learned that the key to finding fulfillment as an actor is twofold. "I'm trying to have fun, I'm trying to challenge myself," she explained of the balance. "I never want to feel comfortable. But I always want to laugh on every set. No matter the subject matter, I think it's important to let loose."
"We always did that on 'Sopranos,'" she recalled of the drama regarded by many to be the finest to ever air on broadcast television. "It was such a light set; you would never think so."
What advice would Sigler give to a young actor?
"Remember why you wanted to do this in the first place. Remember that moment, that first thing you ever did that made you fall in love with acting, and hold on to that. Because whatever that moment was, it was pure and true."