What's your fondest childhood memory from Asheville?
My grandmother had a beautiful old home here, and we'd come for the summers; it's now a bed-and-breakfast called the Blake House Inn. At the time, there was a freshwater swimming pool across the street. The water was freezing, but my sisters and I would swim and swim until our grandmother hung a towel on a boxwood in the front yard. That was our version of a dinner bell.
After living in New York for 11 years, what drew you back to Asheville?
They say you can't have it all, but here you can get pretty close. We're a quirky little city that's a hub for the arts with an incredible contemporary ballet company, guild potters, and music venues like The Orange Peel, where I go for local acts, such as Sons of Ralph. But my favorite: the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm a member of a local hiking club; we do overnight trips that would blow your mind.
Did you have any adjustments to make when you moved back to the South?
I had grown accustomed to the abrupt New York lifestyle with no time for cordialness. When I moved back I found myself thinking "Quit talking and do your grocery shopping." As time went on, I got back into a healthy Southern groove. Now I'm just like everybody else—"How are you?" and "Isn't it a beautiful day?!"
Unlike some Southern stars, you've maintained an authentic accent. Intentional?
Yes. As an actress I've mastered many accents, but for my real life I prefer a Southern accent, because it's beautiful, charming, musical, feminine, and sexy all rolled into one.
What is the biggest misconception about Southerners?
That we're unintelligent. Our slow politeness is interpreted as mud for brains. But we watch and think and keep our mouths shut when others should. And look at the list of Southern writers—William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Thomas Wolfe. Now, if we're stupid, where did these people come from?
Do you have a favorite set-in-the-South film?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I will forever be in love with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch—he's the perfect man. I've looked for years, but can't seem to find him anywhere.
What's your hidden talent?
I ride bareback really, really well.
Last thing scribbled on a paper napkin?
No writing involved: I kissed one with red lipstick.