Q&A with Kim Delaney of ‘Army Wives’

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She might always be recognized as Jimmy Smits’ wife, detective Diane Russell, on “NYPD Blue,” a key player who won an Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy Award, a Golden Globe nomination and multiple Screen Actors Guild nods. Once Smits’ character died, it was difficult placing Delaney in the forefront, so her character soon departed the show as well.

Now the former daytime actress, who has moved on from “All My Children’s” Pine Valley and the mean streets of The Big Apple to Charleston, S. C., where the Lifetime network’s hit drama “Army Wives” is filmed, is in the midst of decorating a new home in Charleston, where her 19-year-old son, Jack, will be visiting soon with a few Los Angeles friends.

Unlike her former characters, Delaney was a quiet and shy student growing up at J.W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School in Philadelphia. She began a modeling career during her senior year and became a member of Elite Model Management. After graduation, she studied acting and soon landed her first job as teen Jenny Gardner in 1984 on “All My Children.”

Three years into her run, she quit to explore other acting options. She performed off-Broadway and appeared in a number of feature films and made-for-TV movies. Before her breakthrough role on “NYPD Blue,” her TV credits included “Tour of Duty” and “The Fifth Corner.”

Now Kim spruces up Lifetime’s mega-hit “Army Wives” as Claudia Joy Holden. The show about military wives and their developing friendships has given new life to Delaney who loves the Carolina laid-back lifestyle and her new friends. 

Bankrate: How is life in Charleston different from Los Angeles?

Kim Delaney: The pace is definitely slower in Charleston. I can actually sit down now and have a cup of coffee with someone, which is really nice. You’re not grabbing your Starbucks and taking off. For instance, today I’ve already done my yoga and come back home and I may get called into work because of the rain. We have to be prepared for changes of weather constantly. I live right on the Battery and just take walks by the water. It’s beautiful and therapeutic. Having lived in New York City and growing up in Philadelphia, I like the city, but this is just charming.

Bankrate: I know you have a home in Los Angeles, so do you rent in Charleston?

Kim Delaney: I just bought a home in Charleston … that was my last big splurge that was just for me. Everyone else on the show is leasing, but I bought a house. It was built in 1895, one of those old Charlestonian houses with fabulous verandas, beautiful windows (and) gorgeous hardwood floors … it’s really pretty. 

Bankrate: Have you splurged on furnishings and decorating now that the show has been picked up for another year and you have a sense of financial stability?

Kim Delaney: Well, I have this amazing desk that was a big splurge. It’s like a piece of art. I like furniture. It’s stingray (hide) and mother of pearl — simply gorgeous. I got it in Los Angeles. (I) was actually going to go to this antique and hardware store but parked in the wrong spot. I just went into this store where I found all these great pieces of furniture. I found a surfboard mirror that I sent to Charleston because it’s perfect for the surfing here. 

Bankrate: Is that an extravagant hobby of yours — shopping for furniture?

Kim Delaney: Yes, I’d say so. I definitely like that better than shopping for clothes or stuff for myself. I mean, I love clothes, but I’m not one to go into a store and look at clothes and shoes like other women. I’d rather go look at furniture. I love the estate sales of furniture too, so I consider it an investment of sorts.

Bankrate: “Army Wives” has proven very successful and was picked up early for next season, season three.  Does this give you peace of mind as far as financial stability is concerned?

Kim Delaney: Considering the business I’m in, oh yeah. To be picked up early, it’s so helpful for all of us and I’m so happy for the crew because they can go plan a life and vacation with their families. It gives everyone a breath. Life changes and you never know what happens, but at the moment, for another year, I’m guaranteed an income. And I have a child now to put through college, so I’m not stopping anytime soon.

Bankrate: Are you surprised by the success “Army Wives” is enjoying?

Kim Delaney: I am. I loved the scripts when I first got them. But you never know what an audience is going to like.  We’re having a great time shooting in Charleston. It’s almost like we’re in our own little bubble on an Army post. We are a little family that gets together and gets along. It’s nice to know that people are appreciating all the work we’ve put into this show.

Bankrate: What are some of your favorite things to do off camera with the rest of the cast and crew?

Kim Delaney: Well, golfing is becoming a big thing here. I’m learning. We do movies together. We love to have barbecues at (each other’s) homes. Or, we’ll all go out and meet at a restaurant because the food here is phenomenal. 

Bankrate: What do you think ensures your happiness?

Kim Delaney: I was just talking about that at yoga today. One thing someone said was “forgiveness will make you happy.” Letting go. But what ensures my happiness?  Probably taking care of myself, because then I’m good for me and everybody else.

Bankrate: If you had only ten minutes, how would you put yourself together?

Kim Delaney: A coat of black mascara, real fast; some under-eye concealer; some lips.  And just twist my hair up in a simple barrette. 

Bankrate: Now that Jack is going off to college, looking back, what do you think motherhood has made you realize? 

Kim Delaney: As he learns, I learn something else about myself, … just to have that joy he has. To look at these kids’ faces, they’re just so open (to each new day). You watch them go off to college, and (doors for them) are wide open everyday. That’s what I’ve learned.