Kate Levering plays the tough-as-nails, succeed-at-all-costs attorney Kim Kaswell on Drop Dead Diva, who found out at the end of last season that she's—gasp!—pregnant. While Kim is always impeccably dressed, she's not always the nicest. So I was relieved to find that Kate is the exact opposite of her TV alter ego. Though equally ambitious, Kate's not at all bitchy—even when she's allowed to be, because she's just weeks away from giving birth (she's due in August) and she's filming in Hotlanta. In summertime, people!
More like a chatty best friend than someone on a hit TV show, Kate was happy to talk about all things pregnancy—including the fact that she's due with a boy, had a fun "safari chic" baby shower, and is now in full-on nesting mode, but can't do much about it because she's filming in Atlanta, while her husband, Reza, and unfinished nursery are in LA!
Read on to find out how Kate's off-screen pregnancy has influenced her on-screen one, what she thinks of everyone bashing former guest star Kim Kardashian for her pregnancy weight gain, and why she's warding off an epidural. Yes, really!
Is it true your character, Kim, got pregnant before you did? Yes! It's life imitating art, but I like to say I'm just that good of an actress that the writers wrote it, and I made it happen in real life!
So you didn't have to wear a fake belly like most actresses playing a pregnant woman? No, in fact because our filming schedule was pushed back from February to May, I showed up way more pregnant than my character was supposed to be so I spent the first few episodes holding a lot of folders in front of my belly and sitting behind desks. I even had one emotional scene where I just sort of hugged a pillow the whole time. We had to get creative!
How is Kim pregnant: extra bitchy or has pregnancy softened her? A little bit of both. She's really been thrown a curve ball and she's in denial that she's pregnant. She's such a workaholic and she's not very maternal, and at times we see her about to crack, which is nice because we've never seen that side of her character before. So there is some vulnerability revealed as well as she gets extra bitchy to people. It's kind of like a regular pregnancy, where you're just all over the place!
Did being pregnant make it easy playing a future mom? Yes, I didn't have to try hard because I already had the waddle down and was subconsciously rubbing my belly, so it was perfect.
How has it been working such long days when being pregnant is already exhausting? Well, I'm only doing eight episodes instead of the full 13, and the crew has tried really hard to keep me hydrated, make sure I'm not on my feet too much, or wearing heels for too long. Someone is always right there with a chair in between takes. So I can't complain. I've actually had a really enjoyable, carefree pregnancy. I keep joking with my friends that I should have been way more high maintenance because now my husband thinks being pregnant is a breeze. I should have milked it!
Women take to pregnancy differently. Some feel confident and feminine. Others can't help being self-conscious and moody thanks to the hormones. How have you been so far? Watching my body change has made me feel the most feminine, confident and sexy I've ever felt. Although, now I'm getting down to the end where you can't tie your shoes or shave your bikini line so then you start to feel not-so-sexy. But I've loved being pregnant. Now I'm worried that I'm going to become one of those women who's always knocked up!
So much has been made about pregnant women in the news: Kim Kardashian was criticized for "getting too heavy," Kate Middleton was said to be "too small." What do you make of all the talk?I think it's really sad that women are being made to feel bad during what should be the most special time in their lives. I worked with Kim Kardashian on the show and she is the tiniest thing with these great curves. She didn't look anything like Kate Middleton to begin with, so why should their pregnancies be compared? When you're pregnant, you have no control over what happens to your body and where the weight goes, so why make women feel bad about themselves? I think that's awful. Pregnancy should be celebrated!
What's been the best part of expecting? Feeling my baby kick for the first time was the most incredible emotion I've ever felt. Even feeling my baby kick now—all the time—that excitement never goes away.
What's been the most surprising? That people aren't more willing to help you when they see that you're pregnant. I was flying and my belly was huge, but no one offered to put my carry-on in the overhead compartment. So next time you see a pregnant woman, if you're not pregnant yourself, offer to help her!
Now for the big question: Epidural or no epidural? I probably shouldn't say this in case it doesn't go as planned, but I'm not planning on having an epidural. I have a midwife, and I've read Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth. I think our culture has scared women to death when it comes to childbirth, which is something so natural and beautiful that we shouldn't be frightened of it. But talk to me after I give birth!
Tune in Sunday, 6/23, to see Kate in all her pregnant glory (no stunt belly required!) for the fifth season premiere of Drop Dead Diva at 9 pm ET on Lifetime.
TELL US: Are you excited to see Kate's character pregnant on Drop Dead Diva? What real-life pregnancy symptoms do you hope are played out on TV?
Image of Kate Levering courtesy of Paul Smith.