For Laura Prepon, change is a good thing—especially when it comes to religion and motherhood

Netflix

Netflix

Dan Buffa, Special to the Jewish Light

Being open to interpretation of something makes a human being versatile and ready for anything. Just ask “Orange is the New Black” star, Laura Prepon. The actress, whose father is of Russian Jewish descent, announced this week that she left Scientology five years ago, a practice that simply wasn’t for her. When it comes to religion, Prepon’s outlook is always open but never permanent.

That mindset has also helped her in the first years of motherhood, something that spurned a book called “You and I, as Mothers: A Raw and Honest Guide to Motherhood.” Prepon released the book last year during a pandemic, a period of time that rerouted or reshaped many people’s lives. Becoming a mother helped remind her that most things in life are better if they are updated every so often, including religious preference. In an exclusive interview with People magazine, Prepon compared the change to other aspects of her life.

“I’m no longer practicing Scientology,” Prepon told People. “I’ve always been open-minded, ever since I was child. I was raised Catholic and Jewish. I’ve prayed in churches, meditated in temples. I’ve studied Chinese meridian theory. I haven’t practiced Scientology in five years and it’s no longer a part of my life.”

Motherhood was the turning point. Something that scared her at first eventually became her new tuning fork for life’s toughest moments. Prepon has struggled with bulimia, an eating disorder involving periods of overeating, followed by vomiting and an unhealthy usage of laxatives. Imagine trying to eat everything you can, but then trying to do everything possible so it doesn’t actually digest into the body. It was taught to Prepon by her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s these days. A complicated yet loving relationship that has helped the actress overcome several obstacles, is challenged these days by a terrible disease.

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“Even if we have great relationships with our mothers, it’s complicated,” Prepon told People. “I’m still learning from it. My mother has Alzheimer’s, and I have to come to terms with the fact that this woman who was an incredible force in my life–is fading.”

Prepon’s life with her husband, actor Ben Foster, is all about seeking out new things and caring for their two kids. Motherhood has given her the strength to not only accept what’s there and what’s coming, but also to enjoy the ever-changing nature of life. Friends who were parents of older kids reinforced that notion to her early on, that kids will love something for a period of time before moving onto the next big thing or adventure.

If kids teach us anything, it’s that next month could and should be different than last month, that next year will be much different than the year before. Evolving expands past just a mental state of being and what clothes we wear or things allowed into our life. Prepon has used all the beats and setbacks in her life to power her future, one that doesn’t include Scientology or a busy work schedule.

After “Orange is the New Black” concluded its run, Prepon hasn’t exactly been racing to get new acting gigs, instead embracing the newfound role of family matriarch. Before accepting a new role, she determines the length of time that the job or role will keep her away from Foster and the kids. Instead of spending a couple months on a set, she would rather binge “Schitt’s Creek” or “The Crown,” watching old movies with her husband, who is a very busy man himself in Hollywood.

For her fans seeking out Prepon’s work in hidden places, don’t sleep on an underseen gem called “The Hero.” Brett Haley’s sweet yet honest 2017 film featured Prepon in a supporting role opposite Sam Elliott, Krysten Ritter and Nick Offerman. She played a stand-up comic who begins a romantic relationship with Elliott’s fading Western movie star. The age gap between the two goes over 30 years, but they played it deftly, digging into the limitations of that relationship while exploring mortality–whether it be in life or in career. It was also Prepon’s last film role.

When people wonder why actors take time off, they always bypass family or other issues. Adulting, and all its rigors and adventures, affects everyone. Moviegoers and entertainment consumers can refer to the people they watch as perfect souls away from the cameras at times, something that is far from true. When “cut” is shouted, they’re just regular people trying to avoid wacky religions, overcoming health disorders, and worrying for their declining parents.

Laura Prepon’s new big role nowadays is being a mom, something that is powered and aided by change. What scares many can be the life-changing tool that makes everything better.