We’re continuing to look back at recent issues of Scientology’s Celebrity magazine, which appears to be a victim of the pandemic. Today, we thought we’d go through issue 437, which came out in June 2017 and featured actress Erika Christensen on the cover.
Inside is a lengthy interview of the Traffic and Parenthood star, and we thought you’d want to see how it mixes her celebrity rise along with her involvement in Scientology…
From Parenthood to parenthood
Actress Erika Christensen talks about leaving her on-screen family, starting a family of her own, the role Scientology plays in her life and a new TV character that was tailor-made for her.
At an age when other kids are just learning how to read, Erika Christensen was learning about the reactive mind. “I was about seven when my mom sat me down on the living room floor and did a huge demo of the mind,” says the 34-year-old actress. “She showed me your standard memory banks of things like what you had for breakfast, but she also explained that you had a store of memories of painful moments, like stubbing your toe.” Her mother then went on to detail — in terms a seven-year-old could understand — the reactive mind and how those pictures can pop up at inappropriate times and lead to irrational reactions. In her demo, Erika’s mom moved those pictures aside, making the point that going Clear meant ridding yourself of their negative effect. “I said, ‘Well that sounds good!’ And my mom said, “OK, good!” That marked the end of the discussion and the beginning of Erika’s understanding of Scientology.
In between shooting scenes for her new television series (which stars Kyra Sedgwick and will air on ABC this fall), caring for her new addition (a daughter named Shane) and Solo auditing on New OT VII, Erika has taken the time to chat. The discussion veers from her post-Parenthood life (the NBC series ended its six-year run two years ago), to how parenthood (with a small “p”) is treating her, to how Scientology has impacted every aspect of her life. Fittingly, the setting for the talk is Celebrity Centre, which was literally the launchpad of a career that’s already passed the 20-year mark.
It was here at Celebrity Centre that she was first exposed to auditing at the age of nine. Two years later she completed the Purification Rundown and began a series of Life Improvement Courses that started her on the path to understanding about herself, Scientology and the world at large. “That’s when things really began clicking for me,” she recalls. About that time, she joined Kids on Stage for a Better World, a Celebrity Centre performance group of youngsters. She loved the singing and dancing and the electric energy of performing that creates a feedback loop with the audience.
Recognizing her interest, “My parents very casually decided to walk me through an Admin Scale.” The results solidified her determination — at the age of 12 — to become a professional actor. While it was the thrill of performing in front of a live audience that first got her hooked, Erika knew even then she wanted to work in film.
At the time, Gay Ribisi was holding acting seminars at Celebrity Centre. Erika’s mom asked if she wanted to add Erika to the stable of actors she managed, and while she said no, she did say she’d be happy to meet Erika.
“And when she met me she said, ‘OK, I’ll be her manager.’ She also got me an agent.” After Erika’s first audition, the jobs started coming in, beginning with a national spot for McDonald’s. It was quickly followed by a music video for Michael Jackson. By the age of 14, Erika was cast in her first move, Leave it to Beaver, followed by a string of guest spots on television series. But the role that would mark her as a talent to watch, came when she was 17 and cast as Caroline Wakefield, the drug-addicted daughter of the newly appointed US drug czar in Steven Soderbergh’s movie, Traffic. Erika had never so much as taken a hit of a joint, but her acting was so convincing that Stephen Holden’s New York Times review made not of it as one of the three “most indelible performances,” of the impressive ensemble cast. The other two actors he mentioned were Benicio Del Toro who won an Academy Award for his performance and Michael Douglas, who played her father.
In those early years of her career, Erika says, “I was doing school and all the Life Improvement Courses I could get my hands on, and working.” Asked if that was good training for her current life, she laughs, “Now I’m attempting to juggle my course schedule, my husband’s course schedule, being on the OT Levels, having a kid and a job.”
Spend more than a few minutes with Erika Christensen and you notice that she exudes joy. She readily admits to being an optimist and says that her post-Clear life (she attested to Clear about five years ago) has been exceedingly smooth. “One of the things that I find is that I’m more articulate. I’m able to actually communicate what I am trying to say. And I no longer have this worry that I have to protect my reputation.” She has a calmness that comes from understanding that as much as she knows, “Hey, there’s stuff I have yet to learn. I don’t have to figure everything out. And that’s definitely nice.”
Erika even attributes the easy birth of her daughter to the tech she’s learned in Scientology and her progress up the Bridge.
“It’s almost embarrassing how easy my pregnancy, labor and delivery were. We went on a bunch of crazy hikes and I was eight months pregnant. We had the baby at home. No drugs, no problem. It was really a fast labor.” In part, she thinks her training in Scientology, including her knowledge about counter-efforts, allowed her to go with the flow during the birth. And rather than exhibit the glazed-eye look of most new mothers, Erika gives the appearance of someone who is getting plenty of sleep. “My husband and I don’t always tell people how easy it’s been because we understand that other new parents have a reality that is very different and that’s totally valid.” The reality for this athletic couple (both Erika and her husband Cole Maness are avid cyclists), is that parenthood is an adventure to enjoy. “We even took Shane on a backpack trip to Yosemite when she was two months old.”
NEXT ON THE HORIZON
Erika is getting ready to head downtown for another day of filming of Ten Days in the Valley. It’s a part and a series she’s excited about. In it, Kyra Sedgwick plays a television producer whose daughter is kidnapped. “I play her sister who’s a play-by-the-rules type whereas Kyra’s character just flies through everything on passion and charm and drive.” The show is a mystery that unfolds over the course of 10 days (each episode represents another day in the life of the characters). “It was originally written as a 40-something psychologist, but I guess Kyra had liked my work, so they brought me in to audition for the role.”
After her audition, the series creator gave her a call, “I had her on speakerphone and my husband could overhear her saying, ‘You’re not right for this’ and he thought she was calling to tell me that I didn’t get the job.” But in fact, she was letting Erika know she was going to rewrite the role so it was a better fit. And that’s how a 40-something psychologist became a 30-something business manager.
As shooting for the season was drawing to a close, Erika was gearing up for her next project, working with her husband on a documentary. “He’s one of those people that’s good at anything he tries his hand at. And now maybe he’s going to be a documentarian. I’m just going to back him up, and right after we wrap Ten Days, we’re going to start filming this documentary and go interview the subject. I don’t know action-wise what comes after that.”
But as she’s done since she was a teenager, she’ll start planning her future and no doubt it will include many more memorable roles. “One of the postulates I’ve tossed out over the years is this: ‘Someone is thinking about me for a job right now.'” No doubt, Erika, no doubt.
Looking at what else was in the issue, we dug this photo of Ron, looking like the badass photographer that he was.
And Michael Peña also is featured. We find him very interesting, because he’s one of only a very few number of Scientology’s younger celebrities who joined, rather than grew up in the organization.
And finally, Scientology threw a tribute to Prince just to make an anti-drug statement? Yeah, sounds like them.
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"And rather than exhibit the glazed-eye look of most new mothers, Erika gives the appearance of someone who is getting plenty of sleep. 'My husband and I don’t always tell people how easy it’s been because we understand that other new parents have a reality that is very different and that’s totally valid.'"
This sort of thing really annoys me. The healthy, well-fed, well-rested celebrity spouting off about the ease of labour and early motherhood. And the faux humble "we don't like to talk about how wonderful we are", whilst being interviewed by a magazine that will be distributed to your entire social circle. And don't get me started on the patronising "don't get down on yourself if you're not as perfect as us. Your personal crappiness as an exhausted parent it's totally valid"...! GAH!
UGH. She was forced into doing the Purif at age 11? That's disgraceful.