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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 03/28/2008

Catching Up with Kate Walsh

By Liz Kelly

Kate Walsh, at Thursday's 'Stand Up For Real Sex Education' briefing on Capitol Hill and, bottom, at that evening's Planned Parenthood gala. (Top: Getty Images/Bottom: Liz Kelly for

I'll just come right out and say it: Even at a proximity of three feet Kate Walsh is utterly stunning, as I found out last night sitting opposite the "Private Practice" star in the bowels of a local hotel. Not bad, as she admits herself, for a 40-year-old actress, a mainstay on "sexiest" lists: Sexiest TV actresses, sexiest TV docs, sexiest Hollywood Obama supporters.

Coincidentally, Walsh was in D.C. yesterday to talk sex -- sex education -- at a packed Planned Parenthood event. Walsh's briefing drew hordes of Capitol Hill staffers hoping to catch a whiff of her star power and get a load of the woman who has kissed both McDreamy and McSteamy.

Walsh, though, says she was happiest to see Planned Parenthood's teen advocates share the mike with her to talk about their work in peer education.

"They're really amazing and crucial in sex education," said Walsh. "They fill in the gaps to supplement the abstinence program, which is really not working."

And, conceded Walsh, one need look no further than 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears for a high profile teen pregnancy. Spears's pregnancy, the actress says, only points out how far this country hasn't come in discussing sex with teens.
Walsh, a staunch Barack Obama supporter, plans to continue her work with his campaign Monday in Philadelphia. She says the Illinois Senator and presidential contender has a solid track record of supporting pro-women, pro-choice legislation.

Then, Monday, she returns to Los Angeles to shoot a "very special" episode of "Grey's Anatomy." She wasn't dropping any hints about the plot, but did mention that she'll have to go back to being a redhead for the episode, which airs May 1.

Read on for the full transcript and Walsh's take on "Private Practice," the best kiss she's had and why she persists in torturing men with her "ridiculous hotness."

Liz: How was Capitol Hill today?

Kate Walsh: It was great. A great experience. I had never been to the Capitol, so that was exciting.

Liz: I hear you had a packed house.

KW: We did. Lots of people and the most exciting part for me is to see the teens speaking out and all the contributions they make to the teen advocacy groups across the country. They're really amazing and crucial in sex education. They fill in the gaps to supplement the abstinence program, which is really not working.

Liz: So do you think you made any impact?

KW: I don't know. I hope so! I'm glad that we had such a big crowd. I think there is real interest and this is kind of a hot topic right now. And this is crucial right now considering the New York Times article that came out that said one in four teens has STIs [sexually transmitted infections]. That's just obscene and unacceptable for the 21st century United States.

Liz: And when you hear about teens, like 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, being pregnant -- how far back does that set the work that you and Planned Parenthood are doing to educate about pregnancy prevention?

KW: I don't know about setting us back. But it's clear that sex is still not a topic that it is comfortable for people to engage in in this country. Sadly, I think there's still a huge lack of education -- not just with educators, but also with parents and children. I think innately, it's just an uncomfortable thing to talk about. Even the most progressive, educated parents have a hard time. There is this sort of biological, psychological emotional difficulty when it comes to really educating and talking frankly about sex with your kids. I think it's probably just human nature. It's hard to imagine your kids becoming sexually active and really accepting that and having frank conversations about it.

Liz: Would it be valuable for people like Jamie Lynn Spears to cross the aisle and take up the cause of sex education and pregnancy prevention?

KW: I can't speak for her, but I do know that the teens that I've seen out doing outreach and educating their peers seems to be a hugely effective way to get sex education out there. We've learned that they're more apt to listen to their peers. Maybe it's easier for them than to have that conversation with parents. But I think a lot of that is that parents just don't know how to communicate. There's been a great sort of pilot program Planned Parenthood has been doing called "Real Life, Real Talk" that tries to educate both parents and teens on how to have that conversation.

Because abstinence is great and a valuable tool, but it's only one and by and large most teens are not at some point and there has to be somewhere for them to get this education. If we're able to educate them about science and English literature and math and sports -- if we can encourage kids to play football, we have to have sex education. It's just part of being a knowledgeable person.

Liz: What about on "Private Practice." Have you tried to work any of this message into the show?

KW: Luckily I work for a wonderful woman -- Shonda Rhimes, who created both "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice." I know one of the clips they're showing tonight is from an episode dealing with teen STIs. In that episode Audra McDonald plays Naomi, who is a really gifted fertility specialist, her husband is a top psychologist, internist -- two people who you think would be incredibly comfortable talking to their daughter about sex and STIs and yet they haven't had that conversation. So you see these two girls who are 12 and 13 come in, they're sexually active and have an STI. So, I think they do a great job of capturing the ethical issues and the real life drama that ensues.

I pitch what I can, but I didn't pitch that episode. I just happen to be really lucky to work with people that are interested in raising those issues and the ethics of medicine and playing out those stories.

Liz: So, I saw you took part in the "Yes I Can" Obama video earlier this year. Just wondering, are you still in the Obama camp?

KW: Yes. Absolutely. I'm actually going to Philadelphia tomorrow to campaign for him.

Liz: Hillary Clinton has a track record where teen pregnancy prevention is concerned. Do you know much about Obama's history in this area?

KW: I know that he is very much pro-Planned Parenthood, pro-choice and pro-women. He has enacted legislation in the state of Illinois for women's health care and children's health care, so he's an avid supporter of female medicine and female health care. And he has a vested interest -- he has two little girls.

The sad thing about there being no real sex education in public schools, kids are going to learn it from their friends who don't know anything, on the streets or through media, which isn't ideal.

Liz: So "Private Practice" returns in the fall. Have you started filming the new season yet?

KW: We don't start shooting until May. But I'm actually going back to do another episode of "Grey's Anatomy" on Monday.

Liz: Any hints?

KW: No, I just know I'm going back for a very special reason. [Laughs.] But it'll be fun to go back.

Liz: So, you're a newlywed (Walsh married 20th Century Fox executive Alex Young in September 2007). Any plans for a family?

KW: Right now we're just planning on being newlyweds. It'll be seven months April 1, so we're just enjoying our lives and doing all that. We bought a house together and we're getting settled in slowly but surely. It was a big year between my job, his job and the wedding. It was a lot. But it's been amazing.

Liz: I had a couple of question from readers to run by you, if you don't mind.

KW: Sure.

Liz: Okay, one reader said she loves your new, darker hair color.

KW: I think I have to go back to red in a few days for the show, at least a little bit.

Liz: Well, the reader wanted to know what brand you use to dye your hair.

KW: I really don't know! They're like mad chemists over there.

Liz: Another question I'm sure you've answered several times -- who's the best kisser? Patrick, Eric or Justin?

KW: That question is so ridiculous because you don't even think about it really. You're acting. But, I don't know. Just tell them my husband is the best kisser! That's the only kiss I remember.

Liz: The last reader question is from a guy who describes himself as a "happily married man" and wants to know why you continue to torture him every week with your ridiculous hotness.

KW: [Laughs] Wow! Tell him because I'm a spiteful woman. No, seriously, I'm glad. That's nice. Not a bad place to be at 40 -- torturing men out there.

By Liz Kelly  | March 28, 2008; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Catching Up With..., Celebrities, TV  
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That 2nd picture of her is horrible!

Posted by: xtine | March 28, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I agree about the 2nd pic. She's merely fantastically attractive in it.

Posted by: byoolin | March 28, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse really is, Liz Kelly. Walsh looks ten years older and apt to be described as "brassy" in it.

Posted by: 23112 | March 28, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I heart Kate Walsh!! She is a role model...

Posted by: unmute | March 28, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Liz, you rock! I am so excited you asked Kate my question (about her hair color) even if she didn't answer it! :)
I will continue my quest for perfect hair dye kismet. XOX.

Posted by: YAY! | March 28, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I adore Kate Walsh. I really hope Private Practice comes back. She's my 2008 Hollywood icon.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Uh...the second picture...really shows off what a great outfit she was wearing.

I like her as a red head better than a brunette.

She sounds pretty well versed on her issue.

I wish I had asked you how she learned to do that thing with her eyebrow. Wonder if it's something she's always done or if she had to work on it. She's gotten a lot of mileage out of knowing how to arch one eyebrow.

Posted by: methinks | March 28, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Kate Walsh is beautiful and awsome. BUT-- that second picture is awful!! I thought it was Janice Dickenson...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 28, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Whoa -- re: the second picture, please blame the anmateur photographer (me), not the exquisite Kate Walsh.

Posted by: Liz | March 28, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Sasquatch think Kate Walsh is hot-hot-hot!

Sasquatch no kick Kate Walsh out of bed if she eat crackers.

Posted by: Sasquatch | March 28, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

OK, we debated the attractiveness of SJP, but...there's really no debating here. The second picture is still gorgeous. God, what haters!

Posted by: Sigh | March 28, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Liz: Is this the "special treat"? Lord, I hope not.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | March 28, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Kate Walsh is doing great work on this issue. However, Shonda Rimes is not. She has DOCTORS hopping in and out of bed with each other with no mention of protection. George got syphilis from a nurse and the whole thing was sort of treated in a "ha, ha, oh darn look what happened" kinda way.

The new storyline -- 12 & 13 year old girls are sexually active and the big concern is they got STDs??????? How about the fact that they are 12 and 13 and having sex??????????

Really, Shonda wants to be seen as a this great feminist. She needs to be a LOT more responsible in her storytelling first.

Posted by: ep | March 28, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

gotta say, i agree with ep re: sondra rhimes and her storytelling. you've got a bully pulpit lady. keep it real, but add a dose of responsibility too.

for the record, i didn't mean to hate on the second pic, i just thought it really showed off that beautiful dress and coat kate was wearing.

Posted by: methinks | March 28, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Celine Dion wants her Key Lime lamé duster back. Geriatric hubby René can still spot her in it.

Posted by: erm | March 28, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Liz!!!

Posted by: 11:53 am poster | March 28, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Even attractive people take the occassional bad picture, and that second one is a terrible picture of her. I don't know if it is the photographer, or that her make-up looks weird, or if its the outfit. The fact that the picture is bad doesn't mean that people think she is ugly.

Posted by: Chris | March 28, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Great article. Kate Walsh is my number 1 girlcrush. Glad to see hear she is just as lovely in the flesh LOL.

Posted by: Jen | March 28, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I guess this is our special treat? Man, I don't even watch this show and have only a middling idea of who she is.

Posted by: DJ | March 28, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

ugh...i can't believe you asked her if she planned to start a family soon. that's so rude! she JUST got married! i remember being a newlywed and having to field that question. it's awful, esp. when you are older...she's 40. leave her alone!

Posted by: wats | March 28, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

yuck, she supports that empty suit politician of racial hate.

Posted by: newagent99 | March 28, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

yuck, she supports that empty suit politician of racial hate.

Posted by: newagent99 | March 28, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Ahh goody, the bigots are out. yays

The biggest problem in the second picture is that there's no lighting on her face, so it's all shadowed out. Still looks great though.

Posted by: EricS | March 28, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Um Liz? For those of us who are not Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice devotees, this really wasn't a huge treat. Great interview, but...meh.

(And for the record - I think Kate Walsh is a beautiful woman, especially with the dark brown hair...)

Now, if you manage to snag an Eddie Izzard interview when he's in town (May 1 & 2), I will be downright giddy :D

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 28, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Worst treat ever.

Posted by: Vienna, VA | March 28, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The actual Friday treat: Everyone is free to talk about ponies for the remainder of the day.

Posted by: Liz Kelly | March 28, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Smelling 'em or riding 'em?

Posted by: pinky | March 28, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I love Kate Walsh. Good interview. I like the darker hair, but glad to read she'll be back to a redhead soon.

I may even have to watch Greys again just to see her episode !

Posted by: Jake | March 28, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm just glad the pics did not show her wearing a side ponytail (didn't the Reliable Source say she wore one last night?). Yucka.
Isn't this a fashion no-no if you're over 14 years old? Please?? It's too too much: she's sexually excited by a cadillac and she wears a side ponytail. Together these things very nearly extinguish her hotness, imo.

Posted by: Yay no side ponytail | March 28, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Worst treat ever.

Posted by: Vienna, VA | March 28, 2008 04:12 PM

And the treat whiners are out as well. What did people think the treat was going to be, personally delivered (on ponyback) cupcakes?

I think this is a great treat. Great interview! Kate Walsh rocks.

Posted by: 98102 | March 28, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Bad treat. My pony just threw up in his mouth a little.

Posted by: expatasia | March 28, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

It was a good treat (and so unexpected!) but came too late in the day for me to exploit. Durn.

Posted by: methinks | March 29, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

That brick red Cadillac in her "return the favor" commercial is just insanely fugly, which makes her yuppie feminist blathering in it that much funnier.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Well, I guess that's why there's chocolate & vanilla because I find Kate Walsh actively UGLY, with her bug eyes. ICK. And as for her "acting," double ick!!!

Posted by: MJ | March 31, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

There is a debate about Kate Walsh's looks. I just took a survey of the 10 guys in my department about her looks.

Here are the results:
2 guys said WHO?, so I showed them the pictures and they said --- Below Average.
5 guys said --- Well below average.
2 said ---- UGGG!
1 said --- Slightly above average.

Posted by: DW | March 31, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

she's so eloquent. noticed how liz keeps pressing her to start yappin away about jamie lynn spears? kate's too smart & gracious to do that. she just deflected it with a "i cant speak for her"

Posted by: tk | April 2, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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