The Real Maggie O’Connell
Janine Turner on the new Northern Exposure.


Actress Janine Turner is known best for her role as the feisty and likable Maggie O’Connell on the hit TV show Northern Exposure. This fall, besides working on Friday Night Lights, she’s supporting the McCain-Palin ticket, even working as a spokeswoman for “Team Sarah,” a project of the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund. Turner is also author of a book, released earlier this year, Holding Her Head High: 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History. She discusses Palin, Hollywood, motherhood, the culture of life, and more with NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez.

Kathryn Jean Lopez:
Does Sarah Palin being on the national scene bring back Northern Exposure memories? Good or bad. Would you have been for McCain with or without her?

Janine Turner:
Yes, Governor Palin brings back many Northern Exposure memories.

I was always so proud to portray the spunky, self-reliant, smart Maggie O’Connell. Maggie flew her own plane, shot her own moose, marched to the beat of her own drum. She was a breakthrough television character at the time. I am very flattered when the comparisons are made between Maggie O’Connell and Governor Palin. I created a character, but Governor Palin is the real deal.

I am supporting Governor Palin with pride. I actually cried when I heard she was nominated and heard her acceptance speech via Fox News XM radio. (I was driving to Austin to film Friday Night Lights). I am supporting and applauding her character, moral fiber, intellect, feistiness, and spunk. She is the essence of the independent spirit of America — the pioneer spirit — the type of spirit that made and makes America great. I have always supported Senator McCain, and I am sure I would have supported his vice-presidential candidate, but Governor Palin has really motivated me. I am making public/press appearances to rally support for her ( Inside Edition, ABC News, Bill Bennett radio, etc) and I am also sporting a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on my car — which I am driving onto the FNL set) and wearing my McCain-Palin hat around town. I have also joined a fabulous group of women in a movement called, “Team Sarah” dedicated to advancing and defending Gov. Palin’s candidacy.

Lopez: What are your hopes for Sarah Palin?

Well first, of course, that she becomes our first female vice president! She can and will accomplish much good in Washington. Beyond that, I hope she will inspire women across the country to be more involved in the political process. Whether it is running for school board or serving in Congress, real women just like Sarah Palin have a lot to contribute. I hope she will inspire them to take the first steps toward getting more involved in their community.

Lopez: I am very uncomfortable with gender politics. I don’t think women should support women just because they are women. Do you agree? Is there something else going on here?

Turner: I do not think women should support women just because they are women. I did not support Hillary Clinton, though I appreciated her determination. It’s not simply the fact that Gov. Palin is a woman, but it’s the kind of woman she is. She’s a breath of fresh air on the political scene. Like so many mothers out there, she started with a desire to make a difference in her community. In a time when people find it easy to be cynical about politicians, Sarah’s honest authenticity stands out from the crowd. And that resonates with both women and men. If she were a man, would it get this much attention? Probably not. But her values and reputation as an honest reformer are what really draws voters to the McCain ticket. Americans are savvy voters — they are looking at more than gender. And Gov. Sarah Palin brings substantial talent and expertise to the table

Lopez: Do you find yourself alone as a pro-life feminist in “the biz”? Or are you pleasantly surprised?

Turner: I believe in life at conception and I believe every child has a destiny and a God-given purpose. Unfortunately there are not too many of us. That is for sure. But I am always pleasantly surprised when someone in Hollywood has the courage to stand up for life. And I hope we see more Americans from all sectors stand up to protect the most innocent among us and speak out about the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. It is beyond my comprehension that Sen. Obama thinks babies who are accidentally born after a failed abortion should just be left to die. It is truly heartbreaking.

Lopez: When did you become political?