Lisa Nicole Carson inspired us to live out loud. Everything about the Brooklyn queen was larger than life: hair, smile and voluptuousness. We fell in love with her as a playful lawyer on "Ally McBeal," a sisterfriend on "Love Jones" and a sultry vixen in "Devil in a Blue Dress." As Carson celebrates the release of "Ally McBeal" on DVD, ESSENCE.com chats with her about the show, her disappearing act and all of those crazy rumors.
ESSENCE.COM: How does it feel to have been such an integral part of a historical show?
LISA NICOLE CARSON: It was a complete surprise that I would be on a television. When I got the show, it took off so quickly it put me in with a whole new audience; it was major and a pleasant surprise. I love David Kelly; it was wonderful working with him and it was a pure joy to be on the show.
ESSENCE.COM: As the only African-American woman representing for the crew, did you feel the pressure to watch everything you did?
CARSON: [My character] Renee Raddick had a great sense of humor and she just knew how to get it out there to get her point across. At times I felt my kinship to her was her strength. It was an opportunity for a strong, Black, educated woman to be portrayed in a really fierce way.
ESSENCE.COM: Well, we missed you! Where have you been hiding?
CARSON: I took a break. I'd been going at it for such a long time and needed some time away from [Hollywood] but it's been a good time. I've missed being in the business. I've missed performing since second grade and professionally since I was 15. My time away just snuck up on me. It hasn't been 10 years but it's getting close. I've always been a singer and an actress, but the acting took off before the singing. Lately, I've been writing a lot of music and just working on that.
ESSENCE.COM: Your absence caused many to speculate and wind the rumor mill.
CARSON: To be honest, I've heard so many crazy rumors about me being on drugs or doing PCP or some kind of crap--that was the one that I really wish I could have erased because it's so unlike me. I'm pretty much on the wild side of life, but I'm no druggy. No one saw me doing anything crazy like that. Back then was a wild time and I was enjoying myself but the stories were untrue.
ESSENCE.COM: There were many reports that alleged you suffered with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Is that true?
CARSON: Honestly, it isn't something I wish to discuss at this time, but I will say that it's always been important for me to be a positive role model. I'm very rooted in the community and a child of the universe, so I definitely have to speak for my people. That was so negative and I never anticipated it. It just made me want to pull away. I couldn't handle it. It was such a mess and at one point trying to do battle with that and fight that war, I just couldn't. Instead I chose to retreat so that I could realign myself and get a grip.
ESSENCE.COM: And how are you feeling nowadays?
CARSON: I've been very introspective, because I'm the type of person who believes the only way you can progress and learn from your experiences is to be a very honest person about where you've been and where you want to go. I've never felt a high point in my life, so I'm always looking to strive and be a better person, and that's what I plan to continue doing.
Check out Lisa Nicole Carson in the "Ally McBeal" DVD in stores now.