'Legal' gives ex-'Life' star a place to shine

The chance to step into a lead series role came at the right time for Sarah Shahi.

She had just become a mother when she auditioned to play headstrong Kate Reed, a mediator at a San Francisco law firm, in the USA Network dramedy “Fairly Legal.”

“After having the baby, I felt that anything that would take me away from my child would have to be life-changing,” she says. “I wasn’t going to be just another actor for hire.”

Klutzy, funny, independent Kate is the driving force in nearly every scene. Shahi, who was previously a regular on “Life” and “The L Word,” says it was the rebel in Kate that particularly appealed to her.

“It’s that untameable nature of hers — the passion and personality,” she says.

And though she recently participated in a sexy Esquire photo shoot, Shahi says she appreciated that the pilot script made no reference to the character’s looks or ethnicity.

“I like that Hollywood is becoming more color-blind, realizing that people are people no matter their ethnic backgrounds,” says the American-born actress, who is of Persian and Spanish descent. “I also like that, even though Kate is flirty and feisty, no one’s fawning over how gorgeous she is.”

Shahi does take issue when people refer to “Fairly Legal” as a law show. “I’m not a fan of heavy procedurals,” she says, “and USA really does let the characters come out. I do everything in my power to make the show more human and relatable. To me, it’s about characters, Kate Reed and her heart.”

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: THE ACTRESS
Minority actresses still face issues | Procedurals favor the femmes | Actresses ready to do it again | Actresses in contention
Lead Actress
Laura Linney | Martha Plimpton | Kathy Bates | Mireille Enos | Alexander & Harmon | Emmy Rossum | Sarah Shahi | Melissa McCarthy

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