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Bi-coastal actress Sarah Rafferty, a Connecticut native, stars as attorney Donna Paulsen in the hit USA Network series 'Suits,' currently in its sixth season. The Hamilton College and Yale School of Drama graduate, who also studied theatre in London and Oxford, is married to (non-actor!) Santtu Seppälä; the couple has two young daughters, Oona, 8, and Iris, age 4.
In this chat, Rafferty—who does charity work with Alzheimer’s Association and The Brain Project—talks about what’s next for Donna, the importance of dance parties, and why she loves FaceTime.
What do you enjoy most about playing Donna?
Donna is fearless, always speaks her mind, and leads from her heart. It’s a pleasure slipping into her stilettos on a daily basis! Season 6 is a time for Donna to circle the proverbial wagons and protect her Pearson Specter Litt family. And while the stakes are incredibly high for everyone at the office, viewers will see a lot of humor return to the show. Donna and Louis (Rick Hoffman) have lots of fun, light-hearted moments ahead.
Do you bring your children to the Toronto set of “Suits”?
My kids love coming to set. Of course, their favorite stops are the “candy truck” also known as craft service, and the hair and make-up trailer. We spend so much time there that sometimes I fear that they think I get my hair and make-up done for a living. Also, fittings are tons of fun. My girls have been dressed up in outrageously gorgeous couture on a few occasions. Those wardrobe room photos are treasures for me.
What life lessons have your girls taught you?
Spontaneous dance parties can cure everything!
How does your volunteer work inspire your girls?
I just pass on what my mother taught me—be mindful of the needs of others. I have watched my mother live a happy life because she is living a meaningful one. I hope we can all follow suit.
How do you stay connected to your daughters when traveling for work?
I thank God and Steve Jobs’ team of geniuses for FaceTime! I don’t know how I would live without it. We sometimes have story time via FaceTime or I just sit on the counter at breakfast while they slurp their cereal and chat.
Speaking of traveling, can you share some travel “hacks” to make traveling with kids so much easier?
Well, I may not be the best person to ask because when we travel, rules go out the window. Snacks, lollipops, and screen time are in abundance.
It’s tough to raise daughters! What messages do you have for them about confidence and love?
Right now, my daughters are at very different developmental stages. With my four-year-old, we focus on empathy. When her sister was crying the other day, she literally got a tissue and wiped away her tears and kissed her. It was so lovely. With my eight-year-old, we are focusing on being true to herself and knowing she can talk to us about absolutely anything. I hope that as she grows and moves about in the world independently, she will feel confident because she feels deeply connected to her family. I hope she feels we can provide a safe space for anything she wants to talk about.
How did your fam spend summer vacation?
We always like to retreat to my parent’s home in bucolic Vermont. It’s a great time to unplug, visit farms, go hiking, have campfires, chase salamanders, and stargaze.