just like her last name, Judith Light possesses an ethereal quality, which she’s gorgeously embraced in recent months with her red carpet looks. Working with stylist Kevin Michael Ericson since last fall, the Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actress, 73, has been a style star with minimalist outfits that still brings the glamor and also let her warmhearted spirit shine through.
“She doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to serve a look. Her aesthetic is all about pared-down,” Ericson says. He adds that “because she’s a stage performer, she understands her body. It’s innate in her. I’ve told her that she and Cate Blanchett should do a master class on how to move.”
The bicoastal actress — a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community who was honored with the GLAAD Excellence in Media Award on May 6 — has a career that spans such projects as One Life to Live, Who’s the Boss? and Transparent and is in two new series, Starz’s Shining Vale and HBO’s Julia. Light, who played Jonathan Larson’s (Andrew Garfield) agent in the 2021 feature Tick, Tick … Boom!spoke with THR about how she learned about fashion and why comfort is overrated on the red carpet.
How would you describe your red carpet style?
I would say there’s a kind of grace, elegance and class that I try to go for. I put on something and I know that it feels right.
What qualities are important to you in clothes you wear for events?
Great tailoring is essential. I learned that from [costume designer] Pat Field when we were doing Ugly Betty. And I don’t always have to be comfortable. A lot of people say, “Well, just wear what makes you comfortable.” I think sometimes it’s really valuable to take risks. And, you know, some of the specialized undergarments we wear to make the outfit work, sometimes they aren’t comfortable. I’m like, “So what?”
Do you mind when people ask you, “Who are you wearing?”
I’m always happy to say the name of the person. I also remember that my mother was a womenswear buyer. When somebody has worked so hard to make something that you put on, you have to acknowledge the artistry of it. If I just stand there like a lump, you are never going to see the beauty of what has been created. Otherwise, why do this? We can just stay in our pajamas, for God’s sake.
Has it been a conscious decision recently to alternate between white and black looks?
No. I do like cream and white, personally. There’s a kind of simplicity and warmth and openness and lightness about [those colors]. Years ago, when we were all getting our colors done, they told me I look good in cream. I was also told not to wear black, and I wear black all the time. I think there’s a New York chic style about it.
How did you get into fashion?
I used to buy a lot of gold lamé — and I truly embrace that time in my life when I was doing that. I looked ridiculous, but I was trying for something. I needed to be educated about style and clothing and what works. I don’t come by it really naturally. I learned some from my mother. I learned a lot from [publicist] Jack Yeaton, who was at Rogers & Cowan. He started helping me dress. I also learned about style from Patricia Black at the amazing Albright Fashion Library [in New York], where you can go and rent clothes for events. Michael Kors and Zac Posen were really instrumental, too. There were all these people along the way.
What is the last book you read?
I’m reading two books right now. One is [trans actress and activist] Alexandra Billings’ memoir, This Time for Meand the other is R. Eric Thomas’ book of essays, Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America. And quite frankly, I just finished reading my husband’s [Robert Desiderio] second novel, and he hasn’t landed on a title yet.
What are your favorite New York restaurants?
The answer is that I don’t know right now. So many places have closed, and it really makes me sad. I’m concerned about what’s happening to the economy of the city. I’m concerned about the workers. I will say that working here and being able to do television and film here in New York is so heartening. We shot Tick, Tick … Boom! here. And I saw how it can bring so much lifeblood and monetary compensation for so many people who were affected by the shutdown and could actually get back to work. New York is the home of my heart.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.