Excerpt: 'Stars of David : Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish' by Abigail Pogrebin

One could say that, thanks to Carrie Bradshaw -- her character on Sex and the City -- she's created a new archetype. "I don't know that anything's changed," she disagrees. "I think I've had luck because I've found parts and obviously more recently, specifically a part. But Carrie Bradshaw is clearly not a Jew. So that character didn't disprove the bias that beauty is incompatible with ethnicity. I don't know if there's a ripple effect for me professionally or not. And I don't pay too much attention to it because, frankly, there was a period in my career years ago when it stopped mattering to me that a studio executive didn't think I was pretty. Because I couldn't let it. I hadn't started off with a career in which that mattered and I knew that that wasn't what my career was going to be."

Didn't she have a moment of wishing she was the classic American beauty? "Yes, I did have a moment. I remember pretty vividly -- because I actually articulated it at the time–I said, 'This is really frustrating because I'm always playing the cerebral best friend of the pretty girl.' Now, what I didn't mind about that was those were generally the more interesting parts. But it's frustrating to not be considered attractive by men who make decisions. That's what's hurtful. It's not the quality, necessarily, of the role; it's the personal ego stab that is hurtful. And you just figure out whether you have the constitution to continue. That's why I think my parents were very against me working in television and film. I think they thought that in the theater, beauty has broader parameters. My parents saw that it was when I got involved in movies that my feelings were hurt."

But did she view those slights as related to her being Jewish? "I saw it as an ethnicity issue," Parker replies. "I thought if I had straight hair and a perfect nose, my whole career would be different. And I still feel like, when I walk on the set of a movie or a television show, and my hair is straight and all the guys say to me, 'Wow, you look so pretty,' I always joke -- if I know them really well -- 'You're an anti-Semite!' Because I just feel it's a little stab at the Jews. I always feel that people think that straight hair is pretty and curly hair is unruly and Jewish. I think it's anti-ethnic."

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