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How The Gilded Age’s Denée Benton Made Sure Peggy Scott’s Story Was Told Right

That’s so cool. She’s an icon, no doubt.

Christine [Baranski], Cynthia [Nixon], Carrie [Coon], Kelli [O’Hara]—they were all so generous with their wisdom and knowledge. And they’re also fun and goofy. They really made this show come down from our ears. And Jeanne Tripplehorn. Everyone. They were so generous in their spirits.

I can’t help but think how ironic it is that Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald star together in The Good Fight, and then Christine and Meryl Streep played best friends in Mamma Mia!, and now Meryl’s daughter, Louisa Jacobson, plays Christine’s niece in The Gilded Age. 

Definitely does feel like kismet a little. Christine and Cynthia [Nixon] apparently worked together when Cynthia was in college and Christine was pregnant with her first child. It’s really special in that way. Christine is the most benevolent matriarch of the set, and I got to hear her humming sometimes between setups. It’s all so priceless that I feel like I’m sure I’ll tell my grandkids about it.

What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as an actor?

There’s a maturity now where I’m like, “I want to be well in the midst of all of the success, and I’m not really willing to compromise my wellbeing.” Speaking to being well, I found out that I got the role of Peggy around the time I had to take a week off from Hamilton. I was really sick, and I’m such a recovering perfectionist. And then I got the call that I got this role. It felt like a [sign] from the universe that you can take care of yourself and blessings will still come to you. It’s not about working yourself into the ground. I think Oprah calls them God winks, like, “Yeah, you’re on the right track. Stay in this type of mindset because you’re not going to lose any opportunities by not treating yourself like a work horse.”

Was there either a TV show or a movie that you were obsessed with growing up, or one that had a big impact on you?

Brandy and Whitney in Cinderella. [Laughs] You can see how I got the whole, “I want to play aristocratic women. If Whitney did it, I can do it.”

Is there a TV show or movie that you’ve seen recently that inspires you?  

I really loved I May Destroy You. I really loved The Forty-Year-Old Version, and I really loved this documentary I just watched on HBO called Eyes On The Prize: Hallowed Ground, which is a look at what a Black liberation movement looks like now in the 21st century. It is so inspiring. So many of my activist superheroes were profiled in it, and I loved it.

That is great to know. Meanwhile, when you’re on set, do you have any superstitions that you can’t let go of when you’re filming?

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