If you try to define Lorraine Toussaint by the many roles she has played throughout her career—including the vicious Vee Parker in Orange Is the New Black or the doting and big-hearted Donna, the mother of Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr., on the new Fox series Rosewood—you can see how good she is at her job. She brings passion and purpose to every character she portrays because she understands the brevity of each moment and is grateful just to be present. Her credo is to celebrate what’s lovely every single day. When she isn’t working, she maintains her website, everydaylovelybylorraine, where she shares her positive views on life.
“We deserve to have every one of our days on this planet to be in some way, shape or form lovely,” she says. “And ‘lovely’ for me means authentic, real, transparent…and present.”
HOW DO YOU LIVE HAPPY?
Happy isn’t something that happens to me, it is a quality that I choose. Even if I am frustrated or challenged in the moment or going through a rough spot, it is one of my core qualities. So I am always aware that I am happy. I am happy to wake up; I am happy to breathe; I am happy to stand up in the morning. There are so many reasons why I am happy, but mostly I am happy because I choose to be happy.
WHO HAS TAUGHT YOU THE MOST ABOUT HAPPINESS?
The people in my life who have chosen to live unhappy lives. I watched the price they paid for unhappy living; it was active and it was a choice. Oh, good lord. Given the option I am going to choose happiness every single time. It’s a no brainer. So those really darkly depressed, complaining, ego-driven, narcissistic individuals in my life have really been my gurus. I am so not going down that road.
WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU LAUGHED OUT LOUD?
This morning. I laugh out loud at myself all of the time. I laugh at my thoughts. I love the feeling and the sound of my laughter. I love trying to squeeze the life, the love and the joy out of my laughter.
WHAT IS YOUR “GO TO” BOOK, MOVIE OR TV SHOW TO LIFT YOUR MOOD?
I’m a real Scandal watcher, but I don’t watch very much television. I find a really good book on tape is a nice companion sometimes. If I need a laugh, I will tune into the comedy channel, just for the purpose of laughing. Mostly I like silence. I never have anything on in the background. I like hearing my thoughts.
WHAT IS THE KINDEST ACT SOMEONE HAS EVER DONE FOR YOU?
A very important woman in my life told me to trust myself above all others. Because you know yourself better than anyone. I remember the breath I took then, and it was such a lovely moment. I have seen so many acts of kindness. I went to Juilliard, which changed my life.…I have been broke as all get out, to the point where I had a friend sign a rental lease for me as collateral. I have had such kindness in my life.
HOW DO YOU MAKE OTHERS CLOSE TO YOU HAPPY?
I see them. I see the people in my life. I listen to them. There is nothing like being seen and feeling heard…and I make them tea. Many people come to my home and expect to be loved on. My doors are always open and I love on them. I like serving my friends and the ones I love. I create an environment where they can breathe deeply. That is what this home is meant to be. If you walk into a room I want you to know that I see you. That is a gift.
WHERE IS YOUR HAPPY PLACE?
The ocean. Anywhere there is water and being with my daughter is my happy place. My truly happy place is by the sea. I try not to be very far from the sea for very long.
Chris Libby is the section editor at Live Happy magazine.