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She's No Pretender in Discipline Area


The Miss Parkers have one thing in common, besides sharing surnames--Andrea Parker plays the imperturbable Miss Parker on NBC's "The Pretender"--a penchant for discipline. Ms. Parker uses her hourlong commute at 4:30 a.m. to do vocal and breathing exercises to keep Miss Parker's voice deep so she sounds a bit more malevolent.

"She is the antithesis of my personality," Ms. Parker said laughingly about her sang-froid character on the Saturday night suspense series. Case in point--Ms. Parker loves talking baby talk with her 8-year-old cat, Kitten.

"I have a very silly cat voice that I do so he knows when I'm speaking especially to him, you know?"

Miss Parker wouldn't know, but I would.

Question: That's how I get with my kitty, Poco. That's my little sugar bit.

Answer: Poco. Oh, I love it. I call mine Sugar Lickin' and Chicken Soup.

Q: What's this about you taking up stunt driving for this role?

A: My character's very much in control so she's always doing the driving--pulling up to an abrupt stop or peeling out, just little baby things, but if I'm comfortable doing a reverse 180, pulling up to an abrupt stop, then it's going to be a walk in the park. So, I get out every couple months for an intense weekend. I love the smell of burnin' rubber, baby. It's the most intense adrenaline rush I've ever experienced.

Q: Your day starts so early. When do you work in exercise?

A: I get up at 4 o'clock to be on the set at 5:30 or 6:30, so I try to be 10 or 15 minutes early so I can stretch out. And some days I'll do an intense cardiovascular workout and, other days, leg lifts, a few sit-ups and some stretches will be fine. I was trained classically many years and actually danced professionally for a few years with the San Francisco Ballet. I know all of the exercises and workout practices that work best for me.

Q: The cardiovascular you do at home?

A: Oh, my goodness, I go crazy over here. I can be exhausted and panting and wanting to give up, and if the right song comes on, I turn into an animal. I mean, Jennifer Beals, move over, 'cause I am a dance machine. I'm a long drinka water, baby, so look out.

Q: Do you eat or drink anything from the time you're up until you leave the house at 4:30 every morning?

A: I definitely need a big dose of caffeine. I'm a tea drinker, though. Then I'll have vanilla yogurt with granola or Grape-Nuts and some banana. To be honest, there are other days when I show up on the set and I want the teamster breakfast--well-done French toast and crispy bacon, but I won't eat the whole plate. If I'm going to be bad, I'll eat only as much as I need to satisfy myself. And then I nibble throughout the whole day.

Q: On what?

A: I make sure and eat a lot of organic fruits, vegetables, protein and as much water as I can get down in a day. I have to force it down my throat, but the results are amazing [for] your skin and clarity of thoughts. I do have a protein shake every day with peaches, mangoes or papaya--nothing acidic, no orange juice. Strawberries are about the only fruit that you'd want to put in there that has a seed in it. You don't want to put in boysenberries or raspberries or you'll be spitting with every sip and that's very unattractive.

Q: Especially with the camera in your face.

A: Exactly. Yeah, that looks good in the close-up. And I throw in protein powder and a scoopful of lecithin. I drink one of those between breakfast and lunch when I'm working. Lunch, I eat light so I won't feel the need to take a nap afterward. I eat a lot of greens--salad or vegetables and, God, I have a passion for potatoes, or maybe some pasta. I'm not real picky as long as there's some vegetables or salad, rice and beans. Then between lunch and dinner I need a little pick-me-up because there's an hour there where I start to crash so I'll go for a cut-up apple and I'll dip it in peanut butter.

Q: What do you do about dinner?

A: I live for dinner, and I like a lot of it just because I've eaten like such a bird all day long. I don't know, there's something very freeing about having a big plate of food in front of you. I like chicken, turkey, fish, red meat, whatever, bring it on. And I don't just go to the market and pick out a chicken. I go to the health food store and pick out an organic chicken.

Q: What about veggies and greens?

A: I eat everything, but it has to be prepared just the right way for me to get it down. I love tomatoes, but if they're not blanched and don't have a little bit of salt on 'em, I want nothing to do with them. I despise peas, but I love split pea soup. Isn't that weird? One of the freedoms of being adults is making your choices and, damn it, I never have to eat peas again in my whole life if I don't want to and just maybe I won't. You know. But I make up for it. I love green beans, carrots, corn, all kinds of lettuce, and I love seaweed.

Q: What do you do for exercise when you're on hiatus, when you have more time to yourself?

A: My favorite is to swim in the ocean, find a little bay where there's not a lot of waves and I sprint-walk in waist-deep water. It feels good and you're cooled down because you're in the water. You wear a little hat so your face doesn't fry and, oh, my God, your ass just feels like the bionic woman's.

* Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.

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