Dana Delany: What I Know Now

The Emmy-winning 'China Beach' actress, 60, on staying single, the secret to her svelte physique and why she's signed on to Twitter

By Dana Delany / October/November 2016
Dana Delany loves talking to strangers either through traveling alone or Twitter.
© Ari Michelson
To-do list
I recently found an envelope that I'd written on when I was 25 years old. It was a list that I titled "What I Want." I'd written: "To be a great actor (that one's questionable) ... to be a better singer ... to be happy alone ... to live life with curiosity and an open heart." I looked at the list and realized, "My God, I've gotten everything I wanted." So it's time to make a new list.

Single and strong
I came from the era where everyone was telling us, "Put your career first." [Getting married] was never something I really seriously considered. I've had a very full life, and I've dated very interesting people. I'm not ruling it out, but look at my list at 25. It wasn't a priority.

Go with the flow
I've been doing yoga almost every day for 30 years, and it definitely helps. I eat very healthy. I was pudgy as a kid, so I've always had to watch my weight. My friends who were skinny growing up have a harder time now. They really have to watch what they eat.

Reach out, and tweet someone
I love that you can meet people on Twitter whom you might never meet in life. But I've learned a few things. In the beginning, I was sort of like Ann Landers, helping people, giving advice. Then you realize maybe they're making things up, using it to get attention. So you have to use your instincts better.

Keeping the peace
There are two great things about getting older. One, you learn to end a relationship but remain friends. And you learn how to speak in a work environment so that everybody ends up happy. If you find out what everybody is going after, you'll always be fine.

Idol play
When I was a kid, my idol was Honey West [the detective played by Anne Francis in the 1960s TV series of the same name]. She got to wear catsuits, and had a gun, a sports car and a pet ocelot. She was so strong and glamorous at the same time. This season on Hand of God, I get to be a little bit Honey West. I wear these great, tight black outfits and run around sleuthing.

The world is her oyster
Travel is my passion. I travel alone, which forces you to talk to strangers. I love being out of my comfort zone. One of my favorite things is not sticking to a schedule. I'll sleep in my hotel until 4 a.m., then go take a walk.

Lesson from Mom
My mother was an interior designer and got her greatest happiness from working. The biggest frustration for her as she got older was the work dropping off. That was a cautionary tale for me. You need to experience life outside of your work and enjoy it.