It’s not uncommon for many child stars to self destruct.
But not Alyssa Milano, who gained early fame as Tony Danza’s daughter on Who’s the Boss? As a featured speaker at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show, Milano charmed the crowd along with others including Arthur Frommer, Adam Richman, and Henry Rollins.
While many celebrities take their vacations in luxurious resorts and don’t think beyond downing margaritas and a daily swim, Milano lives by the beat of her own drum. As a UNICEF National Ambassador, the Mistresses star and host of Project Runway: All Stars travels to far away lands to work hands-on with underprivileged kids and raise money for awareness. She’s never been to Paris or even Italy, her family homeland. “I’ll get to those places some time. It’s not been a priority.”
In describing her 2004 trip to Angola, she says, “It’s a sensory experience. The smell, the heat, and the bugs. It’s not for everyone; it’s all very foreign.
“The city was built for one million, but 11 million live there. If you can imagine kids playing in the park on a summer’s day with laughter (just like kids anywhere), it was different because it was so close to land mines. It’s crazy. Bullet holes everywhere, all over buildings including my hotel.”
Like acting, she’s been traveling since childhood. “I got the road tour of Annie at seven. We went all over the U.S. and I had never been outside of New York.”
After the difficult, but rewarding UNICEF trips, it takes time to readjust to her regular life. “I live in Beverly Hills and drive a very nice car. I feel guilty.”
Kosovo was her second mission and by then, Twitter had become a way to spread the word and she documented her trip. The humanitarian learned about a group of women from the same community who left their husbands in the middle of the night and took their children to raise all of them together.
By the time she got to India, there was an improvement in travel. “I actually stayed at a Hyatt because of the class structure in India. After working with hardships during the day, we had a chance to go back to our hotel and unwind.”
She adds, “The things I take away from all this is that we are all the same. It doesn’t matter where you come from; what religion you are. Everyone is looking for their happiness and health. I’ve never seen such spirit from the kids.”
Career and motherhood has recently taken up most of her time. “I will get back into travel, but I won’t take my child. It’s too dangerous.”
She told L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison, “There are a lot of self-centered people in this town. I no longer speak with the friends who don’t ‘get’ it.”
Sue Facter covers the glitz and the glam of the entertainment, travel, and beauty industries, but also the worthwhile endeavors of the celebrated and sometimes, not so celebrated. Her work appears in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and Women’s Day Australia.