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Byron Cohen/NBC

On her hit show, Monica Potter explores the challenges of Parenthood.

Monica Potter knows from parenting. The married mother of three isn’t new to the demands of managing a household, so playing Kristina Braverman, the harried mother of an attitudinal teenage daughter and a preteen son with Asperger’s syndrome, on NBC’s Parenthood is familiar territory — to a point. “She needs to get a grip,” Potter says with a laugh about her more high-strung alter ego. “She’s trying desperately to be the best mom she can be, but she needs to let go a little bit.” While her character works toward a more even-keeled existence, Potter talked to American Way about the show and her other talents.

On researching her role:
“I have friends who have kids that are severely autistic. Most of the parents have the best sense of humor — it’s how they deal. I definitely took that with me. Viewers are so happy that there’s a show that touches on the subject of Asperger’s.”

On filming Parenthood:
“We’ll be talking and the director will be rolling, and we’ll just have our own conversation and go right into the scene. Sometimes, some of the best stuff we find is by mistake, and you see it on the air.”

On the challenges of daytime TV:
“I was on The Young and the Restless for about a minute, and then we were pre-empted by the O.J. Simpson trial. It was an experience, that’s for sure. Those people have a gift where they can just look at something, remember it, and do it.”

On her other pursuits:
“I love decorating, and I would love to make products for people who can’t afford to spend a lot of money but who take pride in their home. We didn’t have much money [when I was growing up], but my mom always made sure things were in order. I’m starting to shop my line around.”