I've always been drawn to New Orleans," says Sela Ward. "I feel like I lived there in another lifetime or something." A true Southern belle, Ward is the daughter of an electrical engineer and a homemaker from Meridian, Mississippi. For as long as she can remember, the family made the three-hour drive from puritanical Meridian to visit relatives in the bustling Louisiana port. In fact, New Orleans has been central to almost every epoch of Ward's experience, from childhood escapades in the French Quarter to football games at the Sugar Bowl (where she reigned as a University of Alabama cheerleader and homecoming queen), to weekend getaways from modeling in New York and early TV and film roles. Today, Ward spends most of her time in L.A., starring as Lily Manning in ABC's hit series Once and Again. This year, Ward received her second Emmy nod for Best Actress in a Drama. But her biggest reward is returning to New Orleans, where, she says, "the texture of life there is so rich. I mean, New Orleans has such a deep, deep soul." Here's a soulful weekend with Sela Ward in New Orleans.
"I love the Soniat House because the rooms are furnished with antiques and you really feel like you're in New Orleans. It's an old Quarter house, so you get the feeling of what it would have been like to really live there. They have an outdoor patio and an honor bar. Now, with the kids, we stay at the Windsor Court. They have a great Sunday brunch, and I love their afternoon tea. It's really well-located. You're not smack dab in the middle of the Quarter, but you're right on the edge. Windsor Court is great, but it's a little more homog-enized, in that you're not going to get the real flavor of staying at a place in the Quarter, like Hotel Maison de Ville and the Audubon Cottages, which are charming. They're tucked away in little courtyards."