Make that 40 candles

Molly Ringwald appears in ABC Family's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." She also sings jazz in L.A. sometimes, so go hear her.

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TV for young people has come a long way.

Yeah, well, you know, it's not all that different. The teenage pregnancy thing has been around for a while. I did a movie where I played a pregnant teen! Well, I was 17, rather than 15.

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Maybe we would have been different if we had sex education on TV like this.

I feel like I wasn't particularly repressed. But I don't know if my background -- obviously, my situation was different than a lot of other kids out there. But my parents were not totally liberal -- but fairly liberal. My mom tried to talk to me about stuff.

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Our parents were trying to get over their own upbringing.

Unfortunately a lot of times parents decide to broach the subject when it's too late. When they think in their own minds, "I want them to be this age when he or she starts having sex." I guess they should plan for a couple years before. Kids are really having sex young! And get over this ridiculous idea of abstinence.

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Are you prepared for this as a mother?

Well, my daughter is 5 -- so I think I have a couple years to sort of prepare. But we talk about everything. And I really hope that that can continue -- where she doesn't feel anything is off limits.

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How is 40?

Forty is fine! Forty is great. I'm writing a book about it, to be published by HarperCollins in fall '09. Really, I am! Not just about 40, but people who are of my generation, catching up and what that's like and how you have to reidentify yourself at that age in a culture that's pretty youth-driven. But it's fine actually! Leading up to 40 is much worse than being 40. The sort of tick-tock -- everything just seems so much weirder and scarier than it actually is.

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Are you doing all the heavy lifting yourself?

You mean the writing? Yes. I have to do all the writing myself.

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I still live like many adult people do -- like a 24-year-old. Is that sort of what happened to you?

No, not really. I have a different situation -- I'm married, I have a kid. But I've had a really interesting life thus far. Once you've been 40 you've been through a few car wrecks. And there's a lot of interesting stuff there to examine. But I'm not the age where I'd want to write an autobiography or anything. I'm sort of midway. I feel autobiographies should be written when you're old.

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Do you have big regrets? Do you regret having been on tour [with "Sweet Charity"] for so long or --

No, I don't regret. I don't see any point in regretting anything. I've had a really interesting life. I've done some great stuff. I don't see I should regret anything.

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You don't regret abandoning us for France?

No, I don't. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. I regret a little bit not staying longer! But you know I always just sort of go where my heart leads me and I felt it was time to come back to America.

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What is your eighth career as a jazz lady?

Well, I grew up with a jazz background; my dad is a jazz musician. And I just have always, always wanted to do that, just very casually sing jazz around town. And I met a great pianist in New York, and then he moved to L.A. Then when I moved here for the show, he was the first person I contacted. We've been gigging around town, and it's great. You have to do things that feed your soul.

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This is kind of groovy of you. Mommy's gotta go sing jazz!

I try to be a good example for my child. She loves music, and it's something we love to do together. I sing to her before she goes to sleep. She just learned to sing "Over the Rainbow."

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And your husband is bookish, so he doesn't come to L.A. as much?

He's actually getting his MBA at Stanford right now.

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That's a good thing to do in this economy.

It's very interesting. He's learning all kinds of things that I know nothing about.

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You two have a commonality in that you see something and you're like: I'll go do that.

Very much so. I think both of us are very driven when we decide we want something. I don't think I could ever go get my MBA at Stanford -- especially since he doesn't have a financial background, he's a writer and an editor.

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And when's your book due?

In March.

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The heat is on.

Yeah. Pretty much. In fact that's what I should be doing right now.

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