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Janine Turner’s ‘The Pivot Principle’: Finding Strength in Adversity

During the late 1980s, Janine Turner’s acting career was at a crossroads. After spending twelve years in New York City as a model for the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency, she found herself typecast in roles that primarily involved wearing bikinis and playing the damsel in distress on shows such as ‘The A Team’ and ‘Knight Rider.’ Turner expressed her desire for more substantial and challenging roles, as well as greater profitability.

“ I had $8 left before ‘Northern Exposure,’” said Turner, referencing the popular CBS comedy-drama that launched her to stardom in 1990. “An agent wouldn’t even represent me.”

Feeling disheartened and nearly broke, Turner turned to her faith for guidance, telling herself, “OK, God, $8 left, I tried to come to New York City, whatever. What do you want me to do?” In response, she felt a strong inner message urging her, “Don’t let anybody put out your flame.”

Despite these setbacks, Turner’s portrayal of Maggie O’Connell on “Northern Exposure” garnered her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and paved the way for roles in films alongside Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere. Now, she has released a motivational book entitled “The Pivot Principle: Finding Joy in Despair” and is preparing for the Broadway debut of a musical that she has written, composed the lyrics for, and will star in. The musical, “Just Call Me Belva!”, shines a light on the challenges and determination of Belva Ann Lockwood, one of the first female attorneys in America.

“It’s telling a story of going through a deep crisis of humility, a deep crisis [in which] I realized that humility is a virtue to me,” said Turner. “And that is through humility, that true genius is really generated, and how to become enlightened, to become aware, to live out my purpose.”

Despite her success, Turner acknowledges the downsides of modern social media culture, stating, “We’re sort of in a social media society today, where everyone has to put this wonderful face forward, and it’s not really genuine, and it doesn’t represent life. I think it’s causing a lot of confusion.”

Reflecting on recent challenges such as her daughter’s departure for college and law school, as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Turner explained, “It was a rough go for me. I had to figure out how am I going to deconstruct or reconstruct — what’s the choice here? Just like any other challenge I’ve had in my life, I always just reach up, you know, for the higher inspiration, for the stair step of enlightenment.”

Recognizing her interest in Belva Ann Lockwood, whom she previously featured in her 2008 book, “Holding Her Head High: Inspiration from 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History,” Turner described a common bond as single mothers. Lockwood encountered numerous obstacles in her path to becoming a lawyer, battling sexism to acquire her legal education and fighting for legislation to allow women to be admitted to the Supreme Court’s bar.

During the pandemic, Turner penned the book and lyrics for “Just Call Me Belva!” and enlisted a composer to set her words to music, with the goal of bringing the show to Broadway. Turner, who owns a longhorn cattle ranch near Dallas, emphasized, “I’m 60, so I can go sit at the ranch and knit, or I can just go for it. I mean, it’s on my bucket list to dance and sing on Broadway. I know Belva wants it to happen, so I have no doubt.”

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