Although Selma Blair has flown under the radar for a few years, she re-emerged in the news following her October 2018 announcement that she’d been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (a condition that damages the brain, spinal cord, and other nerves). In the wake of her announcement she’s opened up and spoken publicly about her health struggles — and she’s been getting some much-deserved positive attention from the media as a result. From her feature article in Vanity Fair to her interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, the actress and mom is very much in the spotlight in 2019.

As we all know, though, no one just magically winds up in the Hollywood spotlight, with or without health challenges — it takes years of hard work, persistence, and determination to get there. Blair has been acting for a long time, and she’s undergone a stunning transformation since she first began her career.

She’s originally from Michigan

Born Selma Blair Beitner outside Detroit, Michigan, in 1972, Blair is the youngest of four girls. Her parents divorced when Selma was 23; after her parents split, she dropped Beitner as her last name and legally became Selma Blair. She went on to spend her freshman year of college at Kalamazoo College before transferring to the University of Michigan.

When it came to her post-collegiate life, she told Dark Horizons: “I wanted to be a ballerina, a horse trainer, and then I wanted to be a photographer. …I just never thought it was feasible for a girl from Michigan to ever make it to the stage or screen and tell a story.” After graduating with a double major in English and Psychology, she moved to New York City to pursue either acting or photography, noting that her mother “helped me pack my suitcase and I moved up to New York about a week” after she graduated, and she arrived not knowing “if it would be photography that hit or acting.” She started taking acting classes, and the rest is history.

1999 was her breakout year

Blair landed what would be her breakout role as Cecile Caldwell in 1999’s Cruel Intentions. The film, despite its mediocre reviews, wound up winning the 1999 Teen Choice Award — and Blair, whose role was opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Philippe, and Reese Witherspoon, won the 1999 MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Female Performance.

After Cruel Intentions, Blair was on her way. She was cast in the WB television series Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane in 1999, followed by another role alongside Witherspoon in 2001’s Legally Blonde. Cast as preppy Vivian Kensington, Blair’s star continued to rise in the wake of the film’s success. She starred in 2002’s raunchy comedy The Sweetest Thing alongside Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, later telling Entertainment Weekly that “I think I got my part by default because nobody wanted to go in and have [male genitalia stuck in their mouth]” during one of the movie’s funniest scenes. “I was like, ‘It’s Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, are you f—ing kidding me? …I really do think I was cast by default.” Nonetheless, the movie, and Blair’s role in it, wound up being hilarious!

She endured sexual harassment and assault

In 2017, Blair spoke out about assault and harassment by director James Toback, whom she’d met with at the start of her career. As Blair told Vanity Fair, in that 1999 incident, Toback told her to come to his hotel room after she arrived for a meeting that her representatives had arranged. After telling her, among other things, that he would be her mentor, he demanded that she prove her trust in him by taking off her clothes.

“I told him I was uncomfortable. But he continued to coax me — saying that this was in no way a come-on. This was part of training. He wanted to make me a good actress. He wanted to make me comfortable,” she explained. “I thought, ‘Well, my representation sent me to see him. He must be really important. …I do remember looking down at the script and seeing my bare chest and not being able to focus on anything but the words and my face being so hot and puffy and feeling so ashamed.” Toback then assaulted her, and he threatened to have her abducted and murdered if she told anyone what had happened.

She’s been in TV shows and independent films

Blair has largely preferred to star in independent films. While she did star in the 2003 rom-com A Guy Thing as Karen, and 2004’s Hellboy as Liz Sherman, a tortured woman with telekinetic powers, the bulk of her other film work has focused on playing complex, controversial, and occasionally dark roles in films like Kill Me Later (2001), Storytelling(2001), The Killing Gene (2007), Feast of Love (2007), and Columbus Circle (2012).

In a 2003 interview, Blair said that while her previous roles were “very much supporting and character driven, even if they are rather inconsequential roles… I don’t mind. I take every role very seriously.” Nonetheless, she also noted, “I have something in common with these roles that I am playing for studios. …I tend to play these tightly wound girls that kind of come undone and that is the comedy in them.”

In addition, Blair has dipped her feet into television acting. She starred opposite Molly Shannon on NBC’s Kath & Kim, which aired from 2008-2009, and later starred with Charlie Sheen on FX’s Anger Management.

She’s been married and divorced

Blair’s love life has also evolved considerably over the years. After dating fellow actor Jason Schwartzman in the early 2000s (during which time, it turns out, her Legally Blondecostar Matt Davis confessed that he had a “huge crush” on her while they were filming — oh, the missed opportunity!), she later married actor-musician Ahmed Zappa in 2004. Blair and Zappa, who got married only six months after they started dating, tied the knot in a ceremony hosted at late actress Carrie Fisher’s home in Coldwater Canyon, California. However, their union didn’t last, and the couple divorced in 2006.

After her split from Zappa, she dated Johnny Messner and, later, her Cath & Kim co-star Mikey Day. In 2010, she began dating fashion designer Jason Bleick, and the two welcomed a son, Arthur Saint Bleick, in 2011 before parting ways in 2012. She’s been linkedto David Price since 2018.

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