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Felicity Huffman returns to acting after the college admissions scandal that landed her in jail: ‘It’s sort of like your old life died and you died with it’

Almost five years after pleading guilty and spending 11 days in prison, the ‘Desperate Housewives’ actress is starring in a play in London and has opened up about her personal situation: ‘I guess I’m still processing it’

Felicity Huffman
Actress Felicity Huffman at the A New Way Of Life Charity Gala held in December in Los Angeles, California.Leon Bennett (Getty Images)
María Porcel

Five years have passed since the college admissions scandal hit the front pages and dragged down Felicity Huffman, who was tried and convicted of fraud after paying $15,000 to improve her daughter’s SAT scores in an attempt to get her into the university of her choice. Now, the actress is beginning to look for her personal and professional redemption. Neither one is being easy, as she herself had anticipated. Famous for her role as one of the Desperate Housewives in the popular TV series and nominated for an Oscar for her role as a transsexual woman in the 2005 Transamerica is trying to get back her life and her career, and also the respect of the public. Little by little, she is talking about it.

Huffman, 61, has given an interview to the British newspaper The Guardian on the occasion of her return to work. Between February 15 and March 16, viewers will be able to see her live on the stage of the Park Theater in London, where she will play one of the main characters in a revival of Taylor Mac’s play Hir. Making her debut on the British stage, Huffman will play Paige, the mother of a troubled family: abused by her husband, who has suffered a stroke, her eldest son has just returned from fighting in Afghanistan and her youngest son Max has stopped being her daughter Maxine and is beginning to open up about her transsexuality. It is an intense role to return to the stage. “Her personal troubles are all about how afraid she was and how much she loved her child. And that’s exactly what Paige is going through,” Mac told the British newspaper.

When the interviewer asks how she is doing, Huffman responds: “I’m grateful to be here. But how am I? I guess I’m still processing.” Asked how she feels about the scandal of the case that affected her five years ago, in which she pleaded guilty and for which she spent 11 days in jail, in addition to 250 hours of community service, one year of probation and a $30,000 fine, she replies: “As long as my kids are well and my husband is well, I feel like I’m well.”

Felicity Huffman leaves the Boston courthouse with her husband, William H. Macy, after being sentenced to 14 days in jail for the college admissions fraud scheme in September 2019.
Felicity Huffman leaves the Boston courthouse with her husband, William H. Macy, after being sentenced to 14 days in jail for the college admissions fraud scheme in September 2019.MediaNews Group/Boston Herald vi (via Getty Images)

Huffman has been together with fellow actor William H. Macy, who was never charged, since the early 1980s. They were married in 1997 and have two daughters, Sophia, 23, and Georgia, 21. In March 2019, a scheme was uncovered in which more than 50 parents, including major entrepreneurs and figures from the world of entertainment such as Full House actress Lori Loughlin paid an intermediary — Rick Singer, who earned more than $25 million and who in January 2023 was sentenced to three years and half behind bars — so that he could falsify his children’s academic records, fix exam scores or get them enrolled as athletes in some of the nation’s most elite universities. Huffman confessed to her involvement and said her daughter Sophia did not know that her mother had tampered with her SAT scores. She sat the exam again, achieved the necessary grades, and now studies theater at Carnegie Mellon University.

In the interview, the actress acknowledges that her life has never been the same since the so-called Varsity Blues scandal. She has barely worked, other than in an episode of the series The Good Doctor last year and in a podcast a few months ago. “I did a pilot for ABC recently that didn’t get picked up. It’s been hard. Sort of like your old life died and you died with it. I’m lucky enough to have a family and love and means, so I had a place to land.”

Huffman also discusses her role as a transsexual woman in Transamerica. “I think we should reflect the audience and that’s got to include everybody. There has been such inequity for so long and now the pendulum must swing the other way. But I hope it leads to a situation where anyone can play anything.”

Until now Huffman had only spoken about the matter once. It was in a television interview with ABC7 last December, where rather than discuss how she felt, she listed the reasons for joining the scheme. “It felt like I had to give my daughter a chance at a future. And so it was sort of like my daughter’s future, which meant I had to break the law.”

When the FBI entered her house at gunpoint in the early hours of the morning and asked her to come with them, she thought it was a joke. In the interview, Huffman acknowledged that she owed an apology to the academic community “and to the students and the families that sacrifice and work really hard to get to where they are going legitimately.” These days she is collaborating with an association called A New Way of Life, which helps women who have been in prison reintegrate into society.

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