10 Questions for Julia Roberts and Hillary Clinton

What do Julia Roberts and Hillary Clinton have in common? Cooking fuel, motherhood and, yep, that wedding

  • Courtesy State Department

    Julia Roberts and Hillary Clinton

    TIME: A Secretary of State and a superstar are kind of an unlikely couple. What brought you two together?
    [Laughing.] Well, I started out as a great fan of [Julia's] before I ever knew her. I have gotten to know her over the years and now am an even greater fan. And she did this fabulous special, Extraordinary Moms, which I guess is going to be on television around Mother's Day, right?

    JR: Yes, May 7.

    HC: So we got to spend some time together on that, and when she was here, I was deep in work to establish the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. She became so interested that we spent a lot of time talking about it. I'm very happy Julia is going to become our global ambassador for the Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

    Cookstoves seem like a very small nail for you two very big hammers. Why this issue, Julia?
    It's not small at all, actually. It speaks to so many issues about mothers and women around the world who are trying to care for their families and the toxins that they're exposed to while cooking for their families. Something that's such a joy in my life every day — cooking — is this incredible, horrific danger to women around the world.

    The problem is in how they cook?
    Everybody has had a meal that is cooked — some of them very meager, some of them very elaborate. But nearly 2 million people around the world, mostly women and children, die each year from this activity we all take for granted, because they are breathing the fumes and the smoke from using solid fuels, such as wood or dung or crop residues. That's almost as many people as die each year from malaria and tuberculosis combined. And we then see the impact on all the rest of us, because about one-fifth of the world's black-carbon emissions come from cookstoves. We aim to have cookstoves that are affordable and more efficient in a hundred million homes within the next several years.

    You're both successful working moms. Do you have advice for other working moms?
    Madame Secretary said a great thing when I was talking to her about being a working mom: You just have to let some things go. You slowly and gently reprioritize your life and your day and where your attentions go. It was such a relief to hear someone who has accomplished so much and raised this beautiful daughter say, Just relax about it.

    Did reprioritizing involve watching the royal wedding?
    I sat with [daughter] Hazel in my lap. It was very exciting.

    HC: Oh, it did for me. I was on e-mail with my daughter, and my 92-year-old mother lives with us, so the three generations of women in my family were watching the royal wedding. Put a big smile on my face. I deal with so many very hard, difficult, painful decisions about what's going on around the world every day, I just relished the happiness of these two young people.

    Hillary, did Julia tell you that one of her first acting roles was playing Liddy Dole?
    [Laughs.] Well, Liddy Dole is a friend of mine. I have not seen [Julia] in that role, however.

    JR: It was part of a political experiment in my school, so it wasn't really acting. It was politics.