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Actress Christina Hendricks, named the sexiest woman alive by Esquire magazine, is known for playing Joan Holloway on the TV series Mad Men.
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"I don't think I'd have as thick a skin as an actress if I hadn't done the modeling," she said. "Because you get rejected seven times a day as a model and you're not even doing anything. That can either kill you in a month or, you know, build up a tolerance in you, and I think it helped me." After two years modeling in New York, Hendricks moved to London,
where she also spent a year modeling. "I was there for the perfect time — 1996. It was huge for fashion and music and there was so much energy. It was Britpop-crazy and I'm the biggest Britpop fan."
Hendricks left London at the end of the year and moved with her mother to Los Angeles to attempt to make the transition from model to actress. Two years later, in 1999, she landed her first acting roles: a small part in a TV movie called Sorority and a recurring role in the TV series Undressed. Still, it took Hendricks an entire decade in Hollywood to land anything more than small bit parts on television shows. Her most prominent acting credits during this period were recurring stints on Beggars and Choosers (2000-2001), ER (2002), Kevin Hill (2004-2005) and Life (2007-2008).
Hendricks' big break came in 2009, when she was cast in Mad Men, an AMC series created by Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner. Set in New York City in the early 1960s, Mad Men revolves around the employees of Sterling Cooper, a fictional advertising agency on Madison ("Mad") Avenue. Hendricks portrays Joan Holloway, the agency's sexy, sassy office manager, who simultaneously stands up to and mesmerizes the show's dominant male characters. Initially imagined as only a temporary role, Joan quickly evolved into one of the show's most iconic characters, propelling Hendricks virtually overnight into the national spotlight. "Joan's this wonderful combination that people have responded to," Hendricks says. "I think that in this world of men, in this boys' club, she gives a sense of levity to the workplace, and sexuality, and she's a little brassy. She's just so much fun to play. I love her." Mad Men, which recently completed its fourth season on AMC, has won numerous Golden Globe and Emmy Awards, and Hendricks received a 2010 Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
The show even had an effect on her romantic life: Co-star Vincent Kartheiser (who plays Pete Campbell) introduced her to actor Geoffrey Arend, whom she married in 2009.
Hendricks has gained celebrity not only for her stirring performance on Mad Men, but also for her voluptuous body — at once a timeless vision of feminine beauty and a rarity in a modern Hollywood overpopulated with stick-thin actresses. She says, "I've had people come up to me and say, 'You've made me feel proud about my curves,' or, 'It's so refreshing to see body types [like yours].'" In 2010, Esquire magazine named Hendricks the sexiest woman alive. Asked about her own perceptions of her body, Hendricks responded, "I feel sexy and I feel like a woman and I feel happy, and I don't feel like I'm constantly depriving myself or beating myself up and I still feel beautiful… But at the same time," she added. "I'm a woman and do I want to lose 10 pounds? Absolutely, like everyone does. So I can't say: I've mastered that, I've gotten beyond that."
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