More: You noted that you once battled anorexia and bulimia. How did you find a healthy place with food and your body?
MC: A lot of the work I was getting was stand-up comedy. That has little to do with how thin I am. When I did 30 Rock I had to wear a fat suit. While some actresses might feel they might not get work if they don’t weigh a certain amount, I never had that pressure after my first experience with television. But back when I was doing my own TV show, in 1994, they wanted me to lose a lot of weight, and that is where the whole cycle began.
More: Which was?
MC: I was terrified, thinking I had to be thin to get the work. But it was then that I really started to embrace my love for stand-up comedy, and after that it became a non-issue: I no longer had to worry about what I was eating. Male comics don’t think about their weight—why should we?
More: You recently shed a lot of weight, which you have attributed to your time on Dancing with the Stars and your love of belly dancing.
MC: Yes. I love belly dancing. It is great for exercise and it glorifies a woman’s body. When I was in Cairo, I saw women who were in their eighties belly dancing and still feeling sexy. It was so great to see. They were wearing really beautiful costumes and dancing in a very seductive manner. It was beautiful to watch, especially because of how age was really valued there.
More: Did being there teach you anything?
MC: It taught me to respect a woman’s body in a way that is so different, organic and true.
More: You referenced your time on 30 Rock, which I must add just scored you a Primetime Emmy for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for your role as Kim Jong Il. [The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards show will be aired September 23 on ABC.]
MC: Yes, thank you. I am so excited about that, especially because of how much I love the show and Tina Fey. She is a genius and a true friend. I am so grateful I was able to do that.
More: What does getting an Emmy nod mean to you?
MC: I think it has an exciting feeling. You are being honored for doing something you love. I would do this for free because I love it so much. It is such a nice acknowledgement.
More: Aside from your on-camera work, you are also a huge advocate for the gay/lesbian community. What prompted you to get so involved?
MC: During my early years as a comic, in the ’80s and ’90s, I did a lot of fundraising for AIDS. I am also bisexual. For me it is so important to be connected to this world. Because of my role in the comedy world I have been able to work with many of these wonderful organizations and build a great relationship with them.
More: You mention being bisexual, yet you are married and have been for some time [to husband Al Ridenour]. Was marrying a man a hard decision to make?
MC: No, I don’t think so. I think it was the right thing for me. I feel that marriage is really important and gay marriage is the prime example of equality. Now that I am a member of that family [with Ridenour], I view family as so important, and sexuality should not have anything to do with that. No one should tell you who your family should be.