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Inside Jennifer Coolidge’s ‘Life-Changing’ Success and Overdue Recognition From ‘The White Lotus’: It’s ‘Made Things Different’ (Exclusive)

It’s about damn time! Jennifer Coolidge‘s Hollywood career transformed “in the blink of an eye” as The White Lotus launched her to “superstar” success — and she’s still adjusting.

Related: Jennifer Coolidge Through the Years: 'The White Lotus' and Beyond

“She’s still the same person she always was but the fame and recognition has made things different,” a source exclusively reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly, adding that the Legally Blonde actress, 61, is “living way more comfortably now” thanks to her breakout HBO role. “She’s got a lot more opportunities coming her way and her days are way busier than they used to be.”

Coolidge has received continued praise for her performance as Tanya McQuoid on the Mike White-penned anthology series, which premiered in July 2021. She was the only season 1 cast member to return for the sophomore installment set in Italy. Coolidge has racked up multiple trophies for her star turn, including the 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie and the 2023 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.

Inside Jennifer Coolidge's 'Life-Changing' Success and Overdue Recognition
Jennifer Coolidge. Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

According to the insider, the show’s success “has been a huge blessing” for the American Pie star, who wanted to “challenge herself” with the more dramatic role. “The fact it’s been so well-received and celebrated has been life-changing,” the source tells Us. “For her, it’s like all the hard work paid off and then some. She’s still pinching herself that it’s actually happening.”

The Massachusetts native has been a beloved character actress for decades, appearing in cult comedies Best in Show (2000) and For Your Consideration (2006) and nabbing guest roles on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and 2 Broke Girls. Before joining The White Lotus cast, Coolidge starred opposite Carey Mulligan in the Oscar-winning drama Promising Young Woman.

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“Jennifer was ambitious from an early age,” the source tells Us, pointing out that Coolidge’s “phenomenal talent” was always celebrated by her fellow entertainers. “She always wanted to be a serious actress and was prepared to put in the hard [work] and wait for her opportunity to come.”

Earlier this year, Coolidge earned a standing ovation from her peers while accepting her Golden Globes win. “I had such big dreams and expectations as a younger person, but what happened is they get sort of fizzled by life. I thought I was going to be queen of Monaco even though someone else did it,” she said at the January ceremony. “And then you get older and think, ‘Oh, what the f–k is going to happen?’ And Mike White, you have given me hope. You’ve given me a new beginning. … You changed my life in a million different ways.”

The Single All the Way star continued: “If you don’t know Mike White, this is what you should know: He is worried about the world, he’s worried about people, he’s worried about friends of his that aren’t doing well. He’s worried about animals. … You make people want to live longer — and I didn’t. Mike, I love you to death.”

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While Coolidge is thriving in her career, her love life has yet to take off in the same way. “Her friends would love to see her settle down and meet a nice guy,” the source tells Us, adding that the A Cinderella Story star is “totally open” to finding The One.

For now, the SAG Award nominee is focusing on her next career move — which might include the highly anticipated third Legally Blonde movie. “Reese [Witherspoon] adores her. They’re determined to get Legally Blonde 3 off the ground and they see each other plenty and have become good friends,” the insider says. “She’s very much at peace and so excited about this next chapter.”

For more on Coolidge’s career success, watch the video above and pick up the latest issue of Us Weekly — on newsstands now.

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