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Actress and Director Elisabeth Rohm Talks Staying Organized, Healthy and Her Riveting New True Crime Film (EXCLUSIVE)

The 'Law & Order' and 'Angel' actress has gone behind the camera for her intense new film

As an actress, director, producer, health advocate and philanthropist, Elisabeth Rohm has a packed to-do list. The most pressing item on that list? Getting ready for the June 23 premiere of her upcoming Lifetime film, Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story. The TV movie, which Rohm directed and produced, is part of the channel’s popular “Ripped From the Headlines” series, and tells the shocking true story of the cult at Sarah Lawrence College.

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Elisabeth Rohm behind the scenes of her new movie
Elisabeth Rohm behind the scenes of her new movie @elisabethrohm/Instagram

With more than 80 film and TV credits, Rohm’s rich body of work includes her roles as ADA Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order and Detective Kate Lockley on Angel. In recent years, she’s moved behind the camera, making her directorial debut with the Lifetime movie Girl in the Basement in 2021.

Rohm is also gearing up for the American Heart Association’s event honoring her with the Woman Changing the World Award. The American Heart Association is a deeply personal cause for the multitalented star, as her mom, aunt and grandma all passed away from heart disease in their 60s.

Given all of her charitable and creative endeavors, Elisabeth Rohm knows how important it is to find balance in a busy life. Here, the FIRST for Women covergirl (buy her issue here!) shares how she manages to do it all.

Elisabeth Rohm on the cover of 'FIRST for Women'
FIRST for Women

FIRST for Women: What is your involvement with the American Heart Association?

Elisabeth Rohm: My mom passed away from a heart attack about 14 years ago and I have worked with them ever since. For her memory and on behalf of advocating for women’s heart health, I’m still working with them.

It’s been my collective family for the past 14 years. This Women Changing the World Award is a little bit of recognition in my pursuit to not give up on the shared values I have with AHA.

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Elisabeth Rohm walks the runway for The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection in 2019
Elisabeth Rohm walks the runway at an American Heart Association event in 2019Getty

FFW: How did your mom inspire you?

Elisabeth Rohm: My mother was into the benefits of yoga and healthy eating. I was raised by a woman who taught me I needed to think about others. She encouraged me to use my voice to help others. So right now, I advocate for other women to slow down, get rest and take charge of their health.

FFW: What does yoga do for your mind, body and spirit that no other discipline does?

Elisabeth Rohm: I try to do yoga regularly. It’s very much a mind/body/spirit activity. What I love about yoga is that it’s actually just like anything that promotes stillness but also exhilaration, which is applicable to business, parenting or even a romantic relationship. Yoga gives me a sense of peace and centers me.

Elisabeth Rohm, 2015
Elisabeth Rohm in 2015Getty

FFW: With such a busy lifestyle, where do you find the motivation to do yoga?

Elisabeth Rohm: To keep moving is connected to your health, and a sustainable long life. I think if you’re in touch with yourself, you can tell when you might be losing your center or balance.

I’ve been busier than ever lately, and it’s a joy to have such a full life, but it can also be stressful. It’s important to be centered.

Elisabeth Röhm, 2023
Elisabeth Röhm in 2023Getty

FFW: What causes you stress?

Elisabeth Rohm: I think as your children get older and they’re looking into the future for their own independent lives, that’s stressful. You’re worried about how it’s all going to turn out and if they get into their college of choice and what their future is going to look like, because it’s really all gravy when they’re living with you.

I love being a mom, so when they’re heading out the door into their own future, you begin to wonder about all that. But I think, because of my mom, I’m lucky that I have a natural built-in inclination to doing things that are mind/body/spirit in nature to get back into balance. That’s why I make time at the end of the day around 4:30 to head to the gym and get in some yoga.

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FFW: What brings you peace?

Elisabeth Rohm: The director David O. Russell asked me once when we were working together, “Liz, what do you want more than anything in the world?” And I said, “Peace.” He said, “Well, I meant a character you’d like to play.” And I replied, “Oh, did I really blow that opportunity?”

We both laughed. But there is a part of me that’s always wanted peace, and maybe that’s why I appreciate acting so much. Acting is where you can put your crazy or your vulnerable on, but ultimately what I value most in life as a parent, a mother, a wife, as a woman, is a feeling of peace and steadiness, and that’s something that’s cultivated.

The actress in 2024
Elisabeth Rohm in 2024@elisabethrohm/Instagram

FFW: How do you stay organized when you’re doing so many different things?

Elisabeth Rohm: I live by my to-do list and use it every single day. It’s the best way to be organized. I have the long list and then I make the short list.

I try to teach my teenager about time management and being super organized, so then you don’t feel anxious about what you have to turn in and what you need to do. The list with the massive amount of things I want to do in a day isn’t overwhelming then. A half-hour of list making is helpful, because then I can meet all those expectations I might have.

The actress in 2015
Elisabeth Rohm in 2015Getty

FFW: You went to Sarah Lawrence, and your upcoming Lifetime project is about the scandal at the college. Is your personal experience at the school what drew you to the movie?

Elisabeth Rohm: College was a great experience for me. My mother was also at Sarah Lawrence doing continuing education for adults, and I served on the board all through my work on Law & Order.

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I was really drawn to tell this story because I couldn’t believe the adults responsible at the school at the time did not heed the warning of one of the students and her mom. They told the school that this ex-con father, Larry Ray, had moved into his daughter’s dorm, and the school didn’t do anything about it. I was not on the board at the time. But this is a warning to other institutions and parents to really heed the warning signs of your kids.

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