Shawn Weatherly Harris and I come from different backgrounds. A Southern belle who was anointed Miss Universe 1980, Shawn later became a successful actress with roles in TV shows such as "Baywatch" and "OceanQuest."
While Shawn was collecting crowns and acting gigs, I was a myopic, frizzy-haired feminist bent on making a mark in journalism. But life has a way of bringing people together, and today Shawn and I are friends.
Not only is Shawn still whiplash-inducing gorgeous, she is also smart, funny, kind, modest and exceedingly grounded. She is a devoted wife to husband Chip, and mother to son Jack, 16, and daughter Jessie, 13.
As any opportunistic writer would do, I decided to take advantage of our friendship and prevail upon Shawn to sit down for an interview. Good sport that she is, she readily agreed.
Shawn's road to Newport Beach, where she now lives, has had some eventful turns. Her father was in the Air Force, and by the time she was a toddler, Shawn had settled with her parents and two older brothers in Sumter, S.C., near Shaw Air Force Base. She recalls being a shy, awkward girl, but when she was 9, her mother died of bone cancer, a tragedy that ultimately toughened her to life's cruelties.