My personal style signifier is my hair, usually worn natural and loose, though I have braids right now. My hair is the first thing that people notice about me and I’m proud of my curls. I also like the ’70s look and tend to wear high-waisted, wide-legged Jesse Kamm pants. I’m a fan of supporting small, women-owned businesses.

The last thing I bought and loved was a complete set of TRX kettlebells. My personal trainer, Anne Reuss, does strengthening work with me using these weights. They make me feel athletic, strong and graceful. Anne Reuss,

Ridloff’s TRX Kettlebells on a circular rug
Ridloff’s TRX Kettlebells © Chrisean Rose
Her sons’ toy collection, including Lego models and action figures
Her sons’ toy collection © Chrisean Rose

I have a collection of Makkari figurines. Makkari is the superhero I played in Marvel’s Eternals and being deaf is one of her powers. I’m just so proud of this character. My collection has a Funko Pop version, one that I got from a McDonald’s Happy Meal, a Hasbro one with moveable arms and legs, and a Lego figurine.

The place that means a lot to me is a small beach cottage in the Hamptons that has been in my husband’s family for years. It sits on a quiet bay where we go clamming, and my two boys love this place more than anywhere on earth.

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Kitchen Confidential by the late Anthony Bourdain. I loved his CNN series, Parts Unknown, and his writing is so raw and funny. Just as important was a book called Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann. It’s the fascinating story of Heumann’s fight for basic human rights such as an education and the right to work.

Ridloff sits on a sofa in her living room
Ridloff in her living room © Chrisean Rose

The best gift I’ve given recently is packing cubes for my husband. My publicist clued me into them and they make travelling so much easier. Now he can separate his garments – workout clothes, tops, sweaters – and put the cubes straight into a hotel drawer instead of unpacking.

My favourite apps include Cardzilla and Philips Hue. Cardzilla is a simple texting app that allows me to converse with people who don’t sign. It’s so easy to use with my castmates or in restaurants. I also love the Hue lighting app that allows you to change colours throughout the house – from room to room and by floor. My family is deaf, so we sometimes communicate with each other through the different bright colours we choose, and my kids love it.

A view inside Ridloff’s fridge
Ridloff’s fridge – where she always keeps a supply of fresh herbs © Chrisean Rose

In my fridge you’ll always find fresh herbs. They transform any dish and I like to add mint, coriander and basil to make herby soups and salads, dressing and smoothies.

The thing I couldn’t do without is my purple Moleskine journal. It has graph paper that allows me to make notes and to-do lists, and to log exercise in a very specific way. I carry it with me wherever I go with brightly coloured, fine-point Le Pen pens in orange, red and green that fit perfectly on the side.

An indulgence I would never forgo is running. Whether I am feeling blocked or upset, a run is always the answer. Running gives me time to troubleshoot and to get in a zone. I often run past Domino Park, along the East River to Greenpoint, or over the Williamsburg Bridge and back across the Brooklyn Bridge. It allows me to feel fit and able and, mostly importantly, relaxed, so it’s a real priority for me. I’m currently shooting in Atlanta and I find that a run through Piedmont Park is a form of meditation.

Ridloff’s piano, with a book of sheet music on the stand
Her piano © Chrisean Rose
A biography of her style icon Frida Kahlo on a wooden table
A biography of her style icon Frida Kahlo © Chrisean Rose

An object I would never part with is an heirloom charm bracelet given to me by my mom and which once belonged to my grandmother. It has many different gold charms on it – when I was a teacher, my students could always hear me coming.

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a big, warm-blue turtleneck sweater by the sustainable Spanish brand Babaà. It has exaggerated long sleeves and is very Brooklyn-Mom chic.

Her Babaà turtleneck, the latest item she added to her wardrobe
Her Babaà turtleneck, the latest item she added to her wardrobe © Chrisean Rose
Her Compact Tangle Teezer, £15, on a dresser in her bathroom
Her Compact Tangle Teezer, £15 © Chrisean Rose

The grooming staple I’m never without is a Tangle Teezer detangling hairbrush. It fits in the palm of the hand, so it’s very manageable. I use it on my boys too.

The best bit of advice I ever received was from the Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon. He said to “always come from a place of love” – meaning have the best intentions and all will work out right. 

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a teak stool that my husband and I bought on our honeymoon in Thailand. It’s a simple, portable stool that has grown with us and is now used by our boys in the kitchen. It’s a reminder of our beautiful trip to the Golden Triangle 16 years ago.

Frida Kahlo stands in front of a large aloe plant
Her style icon Frida Kahlo (photographed here by Toni Frissell)  © Granger/Bridgeman Images

My style icon is Frida Kahlo. She embraced her disabilities – and her back brace and prosthetic leg – and made them statements by wearing bold, colourful skirts and big jewellery. And, of course, there were her big brows. She had a uniform and I relate to that too.

The best gift I’ve received is a Le Creuset teapot from my mother-in-law. This glazed stoneware pot has been a gateway to many more Le Creuset Dutch ovens and pans – in Caribbean blue, orange and cherry red. I love the bold pops of colour in my otherwise all-white kitchen.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is difficult to choose. I’d really like to collect the work of several artists to create a symphony: a calming Alice Neel painting for my bedroom; a Frida Kahlo portrait for the living room; and a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting in the dining room. Together they would really spark conversation.

Ridloff with herbs in the kitchen
Ridloff with herbs in the kitchen © Chrisean Rose

My favourite room in my house is the kitchen in our brownstone in Williamsburg. It has great light and is the central hub for our family. We bought the house in 2009 during the financial collapse, and it was the best decision we ever made. Luckily, we had a great architect who reimagined this space from a closed galley to an open, sun-filled kitchen with enormous windows that open onto the back garden.

My favourite building is La Casa Azul in Mexico City. This was Frida Kahlo’s childhood home and the place where she learned to paint and spent much of the rest of her life. With its beautiful bright blue exterior, and a central courtyard and pond, it’s a magical place.

My beauty and grooming gurus are my close group of friends who advise me on everything from style to fitness to food. In addition, I rely on LA-based hairstylist Vernon François. He specialises in curly hair, and while I love my curls, I don’t like dealing with frizz. Vernon has taught me to fully embrace it.

In another life, I would have been a ballet dancer. My older sister was a professional dancer and is a choreographer in Chicago – I would have loved to continue in the dance world.

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