February 08, 1999 12:00 PM

Woodstock. Peace signs. LBJ. All ancient history to Jordana Brewster, 18, who learned a hard lesson playing a student activist in NBC’s upcoming (Feb. 7 and 8) miniseries The ’60s. The past was no blast. “We had to paint it in a realistic light for everyone who lived through it,” says Brewster, “and also steer kids away from the clichés about flower power, sex and having fun.”

So the three-year veteran of daytime’s As the World Turns—who also appears in the current teen sci-fi flick The Faculty—dutifully did her homework. “At first I read every book [about that decade],” she says, but she found her most helpful insights in the musical musings of one Bob Dylan.

The granddaughter of Kingman Brewster Jr., who saw his share of protests as president of Yale from 1963-77, Jordana was raised in London, Rio de Janeiro and Manhattan by investment banker father Alden and Brazilian mother Maria, the 1978 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED swimsuit issue cover model. With their support, Jordana joined ATWT at 15. “Soaps are less nerve-racking” than films, says Brewster, but “I thrive on stress.”

And challenge. Brewster says she was accepted at Yale on her own strengths—not her lineage—but has deferred going there for a year. “She was using words I didn’t understand,” says ’60s costar Jerry O’Connell. But living on her own in an L.A. apartment since December, Brewster, who is dating actor Mark (Boogie Nights) Wahlberg, 27, also uses two words everyone understands: Please deliver. “It was a month before I realized the gas wasn’t turned on!” she admits. (It still isn’t.) With a mere phone call, “the food arrives in an hour. It’s awesome!”

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