Though she and husband Robert Altman wed in 1984, at the height of her career and just five years removed from her last episode of Wonder Woman, Carter says she “was very happy to get out of L.A.”
“I had a large body of work already, and I didn’t really have a lot of substance in my life,” Carter, 65, tells PEOPLE. “I spent a lot of time on movie sets — and that is being said in a way right now that I’m grateful for it — but I didn’t have a lot of substance in my life.”
She and Altman built an 18,000 sq. ft. home just outside D.C. city lines in Maryland in 1987, and Carter gave birth to her son James the next January. Daughter Jessica followed in 1990, and Carter says she found the fulfillment she was seeking in her family.
“I found that it was the person. It’s always the people in your life — the friends and family that you choose to spend time with,” she says. “It is every step you take that is the more difficult step in taking care of your children. The easy way out often ends up being the hardest.”
Carter says raising her kids — both of whom are now lawyers — in the D.C. suburbs over Hollywood was the perfect choice.
“I think that the intellectual pursuits in our family were much more the focus of our lives. It was never the stuff or the gimmies or the presents; it’s the accomplishments and the sense of accomplishments in our lives,” she says. “And living in Washington, you have plenty of opportunity to get passionate about a lot of things.”
“It’s a very interesting place to live, and it’s gotten very heated over the past few years, but it’s intensely interesting.”
For more on Carter and a peek into her home, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
Recently though, Carter hasn’t had much time to relax at home. The actress, who plays President Olivia Marsdin in CW’s Supergirl, is also a singer, and she’s preparing to release her third studio album this fall. Plus, she’s been making appearances for the big screen version of Wonder Woman, which she loved.
“They knocked it out of the park,” Carter says of director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot. “I’m 100 percent supportive so GO SEE THIS MOVIE!”