Hannah Waddingham Opens Up About Her Daughter's Health Scare Five Years Ago

“I can talk about it now, but I couldn’t for a very long time,” the star says of her daughter’s painful ordeal

Hannah Waddingham rollout 4/10
Photo: Erik Carter

Hannah Waddingham makes no qualms about what's most important in her life.

"My primary function is being a single mama," the Emmy-winning Ted Lasso star says in this week's issue of PEOPLE, opening up about her booming career and life raising her 8-year-old daughter.

When it comes to balancing the demands of motherhood while being one of Hollywood's most in-demand new stars, "mommy guilt is real," she says of that push-pull. "But I keep saying to her that we are a team and that I have to do this. I have to strike while the iron is hot. I'm not so conceited that I would think that I will always have this kind of focus. I've always said to her, 'Mommy must take this time while the light shines on me, because the light shines on you.'"

Waddingham, 48, who prefers to keep her daughter's identity and that of her father private, says motherhood was her sole focus five years ago. She'd just wrapped a project in Belfast and "my beloved little girl who was 3 at the time became suddenly very ill," Waddingham says of learning her daughter suffers from Henoch-Schönlein purpura or HSP, a painful auto-immune disorder that causes inflammation and bleeding in the small blood vessels, resulting in rashes and sore joints.

"I can talk about it now," she says, "but I couldn't for a very long time. She was in the hospital for a while with them not knowing what it was." Terrified, the actress decided to step back from any jobs that would take her away from London. She reluctantly auditioned for Lasso at the urging of her team and fell in love with the role.

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Hannah Waddingham rollout 4/10
Erik Carter

"I had a two-hour chemistry read with Jason [Sudeikis] and I asked, 'Where are you shooting?' He said 'Richmond.' I said 'Virginia?' And he went, 'Richmond in England.' In that moment, I just thought, 'please bring me this role.'" After learning she landed it, "I had to get off the phone and mop up my face in my car knowing that my life had just changed."

But most importantly, Waddingham's daughter is "much better now," she says, "so that's the greatest."

Waddingham's Emmy Award sits in her daughter's room as a reminder. "I want to teach her that work hard and great things will come to you."

Ted Lasso drops new season 3 episodes Wednesdays on Apple TV+.

For more on Waddingham, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

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