Laura Prepon on Motherhood, Sharing Her Truth and Her Decision to Leave Scientology

"If motherhood has taught me anything so far, it's that something can work out for a period of time and then you move on," the mom of two tells PEOPLE

Laura Prepon
Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty

Motherhood has been a game-changer for Laura Prepon.

The Orange Is the New Black and That '70s Show star says welcoming her daughter, 4, and son, 16 months, with her husband, actor Ben Foster, led her to look inward.

"As a brand new mother, I was reflecting so much on my own upbringing and the way I was mothered," the actress, 41, tells PEOPLE. "I was forced to look at a lot of things in my life that I wasn't looking at before."

In March 2020, Prepon revealed that her mother had taught her to be bulimic, a story she told in her memoir, You and I, As Mothers. As shocking as the truth was, Prepon, who has long since recovered, is grateful she decided to share her story.

"I had so many people reaching out to me, telling me about their own issues and struggles with food and their relationships with their parents," she says. "Many people have thanked me for opening up about my relationship with my mother. Both the positive and the negative, because a lot of times we glaze over stuff because it's hard or makes us feel vulnerable. If there's someone out there who's silently struggling with dysfunctional eating or struggling with their parents, and if I helped a single person, I'd be happy."

"Even if we have great relationships with our mothers, it's complicated," she adds. "I'm still learning from it. My mother has Alzheimer's and I have to come to terms with the fact that this woman who was an incredible force in my life — is fading. It's very hard to watch. I just try to be there and stay present for the good moments we have."

Laura Prepon
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Another change, one that occurred several years ago but that she's never shared until now, is that she is no longer a Scientologist.

"I'm no longer practicing Scientology," says Prepon. "I've always been very open-minded, even since I was a child. I was raised Catholic and Jewish. I've prayed in churches, meditated in temples. I've studied Chinese meridian theory. I haven't practiced Scientology in close to five years and it's no longer part of my life."

These days she finds solace in meditation, which she does with her husband, who has never practiced Scientology. "We meditate daily and I'm really liking it," she says, "because it's something that helps me to hear my own voice and it's something we can do together."

Ben Foster and Laura Prepon
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"If motherhood has taught me anything so far, it's that something can work out for a period of time and then you move on and evolve from that," notes Prepon. "As a new mom, I was riddled with anxiety that I had never experienced before. My friends who were mothers with older kids said, 'Laura, this is a phase, you'll move on and then it will be something different.' And that has transcended into other parts of my life. We're all evolving. I always see that with my kids."

"They are changing every day now," she adds. "My daughter is outgoing and wonderful and obsessed with mermaids — it used to be unicorns. She's also very determined and does not give up. My son is beginning to socialize with kids more in small classes. He's much more calm and observant."

With the arrival of her son came another beautiful surprise. "When I had my second child I thought, how am I ever going to love a child as much as I love my first?" Prepon says. "Then you do and it's this overwhelming sense of love. It's incredible how that happens."

She's spent much of the last year working from home to launch her cookware line, PrepOn Kitchen, and is writing her third book, another cookbook. As for new acting projects, she says, "Orange Is the New Black was so incredible, to work with all of those incredible actors and direct multiple episodes, it's hard to find something that lives up to that. Now, my first question is how long is it going to take me away from my family. Now that I have two kids, everything is a family decision. I miss acting but my life is pretty dominated by my entrepreneurial stuff. Right now, it's kind of a one-woman show over here!"

For now, Prepon is enjoying a quieter life at home, which includes movie nights and catching up on new shows. "I love The Crown — that was awesome. And I started Schitt's Creek — I love to watch that when I just want to giggle. I'm very into Big Little Lies, I know that I'm late. You really feel like you're in these women's lives. I also love that it focused on strong women and I really love the storytelling and how the story lines unfold."

She and Foster, 40, also love to watch old films. "We pick a director and watch a bunch of their films. I'll make us a homemade meal and we'll do our film school and talk about it. We've been watching Preston Sturges. Or we'll do Orson Welles or John Huston. I love The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

"Life is slowly starting to have some semblance of normalcy again," she says, "so for now, it's just work, family and trying to get a laugh when we can."

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