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Jennifer Love Hewitt stars in “The Client List,” a new series on Lifetime.

Mom is key to success for Hewitt

Whether whispering to ghosts, fighting the tabloids or playing Audrey Hepburn, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt has a loyal fan base.

When she was photographed in a bikini in 2007 after gaining some weight, her fans famously lashed out at the tabloids, and so did she. In 2010, her book about love and dating, “The Day I Shot Cupid,” was a New York Times best seller. The cover of Maxim magazine has featured her four times, with the most recent being the April issue.

Along with being an author and cover girl, she is a singer, songwriter, producer and director. The 33-year-old stars in Lifetime’s new series “The Client List,” playing a single mother who gets into the sex trade out of financial desperation. The show airs Sunday at 10 p.m.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q. When you were researching your role for “The Client List,” did you talk to women in the sex trade?

A. I did not. I chose not to. I think the biggest part of the show is the sort of sex-worker position she finds herself in, but for me the biggest part of the show is the inner workings of a girl who becomes a woman through her circumstances – a single mom who is just trying to make it work.

For me, the research was more about who she is as a person and less about what she does. So as fascinating as it would have been to go and spend time with those women and understand the day-in and day-outs of their life, that is not who Riley is to me. Ultimately. I spent more time trying to figure out emotionally where she would be versus how she would technically do things.

Q. You have been acting since you were a child, so is preparing for a role like riding a bike – no matter what the role, you know what you have to do and how to do it to prepare?

A. I mean, there are definitely things that throw you through a loop. There are harder parts than others. … This character for me is not easy at all, but it is something that is ingrained in me and that I know very well. Because on some level, emotionally, I feel like I’m playing my mom. I am from Texas. I come from a very big family of really strong-willed, feisty, gorgeous, great Texas women.

My mom was a single mom, who did everything she could to make sure that her two kids, a boy and a girl, much like my character on the series, were taken care of and never wanted for anything. That’s very much who Riley is, so for me I’ve been sort of researching Riley my whole life sort of watching my mom.

Q. Your mother moved you and your brother to Los Angeles to pursue your career. She had to have faith in you, but wasn’t that scary for her?

A. It was pretty scary for her, and she had the utmost faith in me, which is something I will never forget my whole life. It’s part of the reason I am able to go and do what I do every day. You know, when you have somebody believing in you like that, it is priceless. It’s been really great.

Q. Did you feel pressure to succeed?

A. I never felt pressure, I really didn’t. My mom never made me feel like I had to be here. I always had the option to pull the plug, so to speak, and say, “Let’s go home. I’m done. I’m not having fun anymore; this is scary. Let’s get out of here.”