November 2nd, 2011
01:03 PM ET
Despite landing on top on Monday's "Dancing With the Stars," Ricki Lake swears she's the dance competition's underdog.
"I'm just really glad I'm still in it," Lake told CNN ahead of Monday night's show. "I think the war hero [J.R. Martinez] is going to be very tough to beat. Not only is he a great guy, he’s one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met in my life and he has a smile that lights up the world. And he’s a natural born dancer."
Lake had been busy prepping for the paso doble routine with her acclaimed "DWTS" partner Derek Hough, but that's far from all the 43-year-old star has going on at the moment.
The actress/talk show host/reality star and documentary EP has added another film to her resume: “More Business of Being Born," which will be released on DVD November 8.
“More Business” is the aptly titled follow-up to her 2008 documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” which explored delivery options and the status of the maternity care system.
But, Lake tells CNN, she and her team “felt like with the first film there were still unanswered questions, simple questions like what’s a doula, what’s the difference between a doula and a midwife, what’s a VBAC [vaginal birth after cesarean], and all these things we couldn’t answer in an 85 minute film."
So Lake found herself behind the camera as an executive producer once again, along with her director, Abby Epstein.
“The first film was the most personal project ever, I paid for it myself. I never even came close to breaking even. These projects are not about making money or paying my mortgage, it’s because I believe in the subject matter,” she says. “We didn't take a salary - everyone joined forces and we worked on it for two and a half years, interviewing amazing high profile women with their incredible empowering, positive birth stories."
Including the personal stories from Lake's fellow celebs, which are told on the "Special Deliveries" portion of the documentary that intends to offer inspiration to expectant parents. "We found there was this real support out there," Lake says, "and I’m so grateful to all the women who have come forward like Alanis Morissette, Gisele Bundchen, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford.”
Balancing her documentary with her upcoming talk show as well as “DWTS” has been “crazy,” Lake admits.
“It’s truly probably one of the craziest times in my career. I have two sons and I barely see them, but I’m getting by. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she says.
And there is an upside: At the very least, she’s having fun.
“I’m enjoying this tremendously,” she says of her “DWTS” experience. “It’s an incredible opportunity, and I’m really grateful. My body is beat up, I look like a Dalmatian, and I have so many bruises on my body it’s like I’m spotted. But I’m getting through, and I love it.”
As for getting ready for “The Ricki Lake Show,” scheduled to debut next year, Lake says they’ve shot a pilot and they’ve built the set, which is designed to be more like a living room so that it’s a more inclusive environment.
"Probably one of my greatest gifts and my biggest flaws is that I’m an open book. Sometimes, loved ones around me probably wish I didn’t put it all out there, but I feel like being authentic is what I owe the audience that has been so loyal and used to watch me and hopefully will continue to watch me through this new incarnation,” Lake says.
“I’ve evolved. I’ve grown up,” she continues. “That cliché of when you turn 40 you know who you are, that was absolutely true for me. I think I’m going to be better this time around, I feel like I’ve learned so much more, the life experience that I’ve had in the last eight years since I’ve been off the air has just been a big learning experience that will make me a better host, I think.”
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