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Katey Sagal plays ‘sexy, strong’ woman in TV series ‘Rebel’

Katey Sagal could trademark “strong-willed.” Demure? Not in her bag.

Shy does not describe tacky Peg Bundy (“Married With Children”) or leather-wearing mama Gemma Teller Morrow (“Sons of Anarchy”). Add to the outspoken list a 67-year-old redhead in curve-hugging outfits who goes by the name of “Rebel” Bello in her new ABC series airing Thursday nights.

In the hourlong drama, produced by Erin Brockovich, Sagal plays an activist and tireless champion for justice. Sagal figures it’s time for this kind of mature fighter. “She fights the good fight, gives voice to the voiceless and doesn’t take no for an answer,” she says via Zoom.

Her memoir, “Grace Notes,” chronicles the L.A. native’s childhood in a showbiz family, her work as a singing waitress, and life as a backup performer with Bob Dylan, Etta James and Bette Midler.

The mom of three is married to “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter.

Review-Journal: What was the appeal of “Rebel”?

Katey Sagal: I read the script and thought “lucky me.” I like playing smart, sexy women. She’s funny, messy and brilliant. She’s also a woman who cares desperately about the causes she fights for and the people she loves. She can cross a few lines and go outside the box. She can push where maybe it wouldn’t be within legal bounds. Not that she’s illegal. But she just pushes it a bit further. Her primary purpose is to do the right thing and fight. Also, she’s not a lawyer. If she were a lawyer, she’d be limited. And she’d have to wear those lawyer clothes. No fun in that.

Talk about working with Erin Brockovich.

It was thrilling to work with her because I love what she stands for as a human being. There are no words for her energy. We didn’t know each other but started a conversation (over lunch) that lasted for hours. In the end, we had the same thought: Life is messy. There are complicated dynamics of darkness and light. The frustration to bring it all together is so relatable.

You’re known for playing strong women. Was “Rebel” an easy choice because she has guts?

I was told that the series would tackle serious issues and still have a sense of humor. I was happy to take on the challenge.

We hear that your daughter Sarah Grace White will appear in the April 22 episode.

This was the first time we worked together. She’s adorable and quirky and got along with everyone. She’s also very funny. She came in and auditioned. The only thing we had to struggle with was to make sure she didn’t look too much like me. … My daughter is 26 and acting is her love, her dream and her art. Nepotism is a wonderful thing, but once they get in the door, they have to knock it out. They don’t get the gig unless they deliver.

You have a complex relationship with John Corbett, who plays your current love interest.

I don’t want to give it away. All I can tell you is John sticks around. It’s a complex relationship and feels really real. It feels like two people trying to figure stuff out. Both want the same thing but have different ways of getting there. I have been married a bunch. I do know the dance. This TV relationship feels good. It feels bad. It feels messy. It feels loving.

“Rebel” has an ex-husbands’ club of three that gets along.

It’s like any family dynamic. It’s not perfect. It’s complicated, but at the core they’re a family. And family takes many forms. This is not a saccharine situation. You scream, yell, kiss and make up. It’s all that — and it’s real.

Have you kept any mementos from your showbiz past?

One of my favorite things comes from “Sons of Anarchy.” I have the long leather coat from the pilot. Oh, and I have Peg Bundy’s wig in a plexiglass box at our house in Idaho. That’s pretty cool because there was only one wig that we used and this was it.

What do you remember about touring with Dylan?

It wasn’t any socializing. All business. After rehearsals, we would sit and listen to the tape. If you made a mistake, Bob would look at you, and you fixed that mistake next time. At the same time, it was amazing to get onstage with him.

Why did you decide to write your memoir?

It started as journaling for my children. My parents died many years ago and I didn’t have someone to ask. I don’t have any living relatives. I wanted my kids to have the answers to who they were when they were younger and who I was when I was younger. It was how to do things, how not to do things. It grew into something much bigger, which was a book.

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?

I’m with family. Skies are blue. I have a guitar in my hand and I’m playing music new and old.

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