Leelee Sobieski: From Teen Star to Mom

updated 08/30/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/30/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

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Since giving birth to daughter Louisanna last December, former teen star Leelee Sobieski has discovered a new favorite pastime: singing off-key. "I make up songs for her, like, 'I'm so proud of you!'" says the actress. "They're filled with such sweet intention, but they come out sounding terrible! I really cannot carry a tune."

Luckily her life is much more harmonious than her lullabies. Sobieski found fame early on, starring opposite Drew Barrymore in the romantic comedy Never Been Kissed and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut-all before she was old enough to vote. She later scored an Emmy nod for her work in the TV miniseries Joan of Arc. But like many young '90s stars who are now building their own families (see page 62), the native New Yorker, 27, has taken a step back from the spotlight since she welcomed her first child with her fashion-designer fiance, Adam Kimmel, 31. "I want to figure out the right balance" with work, says Sobieski, who recently guest-starred on Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva. "If it's going to take me away from my family, it has to be easy and fun to do."

The same criteria apply to her daily activities with Louisanna, a.k.a. Lewi. Along with taking long walks near their Tribeca loft and teaching her how to crawl, "tickling her is fun," Sobieski says. "If she laughs, I laugh. If I heard myself talking a year ago, I'd be like, 'So boring!'" she admits. "But that's what happens. My baby is really fascinating to me."

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