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Beautiful Minds

updated 04/25/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/25/2011 01:00AM

ANNA PAQUIN ATTENDED COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

• Have you ever had to play down your intelligence?

"No. I've never felt like if I seemed smart that it would be a bad thing," says the New Zealand-raised True Blood star, 28, who was enrolled at Columbia for a year before leaving to pursue her career.

• How would you grade your knowledge of beauty products?

"I have very finicky skin, so I could write an encyclopedia on what works well for which ailment. I'm obsessive about skin care actually."

• Are you ever self-conscious about one of your signature features-the gap in your teeth?

"It doesn't really bother me. I would only change it if it made me blend into a wider range of roles."

• What's the wisest life choice you've made?

"Getting married was a pretty good one," says Paquin, who wed her True Blood costar Stephen Moyer last year.

JORDANA BREWSTER YALE UNIVERSITY CLASS OF '04

• What were you like in college?

"I was so stressed about getting good grades that I was a nerd," says the 30-year-old Fast & Furious actress (the latest installment, Fast Five, debuts this month). "I wish I had joined a sorority and had more fun."

• Do you prefer to play dumb characters or smart ones?

"When you have to play a little bit dumb or innocent, that can be challenging. I love Tina Fey because she does both. On 30 Rock, she's smart and a bit of a mess. We all relate to that."

• What's your main beauty game plan?

"I don't follow a lot of trends because they change so often. I stick to tried and true-drinking lots of water and good nutrition."

TATYANA ALI HARVARD UNIVERSITY CLASS OF '02

• What's the most valuable thing you learned at Harvard?

"It made me realize how important intelligence is," says the 32-year-old singer and Love That Girl! actress (and former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star). "And that there were other dorks like me!"

• Best beauty tip your mother ever gave you?

"She always said, 'Keep it simple,'" says Ali. "Don't get too many facials or put too many chemicals on your face."

• Smartest career move:

"I decided to take my future into my own hands and started a production company."

• Do you prefer smart roles or ditzy roles?

"Ashley [on Fresh Prince] was a smart girl. I prefer smart women who are really going out for something. The role I'm playing now, Tyana Jones, sometimes she's ditzy and sometimes she's brilliant."

AMANDA PEET COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CLASS OF '94

• What was your major?

"I did an American history concentration, which just means you didn't have the discipline to declare an actual major," says the 39-year-old mom of Frances, 4, and Molly, 1, who's set to star in a new NBC pilot, Bent.

• Who's your beauty idol?

"Jill Clayburgh definitely comes to mind. She was beautiful inside and out-and intelligent."

• Would you consider yourself more book smart or street smart?

"I've never given it a lot of thought, but I'm definitely the least well-read of all my friends."

• Are you smart about the sun?

"Yes, but I'm not religious about it. I slop on whatever is available."

ELLIE KEMPER PRINCETON UNIVERSITY CLASS OF '02

• What has Hollywood taught you about beauty?

"I have learned to moisturize. And I have learned to take makeup off before I go to bed," says The Office star, 30. "I used to never do that, and that's when you break out."

• What were you like in high school?

"I was very studious-staying up to study until 1 a.m. College, not as studious. I did more improv and played field hockey."

MINDY KALING DARTMOUTH COLLEGE CLASS OF '01

• So how does it feel to be dubbed a beauty?

"I identify as a comedy writer, so to get compliments on appearance, that's the nicest compliment-to be shallow! I've heard since I was 8 or 9 that I was smart, so this is great," says the actress and producer, 31.

• Do you have any beauty secrets?

"This is an Indian thing-my mom makes me heat up coconut oil, put it in my hair and wrap it in a towel. It keeps it shiny."

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