NEW YORK (Reuters) - She is best known for her role as one of New York's stylish single girls prowling for men, but in reality "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon's world is all about family life with her female partner and a lifestyle removed from the city's glamour.
Nixon, a rising gay rights activist, returns as Miranda in the "Sex and the City 2" movie which opens on Thursday. She reprises her character from the long-running television show, a self-deprecating workaholic lawyer in a foursome of women friends who bond over nightlife, fashion and pursuit of men.
The real-life Nixon, 44, is more likely found in her New York neighborhood, clad in yoga pants with a child in tow, a far cry from "Sex and the City's" glitter.
"That's hard for me sometimes because I feel like it's not my New York," Nixon said, adding that she hopes women take away a message of "look your best, not necessarily to catch a man, but because of the way it makes you feel. Use it as a form of self expression."
The sequel has Miranda married with a child, struggling to break through a glass ceiling in the workplace and sharing experiences of motherhood.
In real life, Nixon plans to marry Christine Marinoni with whom she is raising two children that she had with a former partner, a man. A breast cancer survivor, Nixon serves as a spokeswoman for cancer research and works in support of New York's public schools.
Her openness about her gay relationship has not jeopardized the roles she has been offered since the hit "Sex and the City" television series ended six years ago, she said.
"A lot of people know that I am with a woman, but I feel like that is not the front and center perception they have of me. The front and center perception they have of me is 'Sex and the City,'" she said.
"I am much more likely to be offered a corporate lawyer than I am to be offered a lesbian of whatever ilk."
'NOT A SPRING CHICKEN'
Hollywood used to be hostile to publicly gay actors for fear it might put off audiences. But Nixon, who is among a new crop of entertainers who openly talk of dating the same sex, say such fears are groundless today.
"There have been gay actors playing straight characters ... as long as there has been Hollywood," said Nixon, who has been lending her voice in support of gay marriage since making headlines in 2004 when she began dating Marinoni.
"I don't feel like actors should have to pretend that they are something they are not in order to be believable," she said.
Age may play a bigger part in the roles she lands, she joked, adding: "I am not a spring chicken, I am not going to get cast as like the 25-year-old girl in the movie opposite, whoever, Jake Gyllenhaal."
Nixon, a native New Yorker who first appeared on television at age 12, has won Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards for her work.
She would like most to be known for a life of acting that extends well past the "Sex and the City" juggernaut.
"Laurence Olivier said the best thing for a young actor to learn is how to become an old actor, and that's what I want," she said.
"One of these days 'Sex and the City' is going to be gone, but I am still going to be here," she said.
"Sex and the City 2" is distributed by Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc..
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)