Hendricks, now 30, was born in Knoxville, Tenn. but moved often as a child because her father worked for the U.S. Forest Service. "I always wanted to be in the arts. I wanted to be a ballet dancer but I was never quite good enough. I realized it was a masochistic profession, really tough. My mother used to do community theater and got my brother and I involved at a very young age, as a way to meet friends in a new town," she says. "I know a lot of actors who have the same sort of background. Having to observe all the time and fit in, you become an observer of behavior and I think it really helps with acting."
As for her current gig on Mad Men, "It's so rare that you get on something like this," she marvels. The show's critical and popular success "is kind of blowing our minds," Hendricks confides, surprised and thrilled about the reception–and talk of a possible Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
As much as she loves the Mad Men milieu, she wouldn't really want to live in the past, and points out the opportunities that exist today that weren't available to women back then. "We can run for president of the United States of America," she reminds. "I don't want to live anywhere but now."