Blake Lively doesn't miss much about Gossip Girl.
The actress played wealthy Manhattanite Serena van der Woodsen for six seasons on The CW series, a role that put her on the map. "People loved it, but it always felt a little personally compromising—you want to be putting a better message out there," Lively explains in Allure's May 2015 issue, noting that viewers often confused her with her character on TV. "The lines become blurred."
"It doesn't help when everybody is dating who they're dating on the show, and you're also saying to the costume designer, 'Hey, can I take that home?'" adds Lively, who dated co-star Penn Badgley from 2008 to 2010.
"It's a weird thing when people feel like they know you really well, and they don't," Lively continues. "I would not be proud to be the person who gave someone the cocaine that made them overdose and then shot someone and slept with someone else's boyfriend." (Yes, Serena really did do those things.)
The movie star met her husband, Ryan Reynolds, while shooting 2011's The Green Lantern. They got married in a secret ceremony at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., on Sept. 9, 2012. Lively returned to the Gossip Girl set days later, and months later, the primetime series finally came to an end.
Lively then took some time away from acting to focus on building her website, Preserve. It was through that platform that she announced her pregnancy in 2014.
"That was my way of owning that moment. I can't be someone like Beyoncé and be like—" Lively says, miming the singer's onstage announcement of her pregnancy at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2011. "But it was important for us. It was a struggle, because we want to keep our privacy, but we also don't want our lives to be exploited by other people. So we did it simply; it was a quiet way, an elegant way."
Lively welcomed her firstborn daughter, James Reynolds, the following year.
Breastfeeding is "a full-time job. I'm, like, driving down the road, pumping."
How does she manage to juggle motherhood and a career? "Most of the things I do are all-consuming, but somehow I find a way to do it all. It's not having it all; it's about doing it all," Lively says, "but it's dangerous to dilute that to a catchphrase."
"Having it all could be having a happy, healthy family, and you could be a mom who stays at home, and that is the most admirable thing you could do. Or it could be having a profession that you really believe in, and not having a family, and doing what fulfills you," the the Age of Adaline actress adds. "If it's not a part of a conversation with someone face-to-face, those bites are why women tear each other apart or why the media will tear people apart."
"But I look at the big picture," Lively says, noting that her career has provided her with extra advantages. "Most women don't get that. There's a lot of pressure on women to be a certain thing, and there are compromises you have to make. You don't get to be with your family all the time; most women don't."
For Lively, "having it all" and "doing it all" aren't mutually exclusive.
"I don't believe I have to choose—who says so? Who says we can't do anything that we set our mind to? You may not be the best at it. You may not be the most successful. But you can try your best," the actress tells Allure. "That's what having it all means to me—not letting anyone tell me no but myself."
Allure's May 2015 issue hits newsstands Apr. 21.