Sultry Sela Ward admits she's not the woman she was 10 years ago ? and she's darn happy about it.

Ward tells More that just before her 40th birthday she auditioned for the role of a Bond girl opposite Pierce Brosnan. To her dismay she was told by the director, "What I really want is Sela Ward 10 years ago." Says Ward, "It was as if I hit a brick wall. It was my midlife crisis."

Now, at 43, Ward is happy with herself and her age. "I can see things starting to fall. But you know what? Screw it. I don't want to put any more energy into being something I'm not. Yes, it really sucks to lose your youthful looks. By the same token, I know that by the age of 43 I have never felt better in my life. Much more grounded, and very sexy. I feel like a piece of juicy fruit."

Ward, who won an Emmy for her role as Teddy on Sisters, says she also welcomes the wisdom that comes with age. "For me, the gift of age was losing the fear of pursuing something. I started actively going to producers and saying 'I really want to do this project.' " The result: Ward's return to television in the ABC drama Once and Again. "I didn't want to be stuck playing a second-banana role as the mother of a cute kid with cute animals."

Does this mean Ward is through playing the younger woman? "If something comes along, then great. But you know what? I like being who I am, right this very minute."