At 68, Judith Light won’t even entertain the idea of retirement. “As a matter of fact,” the Transparent star assured Closer Weekly in an exclusive new interview, “I’m getting more work than ever before — and I look forward to tackling it all!” The Tony winner’s confidence level hasn’t always been so rock-solid. “I never thought I’d get here,” she admitted, revealing she considered quitting acting around the time she was offered a soap opera gig 40 years ago. “I’d sworn I was never going to do a soap. My mind said, I’m better than that,” Judith, who got her drama degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 1970, said.

But after taking the role of One Life to Live’s Karen Wolek, a bored house-wife-turned-prostitute, in 1977, Judith’s attitude changed. “I saw what kind of work was involved, the kind of actors that were there and the challenges it posed,” she says of the gig that won her two Daytime Emmys.

Accepting the role opened her eyes to things off-screen as well. “I realized I had to make a transformation and I had to do so with all aspects of my life,” Judith said. “It actually transformed me more as a human being.”

Her enlightenment led her to dive deeper into another passion. “I’ve always cared about bringing service to other people,” Judith — whose charitable outreach includes being a flu ambassador for a national flu awareness campaign and a tireless AIDS research advocate — said. Her schedule’s quite packed, but she’d have it no other way. “I can’t wait to wake up!” she said.