6 Questions With Busy Philipps About Motherhood, Friendships & Finding Self-Love
Full disclosure: We love Busy Philipps. When she's not sharing the most relatable moments in her day on Instagram, she's popping up in films and TV shows like I Feel Pretty or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and brightening our days the only way she knows how: through a good laugh. As a working mom of two daughters who's been building a thriving career as an actor since the late '90s, Philipps has and always will continue to inspire us. Her hustle is legendary, her positive outlook on life is infectious, and we can't get enough.
So, when we got to the chance to chat with her recently, Philipps didn't hold back when discussing how she maintains friendships that have lasted decades or how she raises two daughters at this touch-and-go moment in time. But ever the source of inspiration, Philipps was able to put such an enlightened, positive spin on it that it was hard not to come away from the conversation feel comforted and emboldened by her words.
SheKnows: You and Michelle Williams are still friends after all these years, and you have gone through so many life experiences together. What areas of life do you two still connect over or help each other out with?
Busy Philipps: It's interesting to me when I get these questions because I really question what other people's female friendships are like. I'm like, "Do they not have them? Like, why is mine so unusual that I've been able to maintain that for so many years?" I mean, I just feel like we connect over all things. We're both mothers. We have both girls. We both are working parents. We're both women. We're just at a similar age and time and life experience, and we're best friends. So that's a kind of thing that we connect over. We like the same books, the same music and we're, like, probably like most people and their friends, you know?
SK: Considering the pace of your life due to your work, how do you prioritize your friendships? How do you make time or show your friends that you're still connected with them?
BP: I think you have to try and make it a priority to show up and keep in contact. I think that at times I've been more successful with some of my friends than at other times. Life does happen, and you have to count on your friends being able to understand that, to go through these phases.
One of the things that's important is to be able to sit with your friends when they go through one of those times where they're not able to be as communicative with you as you want them to be. I had this therapist many years ago who said, "I just want to remind you of something. Almost — almost — nothing is personal. Almost everything is about that own person's experience." And so once you descend the knee in a friendship is like the distance is personal or if it's just a product of their life being hectic and it has really nothing to do with you, then you have to be able to be willing to sit through that period of time and then be there still at the other end of it.
It's not just my friends who are in television and film and the film industry; it's all of my friends. I'm still in touch with friends from high school and college and stuff. We go through varying levels of involvement in one another's lives, but you just have to understand that's just the way that long-term relationships go. So if there are periods of time where I'm able to make more of an effort or there are periods of time where my friends are able to make more of an effort, you just have to hope that that can sustain your relationships, because I think there is something really beautiful about having friendships that last, you know, 20, 30, maybe even 40 years.
SK: We're curious to know, in regards to your daughters, what lessons or moral ideals do you find most important to pass along to them right now?
BP: I think that given the events of the last year and with the #MeToo movement, I'm really encouraged by the change that has begun, and I hope it continues. I think that they're going to benefit from being raised in a time where, hopefully, they won't have to deal with some of the things that, you know, my generation (or, obviously, older generations) have dealt with.
Also, I guess this might get heavy or whatever, but also, I mean in terms of consent, [I'm discussing] what that means [with Birdie, 9 and Cricket, 4]. And I am hopeful that, like, my friends who are raising boys are also working toward raising different kinds of men. I mean, in a way, weirdly, my husband [writer and producer Marc Silverstein] and I talk about how I'm not saying we have the easier job, but we definitely have a more clearly defined job right now in terms of raising young girls who are going to become awesome women. I think that the road becomes a little bit trickier to navigate when we see some of our friends who are raising boys. It's hard. It's hard, and I think that it has to be a conversation that everyone is a part of.
SK: Have the girls gotten inquisitive at all about any specific kind of issues, like #MeToo?
BP: No, no, no, not Cricket yet. But Birdie is very aware, but no, she doesn't [ask about anything specific either]. She doesn't know what [#MeToo] is. She's only in third grade. So now, I mean, not particularly that.
She was very curious about Donald Trump and when [the 2016 election] was going on that was something that was on her radar, I think because it was sort of everywhere. You couldn't escape it or what it meant for the first female nominee of the [Democratic] party and what that would've meant, so that there were questions about that. That was very difficult to navigate, but like everything, you do it. You have those conversations. And, like, the schools are helpful. They help you figure it out and websites are helpful.
SK: You are so candid on social media; you really let the world in. Are there certain topics or kinds of posts that are a no-go? Where do you draw the line?
BP: I would say that a lot of it for me is intuitive, and if something doesn't feel quite right, I wouldn't post it. If I've ever had a question about something, I probably won't post it. It's literally the same rules that they give the kids in elementary school about the internet — I just feel like adults need to follow them as well, and they frequently do not.
There have been times where I've wanted to be snarky about something in pop culture, but I work in this industry, and I have a lot of friends, and I often think, like, "Is it worth me being snarky about something that could possibly get back to someone I know and, like, and hurt their feelings?" And the answer is always, "No, I don't want to hurt people's feelings." So I keep whatever hot take that I've got to myself because why am I going to throw some shade? Like, what's the point? Just for a laugh that's going to last two-and-a-half seconds but could end up really hurting someone's feelings? And that lasts way longer. I feel like a lot of people could benefit from just reading what we're supposed to be telling our children about posting online and just really take that to heart.
It's like, even as a comedian, somebody that works in comedy, it's just so rarely worth the hurt that it can cause another person [when you] take a cheap shot. You know what I mean? It would not be fulfilling to me. I don't want to make someone feel bad. That's not why we're on this Earth, I don't think. So that's what I try to follow.
SK: Was there a time recently that another woman has shown up to support you, and how did that support come about?
BP: When my late-night talk show was announced, I got a lot of emails and texts from people reaching out online, both publicly and privately too. To me, the private reach-outs count just as much as the public reach-outs. So, I know to some people they would prefer it to be public, but you know, I really was sort of floored by the response and certainly by some people in this industry who, you know, I, I didn't know. You just never know how people are going to react. I had people reach out and, surprisingly, not a lot of men; not a lot of men that I've worked with reached out. There were only a couple [of men who] reached out. Kevin Biegel, who was one of the creators of Cougar Town, reached out.
But a lot of women reached out and were like, "Good for you, girl. We're so happy for you and this is so exciting." And, I mean, that really means a lot. I try to show support for all of my friends, no matter what. Like, even if it's something I feel like, "Oh, I wish I had been a part of that" or there's a part of me that feels a little envious that I wasn't a part of it. I still want to show support publicly and personally. I think it's great when people are doing well, and we should all want everyone to do well all the time. I just don't think that's that crazy of a concept, but apparently, it is for some people.
SK: You've spent so much time in the entertainment industry. How have your ideas about self-love and your sense of beauty evolved, especially in this industry, which intensely scrutinizes women?
BP: It's definitely changed. It evolves for every woman. Clearly, you know, it's like not — that's not anything new, but it definitely has been interesting working and essentially sort of growing up, coming of age in my late teens and early 20s and 30s working mostly on television and movies.
I actually write a fair amount about this in my book that is coming out in the fall. I've had periods of time where people have tried to make me less than or have wanted to diminish the parts of me that made me me, both physically and with my personality. To get to a point where I'm at now in my career and my life — where the thing that people have seemingly most responded to in the last two years is really this kind of, you know, unfiltered version of myself — has been really personally empowering.
I think that there's also been a slight shift, and I think it will continue to shift in the industry at large. But I've definitely had my fair share of, "She's not good enough for this role. She's not physically what we want. She's not pretty enough to play this part. She's not —" whatever the case may be. And it's brutal. It's brutal for anyone to feel like that. But then to hear that repeatedly over the years can be really overwhelming.
I think that it's no coincidence, sort of, that we've ended up in this place now where I am being recognized for the things that make me so uniquely me. It feels good.
SK: And finally, you've partnered with Red Baron Pizza for an exciting new campaign. Please tell us more about that.
BP: As a mom of two, I’m definitely always looking for things that I know are easy go-tos that my kids will eat. Red Baron frozen pizza has always been one of them because it's so easy and fast and I knew I could just keep it in the freezer and when all the kids show up, [it's easy to cook] especially in the summer. So, to give moms a break, Red Baron is giving 5,000 families free groceries and delivery from Instacart. You just have to go onto Red Baron's Facebook page and share your parenting war story in order to qualify.
I just think the program is so cool and fun, and I am on board because everybody's got (especially in the summertime) a parenting war story. I've had those moments where I'm a few weeks into summer vacation, and I go to the fridge and I open it and I was like, "Why has no one been to the grocery store? Oh, because I guess that's my job." So, yeah, it's a really great, fun program.
See? Philipps has such an infectiously positive energy, it's tough not get on her level. If anything, we need a perspective like Philipps' in the world right now; thank goodness she's able to share it.