The mom of two chats about her new kids' book, her defeat of depression, and her husband, who's so funny, he's to die for.
Sun Mar 22 2009
Lots of actors claim they were born to perform, but few can make as good a case for it as Brooke Shields. After making her professional debut in an ad for Ivory Soap at age 11 months, she went on to become a coveted model and actress, equally scandalous and seductive in her racy Calvin Klein commercial (“You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing”) and as a child prostitute in Louis Malle’s film Pretty Baby. Unlike many child stars, Shields made a smooth transition to adult roles (after taking four years off to complete her undergraduate degree at Princeton), going on to star on the sitcom Suddenly Susan and headline a number of Broadway musicals. But her most successful project to date has been out of the spotlight, raising daughters Rowan, almost 6, and Grier, 3, with her writer-producer husband, Chris Henchy. Now more role model than supermodel, the down-to-earth actor gave us the inside scoop on ways she keeps her family grounded in the city, her upcoming projects and the hobby that everyone makes fun of her for.
Your new children’s book, It’s the Best Day Ever, Dad!, is so cute. Is it modeled after your own family?
Oh, it practically is our family! [My two girls] do all of that with [their dad]. He knows how hard it is for us mothers. He’s always like, “I’ll take them! You sleep in,” or “You go and do something with your girlfriends.” He’s not afraid of one-on-one time with them. When [publisher HarperCollins] originally reached out to me, I thought that they wanted me to come up with some sort of character. But they actually wanted me to write about my family—with two little girls as the main characters. It became a sweet way for me to pay tribute to them without exploiting them.
This is your second kids’ book, after 2008’s Welcome to Your World, Baby. Do you plan on writing more?
If [Harper Collins] asks me to, definitely. On the last page of It’s the Best Day Ever, Dad! it looks like they’re going to the beach, so it’s sort of asking for a sequel.
You were born in Manhattan. Did you grow up here?
Yep! Born and raised. I never lived anywhere else except for when I was working on Suddenly Susan. I still had my place in New York but commuted [to L.A.]. I have never not lived here.
What are some of your favorite NYC spots?
I’m such a diehard! P.J. Clarke’s is my favorite. I used to be uptown; then I made that big move to lower Manhattan. I feel much freer down here, happier. I love going uptown, though, since a lot of my friends and relatives are up there. I honestly just love walking the streets of New York. I feel more at home here than anywhere else.
Where do your girls like to go in the city?
They love the parks. They’re obsessed with Chelsea Piers—the ice-skating, the gymnastics, the soccer. They are so active. They also love the Children’s Museum of the Arts.
You’ve appeared in a number of Broadway musicals. Do you long to get back on the boards?
Absolutely. I think about it practically every day. My only prerequisite now is that I want to originate a role, rather than replace another actress. I’m just ready to be with a show from the beginning.
Are your daughters interested in going into showbiz, and how would you feel about them being in a film like Pretty Baby?
Times are different. I won’t let my children join the industry until they’ve graduated from college. They need a degree, and then at that point I’ll help them do whatever they want. An education is something that can’t be taken away from them. Like all little girls, there is a theatrical element to them. They love singing and dancing and all of that, but I don’t think they have that hankering [to be in the business]. They know I work so hard, and they wouldn’t have the patience!
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