Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler on NYC, her costars and more
The comedy icon and Parks and Recreation star talks about the show’s new season and what she misses most about New York City.
Tue Jul 9 2013
Photograph: Dale May
Time Out New York: What do you think would be Leslie’s favorite New York park?
Amy Poehler: Central Park. I think she would marvel at the foresight that New Yorkers had to carve out that prime real estate. She would just talk incessantly about how the park is in the middle of the priciest part of the world, almost, and it still remains a park.
Time Out New York: What about you? Any favorite parks?
Amy Poehler: Because I have little boys, I tend to like the local parks that are near my house—a lot of the West Village parks, because they’re kid-friendly. It’s a great place to bring them. The little hideaway places that you stumble onto as you live in the city are more my style, because I’m more of a downtown gal. They’re not perfect, and that’s why they’re great.
Time Out New York: You’re raising two little boys here; do you think NYC is a good place for people with kids?
Amy Poehler: Oh, for sure. I think it’s the best city to live in with kids. My kids learn more on the walk from our house to the deli than they do driving around all day. They see so many different people, they ask so many questions, they interact with so many different types of people. They’re so stimulated and energized.
Time Out New York: So I watched, like, seven or eight episodes of Smart Girls at the Party yesterday, and I loved it.
Amy Poehler: [Laughs] Great!
Time Out New York: What have you learned from interviewing young girls for the series?
Amy Poehler: I usually come away from those interviews feeling really inspired. Any time you talk to anyone about something that they love, they’re, like, their most beautiful. It’s a cool gift to get to talk to people about what they love. And I’ve also learned that there’s a big difference between 12 and 13. [Laughs] Twelve-year-olds don’t mind when their moms dance with them at the dance party, and 13-year-olds do.
Time Out New York: Your Ask Amy video series, where you answer questions about life and young girls’ problems, has become really popular, even with people who aren’t necessarily the target audience. Why do you think that is?
Amy Poehler: It’s kind of like a fantasy, to be able to go back to our younger selves and tell them simple things, like: Be yourself, or: Don’t waste so much time on him. All those things you can’t learn until you learn them on your own. That fight to not be self-conscious is a lifelong fight; to do what you want and not worry about other people, or just to feel good…that doesn’t go away, certainly not at 20 or 30 or 40. Maybe 50? [Laughs] I’ll tell you at 50.
Time Out New York: You answer really intimate questions in the series—how do you keep it from getting too personal for yourself?
Amy Poehler: I just think it’s because I’m older. I don’t think I would have known how to do it when I was younger. Age helps you a little with that; you learn how to share without oversharing, or you get better at connecting without walking away and not feeling like you’ve been too vulnerable. But all the questions are questions we can all relate to, like “I’m scared,” “I wanna be loved,” “I’m afraid,” “Can I do it?”—all of those things that do not go away no matter how old you get. [Laughs]
Time Out New York: Both Smart Girls and Ask Amy are about empowering young women, and feminism informs so much of what you do. Has that always been your intention?
Amy Poehler: It’s always just been in my nature—it’s just kind of my everyday. Sometimes I access it in a conscious way, but it wasn’t always the headline of stuff that I was doing. We just had Gloria Steinem do ASSSSCAT, which was so great. [Musician and activist] Kathleen Hanna came, and I’m just a huge Kathleen Hanna fan. She, for me, was closer in age and a practicing and working feminist, at the time, that I related to. When I was in my late twenties and thirties, there were these amazing female musicians, like PJ Harvey and Björk and Kim Gordon.… These musicians are all still around, but, I mean, they were the most popular musicians! Just constant, really interesting women; sex wasn’t their currency, but they were really sexy and sexual. I gave you a long-winded answer. [Laughs] So the answer is: Yes, I consider myself a feminist, and it informs my work only in that it’s just who I am, in the same way that I’m a woman, or I’m 5'2" or whatever. I was lucky that I came through a system that had many people who did much more hard work and road-clearing before I got there.
Time Out New York: You have your hands in so many projects—acting, producing, memoir-writing, etc. Is there anything you haven’t tried yet that you would love to do?
Amy Poehler: So much! I’d love to direct something that I wrote. I’d like to produce a film. There are so many things in the show-business world I’d like to do, for sure. Own a jet, fly over to my network that I created and live off the sustainable farm that I planted myself. I’d like to ease into being a leader of some kind of cult as I get older. I want to secede from reality and go live on a farm. [Laughs]
Time Out New York: I interviewed Nick Offerman a few months ago and he mentioned how after his one-man show, he feels like he’s helping start a very polite cult.
Amy Poehler: Well, Offerman and I would be great “mama” and “daddy” of a cult. He would do all of the hard work and I would be good at keeping up morale. I’m sure there’d be some sexual favors expected out of both of us, and like the good middle-class workers that we are, we’d put our heads down and get the job done. [Laughs] When all the shit goes down and the world’s about to end, Offerman would be a guy I’d want by my side.
The sixth season of Parks and Recreation premieres Sept 26. Ask Amy can be found at youtube.com/smartgirls.
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