Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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Anna Kendrick Gives Us Yet Another Reason to Love Her

The holiday countdown has begun, and what better way to celebrate than with perennial girl crush (and ELLE’s July 2014 cover star) Anna Kendrick?
In her latest ad for Kate Spade New York, a video spot called “The Waiting Game,” the Academy Award nominee gets locked out of her NYC apartment with enviable schwag in tow. While she waits for a pal to bring her a key, we’re treated to a chic serving of Kendrick’s dry wit, Christmas caroling skills, and a peek at key pieces from the Kate Spade New York holiday collection. (Also keep an eye out for fashion icon Iris Apfel, who makes a cameo as Kendrick’s neighbor.)
The ad is the latest installment from Kendrick’s partnership with the brand, which chose her as the face of holiday 2014. But this isn't the last you'll see of the Pitch Perfect star: In September, she'll act as the film muse for their “Year of Adventure” campaign.
“Anna embodies the Kate Spade New York spirit in so many ways,” says Deborah Lloyd, president and chief creative officer of Kate Spade New York. “She is beautiful, smart, hilarious, and wildly talented.”
You can catch Kendrick next in Rob Marshall's adaptation of Into the Woods, co-starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, which hits theaters December 25. Until then, check out “The Waiting Game” on YouTube.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why Brooke Shields Chose Honesty Over Looking Good in Her New Memoir

Photo: Courtesy of Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields’ mother and former manager, Teri, died in 2012. Shortly after her death, The New York Times published an obituary that Brooke found appalling. “The obituary’s author highlighted—completely out of context—the most salacious facts and quotes,” Shields writes in her new memoir, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me. Indeed, the opening sentence of the obit nearly implies that Teri Shields was a pimp because she “allowed [Brooke] to be cast as a child prostitute in the 1978 film Pretty Baby.” Shields, who had a complicated and enmeshed relationship with her mom, was inspired to write this memoir so that the world could get a less biased picture of Teri.
Yet, this is not a sanitized, shiny, happy portrait of Shield’s coming of age. She is completely frank about how difficult it was to grow up with an alcoholic mother. Teri managed Brooke’s career while she was a child and teen actress and model, and their relationship was incredibly close, but it could also be stifling and dysfunctional. At the same time, Shields also makes clear that her mother was a fighter with a great sense of humor. When the Catholic priest who was baptizing Brooke said that she couldn’t be christened with that name because there were no saints called “Brooke,” her mother responded, “Well, put an a at the end of Christ. Is that Catholic enough for ya?” And thus she became Brooke Christa Shields.
Shields is also forthcoming about some of her romantic relationships with fellow celebrities, much more so than the usual celebrity memoirist is. She discusses her first love, Dean Cain, and the dissolution to her marriage with Andre Agassi, who had been secretly addicted to crystal meth for the whole first part of their relationship. There’s even a darkly funny tidbit about Agassi blowing up during the filming of Shields’ guest spot on the Super Bowl episode of Friends, in which she played Joey’s stalker. As she tells it, he stormed off the set because:
“[Agassi] said I made him look like a fool by licking Joey’s fingers, and he got in his car and drove all the way back to Vegas. Upon arrival he systematically smashed and destroyed every single trophy he had won, including Wimbledon and the US Open, never mind all the others.”
ELLE.com spoke to Shields about the exerience of writing about her complicated relationship with her mom, what she’s learned about how to be a parent herself, and what it was like to grow up in the spotlight.
Photo: Courtesy of Brooke Shields
Was this book hard to write? Did you ever feel like you were reliving some of the more painful moments with your mom as you wrote it?
I think the hardest part of writing the book was probably due to how, as you mature and do work on yourself, your narrative changes, your impression of your life changes. So the experiences were as they were, but my own experience of them has definitely changed over the years. The hardest part was trying to find the hybrid without being weak, or one-sided. Just reconciling that and being truthful was probably the trickiest.
Were there any particular moments that you had a new response to?
As a child I was always just moving on to the next thing. Anything that happened, if it was good or bad, it was over. But I think that I have more empathy for myself now. I never felt bad for myself as a kid, and I never let anything slow me down. So I look back and I am surprised, I don’t think I ever understood my own resilience through it all.
You did such an amazing service to women who went through postpartum depression with your first memoir, Down Came the Rain. I became depressed during my pregnancy, and your book helped me tremendously. With writing this book, was there ever the idea that you would also be able to help children of alcoholics? Or did you just want to get your story out there?
I didn’t set out, even with my postpartum book, to affect people. I’m not a doctor or an educator per se, so I didn’t set out to say 'I’m gonna make the difference for people,' because I just don’t think you can do that, just like I don’t think you can set out to make iconic photos. I think my first book just hit at a particular time when not many people were talking about postpartum depression. Every single story is so individual, and I really did not want any of it to in any way seem like I was trying to help people or teach them or seem like I’m on a high horse.
Or somehow be a spokesperson for other people.
I think it’s a bit arrogant to think of yourself as a spokesperson anyway, unless that is your vocation. However, in reading my new book—which by the way I did not do until the first whole draft was done, because I didn’t want to self monitor—I saw themes in it that might be relevant to other people. So, you don’t have to have been an actress at a young age, you don’t have to…I mean, yes, the alcoholic piece will probably be the most identifiable, but anyone who has had a co-dependence or a unique but fraught relationship with a parent, I think they will be able to find things through this and be able to say, 'Oh, I’m not so alone. Oh wow, she went through it and she did it in that world, I’m going through it and I’m doing it in this world.'
Photo: Courtesy of Brooke Shields
Since you’re a mother yourself, what are some of the positive things from your mother’s parenting that you think about when you’re parenting your children? I know you write about some of the things that you were trying to get away from, but I wondered if there were happier things that influenced you, too.
Oh absolutely, and that’s what makes our relationship so complicated. It’d be so much easier if I was just filled with anger or hate or resentment, but I’m filled with this sense of gratitude and her humor is a big piece of it. My mom’s humor, and her willingness to look silly and not to take herself seriously and her sort of ambition with regards to not letting someone beat you down or take no for an answer, those are the kinds of things that I have maintained throughout my life and those are the kinds of things I try to impart to my children.
I think there’s always both. Today, I told my kids a story about looking people in the eye, and as I was walking them to school it triggered this memory of my mother telling me the power of looking someone in the eye and claiming your space. I made it funny rather than try to make it this serious life lesson, because when I try to go down that road they become deaf. Which they do anyway; they don’t even recognize my name!
I’ve read a lot of celebrity memoirs and I was pleasantly surprised at how honest you were about your past relationships with other famous people. What encouraged you to be so frank about them?
I tried to be as honest throughout all of it, and if that means I don’t look that good at times, that was worth it. But what I never wanted to do was attack anybody else that I had any type of relationship with, because the book is not to attack them. Yes, people may think it’s fun or an interesting fact or juicy, but the intent was never—I have no reason to drag anyone through anything and try to make them look bad.
However, there’s a lot of power in being honest. And again, the book was about my mother, if a relationship somehow—and most of them did—fall within that context, which was almost every relationship I had until later years, it was how that relationship that I had with this man or that man was affected by my relationship with her. But it didn’t occur to me to be anything less than honest, but I had no hidden agenda to attack other people.
If someone came up to you and said, “My child wants to be an actress,” what advice would you give them about how to parent somebody through that?
Well, the business today is so very different than it was when I was a child. To be quite honest, I’m not sure I would know how to navigate it, as a mother or as a child today because the input is different, the exposure is different, the morals are different, so there’s a very—I don’t even know if I could survive this decade of it.
There was still somehow a naiveté, there was still somehow an innocence, and you didn’t have all the access that we do now to peoples' private lives. That being said, I was very much put in the public eye from the time I was a child. Even my orthodontist appointments were filmed!
But the key is, listen, you’ve gotta have good people around you, you’ve gotta get a good education, you’ve gotta have parents who don’t see dollar signs as more important than the degree, and those are things that just go back to the basics.
So had my mom said 'Sure, fine give her the high school equivalency test,' and saying, 'we could even get a really smart person to fill it out for you, and we’re going to live in LA..' who knows how my life would have turned out? I’m not so sure. I went to school and I never missed it for work. I never went to a professional children’s school, that lets you out every time you had an audition or a go-see. So I would tell people the same thing, though I’m not sure what I would tell mothers today that they would want to hear.
Photo: Chris Henchy
I think that’s such a great point about the amount of access or exposure young actors have today. Someone can tweet your location at any moment, and it just seems incredibly invasive and scary for a child to have to go through.
My daughter was talking to me today about how she can’t wait to go a bat mitzvah that she’s going to because she can’t wait to take pictures at this party and put them on social media. And a) she doesn’t even have the password to her social media. I control the password, and I am considered one of the stricter moms. And I was thinking to myself, this is a party to celebrate a friend and they are already talking about something that’s going to happen in the future that they want the world to see. I mean she doesn’t have a public profile, she’s not a public person, but still, just the desire for that type of access to your personal life, it’s just so hard for me to reconcile that. And in some ways the world had access to my personal life from the time I was born, basically.