Who better than hilarious straight-talking Busy Philipps to emcee our ninth-annual Fashion Media Awards last Saturday?! We hopped on Zoom with the multihyphenate before the show to talk about fashion, her must-listen podcast, and find out what made her finally become a New Yorker.
You’ve always been on our dream list to host the Fashion Media Awards!
Thank you! The fashion crowd is intimidating, but I think it’s becoming less so. It feels like there’s been a bit of a democratization of fashion in the past couple of years.
For sure! So you’re living in New York City now. What brought you back?
I’ve actually never lived here! A series of events brought us, including the pandemic. We [daughters Birdie Leigh and Cricket Pearl] were taking a break from Los Angeles when Tina Fey called me in September 2020 and asked me if I wanted to stay and do this TV show, Girls5eva. We stayed and it kind of snowballed—our kids love it and are thriving. The past few years have put things into perspective and asked all of us how we want to live our lives and what does that look like.
Welcome to New York then! Have you ever been to New York Fashion Week?
I’ve been to the truncated versions since I’ve lived here. I went last year to Ulla Johnson and to my friend Christian Siriano’s show, who I adore. He has been dressing me for many years. It was fun!
Women love Christian. What is it about him that you love?
His loyalty and his desire to make beautiful things for everybody. Fashion has always been intimidating to people like myself who vary in size and shape, which is normal for women. There were few designers when I started out who I felt like I could go to. A lot of the feedback in the early days was, “Have you heard about this doctor on the West Side who gives you a shot and you lose weight?” That’s a long way of saying Christian’s inclusivity and goal of wanting to facilitate anyone who wants to wear beautiful things.
Are you still working with stylist Karla Welch?
Always. Karla was the first stylist I worked with on a photo shoot. I’ve been doing this for a million years, because actors didn’t have stylists unless you were Julia Roberts. I had been traumatized in my early career by photo shoots and styling—showing up and having all the clothes not fit and feeling like there was something inherently wrong with me and my body. From my first experience with Karla, everything fit and I wanted to wear it. That was maybe 14 years ago. Erica Cloud, who was Karla’s assistant, also styled me for [my talk show] Busy Tonight, which was a real coup.
Have you ever thought about doing a fashion collaboration with a brand?
Yes, I would love to. I’m interested in sustainable clothing and being mindful of what the future of fabrics could be.
We love your podcast, Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best!
It started during the pandemic with the idea that Caissie [St. Onge] and I would tell each other and our listeners what we were doing our best at that week, to give ourselves a little credit for how we’ve been moving through the world. We’ve done 100-plus episodes and had people on such as David Letterman, Rosie O’Donnell, Tina Fey, and her husband, Jeff Richman. We ask every guest if they thought their life was going one way, but then the rug was pulled out from under them and something else emerged, and how that panned out for them. Everybody has those stories.
You were recently arrested at an abortion rights protest in DC. What was that experience like?
I wrote about it extensively on our newsletter, which is an off-shoot of the podcast. For me, it was an easy decision to make to put myself out there in that way so that attention will continue to be paid to what’s happening to the rights of people in this country and bodily autonomy and reproduction and abortion. I’m going to consider it a badge of honor to have shmutz on the bottom of my white Rachel Comey jeans. I’ve tried to get it off, but I can’t!
As people in the public eye, there are times in life where you have an opportunity to use your platform to shed light on things that are important, to point people in the right direction of the activists and the grassroots organizations that are doing the work and amplify their message. I’m always open and willing to do that.What else do you have lined up for the fall?I have some writing that I’m working on. I’m trying to figure out exactly what I want to do next in terms of acting versus other things. Acting is a hard thing for me. I love it, but the industry that surrounds it is tricky for me to want to subject myself to. That being said, you always go back for more. I have to get my kids back to school. I’m exhausted! Their break was too long! We don’t have anyone regularly help us out with the kids. It’s f**king hard.
Final question, and it’s random! Do people mess up the spelling of your last name all the time?
All the time!
Does that annoy you?
It only annoys me because I’m like, “Why did my family do that?” Back in the day when they came over to this country. Take the spelling that everyone else had guys! I don’t understand. It’s not terribly annoying, though.