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November 16, 2022 26 mins

Minnie questions Brooke Shields, actress, model, and author. Brooke shares stories of dancing down the beach, finding strength while being alone in the hospital, and a story about a young boy she met that liked her bicycle.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
I'd like it, and you have a great manicure. I'm
keeping my hands out of side like oh I'm and
I'm getting them done today. They're like little, they're good.
You know what. I went to high school in New Jersey.
I know you will. And by the way, that's a
good thing. Like if it shows in your hands that
you grew up in and you went to high school
in New Jersey, that's the right place for it to
show up. Exactly every now and then. I just need

(00:22):
a little dose my Jersey hears. I also have man hands,
so anything anything that makes them look I love your hands.
They're beautiful. Palm of basketball. Yeah, totally. A friend of
mine said he saw my hands, it goes Christ he
goes last time I saw hands that big. They had
a Super Bowl ring on him. Hello, I'm Mini driver.

(00:48):
Welcome to Many Questions Season two. I've always loved Prut's
question that it was originally an nineteenth century harleg game
where players would ask each other thirty five questions aim
at revealing the other player's true nature. It's just the
scientific method really. In asking different people the same set
of questions, you can make observations about which truths appeared

(01:11):
to be universal. I love this discipline, and it made
me wonder, what if these questions were just the jumping
off point, what greater depths would be revealed if I
asked these questions as conversation starters with thought leaders and
trailblazers across all these different disciplines. So I adapted prus
questionnaire and I wrote my own seven questions that I

(01:32):
personally think a pertinent to a person's story. They are
when and where were you happiest? What is the quality
you like least about yourself? What relationship, real or fictionalized,
defines love for you? What question would you most like answered?
What person, place, or experience has shaped you the most?
What would be your last meal? And can you tell

(01:52):
me something in your life that's grown out of a
personal disaster? And I've gathered a group of really arkable people,
ones that I am honored and humbled to have had
the chance to engage with. You may not hear their
answers to all seven of these questions. We've whittled it
down to which questions felt closest to their experience or

(02:13):
the most surprising, or created the most fertile ground to
connect my guest today is actor, author, entrepreneur, and model Brookshields.
Brooke evolved from Child's superstar to Princeton alum to having
a successful career in TV, and I don't think many

(02:35):
people have negotiated four decades of being in the spotlight
with such grace and humor. It was an absolute pleasure
to have this conversation, and I'm really happy to share
her insightful answers to my big questions. I do want
to point out in the first minute or so of
the third question of the episode, Brook discusses a friend

(02:55):
of hers who took their own life. So take care
while listening, and please feel free to give a had
if you so choose, When and why were you happiest.
I have to say that I remember one specific moment.

(03:16):
I had just gotten married to Chris. I had gone
to New York to do cabaret and nine eleven happened
and he couldn't get to me. I obviously couldn't get
out of New York. And it was this very fraught
period of time, and we were the first show to
go back, and everything was just fraught and scary and sad.

(03:39):
And when my run ended, I went back to Los
Angeles and we went to someone's house in Malibu and
the weather was perfect, and I walked down to the
beach and I just started dancing, just free dancing. My
husband was my new husband. My mom wasn't either in

(04:00):
jail or in the hospital, and I was I wasn't
getting a phone call like that. That's I lived in that.
You know, Oh my god, at any moment, something's going
to happen. She had been was in a facility where
she was taken care of, so I didn't have to
worry about her. And I just started dancing up and
down like an idiot on the beach, and I just
remember thinking, this is freedom, this is happy, and it's

(04:25):
funny because I don't particularly love l a and you know,
I didn't have a job normally that makes me panic,
and I had just finished a job and I was
so depleted physically and emotionally. But to just be able
to feel the breeze and have my feet in the
water and just dance down the beach, it was I

(04:47):
just remember thinking, Wow, this is a gift. Remember this,
because this is what peaceful feels like. Oh my gosh,
how that's quite. I'm just going back to a sentence
that you said that, you know, I was feeling good.
My mom wasn't in jail, and she was taken care of.
Like just the thought that you know that that's a
barometer for a person in their life is quite intense. Well,

(05:11):
that she she wasn't on the side of the road.
She wasn't she hadn't just had a stroke. She hadn't.
It was like everything in my life had been gauged
around her being alive, and the responsibility that was mine
in my mind to keep her alive. I mean the
irony of also that is my version of finding peace

(05:34):
and joy has to have come from nine eleven. That's
what I was just, that was it. That was My
next question was is happiness predicated on this idea that
really hard things have to have happened before you can
feel that freedom and allow yourself to feel happy. Earn it?

(05:56):
It's like I have to have earned it. Where that
come from is so so deep. It's probably the alcoholic mother.
It's a child actress from such a young age. And
what I did was I crafted things that I knew
would be there for me in spite of being an

(06:16):
actress or famous or a celebrity or whatever whatever, And
I knew that I needed to go to university. I
knew that I needed to find my husband that was grounded,
that we could build a life that had healthy children.
That it was not on the West Coast. There were
sort of these markers, but actual just relief and joy

(06:42):
just always seemed that it would only it could only
be possible after drama, trauma, lots of pain, lots of
hard work. And that's from my own psyche, you know,
interesting like I think that's why I asked this question,
because I think it is such a tub in an
interesting wit area, this notion of happiness. When I'm happy,

(07:02):
there is a period of enormous anxiety because I am
absolutely certain that something bad has to happen because I'm
happy and I can't last. But so maybe all we
can do is literally know that about ourselves. I don't know,
I've been well. I feel like I've been working on
that particular thing, like my whole life, I think, so
I think I have to. I mean, that's why I
sort of had this other checklist, so that I could

(07:25):
at least say like, no, no, no, no, that's you're
happy there. Yeah, you love your children, children love you.
I I feel like there's going to be a price
to pay, yeah, for being happy, and then it's inevitable
that it can't last. I think that's trauma. I really
think that has all the hallmarks of trauma, just in
the therapy I've done, all the books that I've read.

(07:47):
The idea that there must be payment for it comes
from a young person's mind of going these bad things
happened because I was happy, or the norm is the
hard things happening. But I do think it's associated with trauma.
I mean, I remember that every time I would have
a a plan that we were excited about, I never

(08:07):
believed it was really going to happen because it would
change because I'd get a job, and so I sort
of lived in this sort of like just be at
the ready all the time because you're just going to
have to spring into action in some way. And you know,
that's also I think the trauma of living with an
alcoholic mother is that you never know really what you're

(08:29):
going to get, what you're going to get, and how
long the good part is going to last. You know,
I used to say, I wrote this in my book.
I said, you know, I remember saying to my mom
once I wish I just only knew you in the mornings,
because in the morning hours she was peppy and up
and we would get our coffee and our role with

(08:50):
butter and we laughed. I mean, and by the time
three o'clock came, I knew. I'd look at I'd look
at the way her lipstick looked, and I thought, oh God, okay,
it's already hitting the sauce. So let's see, let's see
what's let's see what's going to unfold. And I think
you're always living at the ready and doing to the
movie like Pretty Baby. When I was was just trauma.

(09:16):
Even as a child, I knew that you were going
to have to somehow survive that beginning. I knew that
you were going to make it out the other side.
I remember just being so impressed knowing you and knowing
just how warm and generous and interesting and interested you
are in life. When I think about the impact of that,
your image in advertising and in the movies, like it

(09:39):
was so kind of it was so iconic and distant,
but I never forget. It's so funny. I really always
from I always remember when you went to school. I
always remember hearing that and really feeling like there's something
else beyond being appreciated for how beautiful or but how
marketable or how big a movie star someone is. That
there is this there's this other world, and it felt

(10:01):
it felt important to remember that. I mean, I think
I knew that I in order for me to be
whole and to survive, but really survive, like thrive na survive,
you know. I remember thinking this will be the one
thing that can't be taken away from you. I thought
I was going to be heralded and welcomed back into

(10:25):
this industry, that I was not only an actress, but
I was now in an religion actor, I was a scholar.
And that clearly was not the way it happened. But
I remember thinking, if I don't cultivate my intellect and
have it be a tool for me, I'm not sure
I'm emotionally prepared to continue in the spotlight in this world.

(10:51):
I needed something that was just mine. And of course
the whole industry took it as a threat. I was,
all of a sudden threatening to them exactly. Yeah, so
that's what is interesting. What is the quality that you

(11:18):
like least about yourself? Oh that my insecurities surrounding my
talent still pop up that I still pine for recognition,
for actual talent. It's still a journey that I have

(11:39):
to go through to not compare myself and say, but
do they think you're talented? I'm in these meetings, I'm
a CEO, I'm I'm all of this, I'm my phrase children.
I have to remind myself daily that I am good enough.
Do you think there's two things going on, which is
sort of the external impact of it and the way
that you're so think about it. I think it is

(12:03):
most definitely too prompt. I think that from a very
early age, I was so constantly criticized. Oh my god,
I thought you were going to say. I was so
constantly told how great I was, and it was on
such a public level, and everything had a disclaimer, not
but she's pretty, But it was always sort of, well,

(12:25):
she's not a vocal powerhouse. If I was singing work,
she's no somebody. And then they'll pick the person who
just won the Academy Award or somebody. And you know,
every time I had an interview, you could feel the tone.
And I was so young, and then later on I
read all of it and I was so raked over
the coals for for not being talented that it was.

(12:48):
It was always sort of like, she doesn't have to
be because she can just look that way. And that's
also why I wanted to go to university, is because
I thought I'm so much more than all of this.
When I was invited two purely do comedy, that was
the first time that I ever really understood where my

(13:10):
talent was unique. And it was so natural to me.
I mean, you know, comedic actresses are not as sort
of brilliantly praised the way drama is. And and that's
you know, it's fine. That is not something I covet doing.
The purity and comedy to me is just is where
I find a great deal of joy. There was a
movie on the other night and it was a comedy

(13:30):
with two women, and my kids were watching it, and
I had loved the movie, and I started going down
the rabbit hole saying, my kids don't know that I
can do that, And all of a sudden, this was
like this insecurity just wafted over me, and I thought, Okay,
you have got to get your ship together. I don't
know why you're doing this, but I think you're right.

(13:51):
I think a lot of that comes from trauma from childhood.
This profession being an actor is there were just so
many schisms in it, like faulted people make really good actors.
It's like we're trying to fill a bit of a void.
And it's not enough that you think you're good. It's

(14:11):
not enough that one can sort of self generate. You
have to have other people also during the kool aid.
Like I said in my book, I said, it's not
you know, you're not expected to win the lottery once
you're expected to win it over and over again, and
then you're also punished when you don't win the fucking lottery.
Even though I didn't have the same experience of you,

(14:32):
I was not a child actor or model or icon,
but that same feeling of whereas the next job, if
no one's hiring me, your self worth can be around
your feet if you let it. It's endemic in this
in this industry as well. I mean, it's funny because
I used to to say, I mean I would I
went to the Academy Awards when I was a baby.

(14:55):
That was just nirvana to me, and I coveted it.
I coveted it, covered it, covered it, and finally my
therapist said she's like why and I said, you know why,
because of other opportunity And that's all it was about
for me. Really, someone would probably want you to do
another movie, and you feel like, yes, do another reacy

(15:17):
that that never goes that that never goes away. I mean,
I'm sure there are people for whom it does. I
don't think Tilda Swinton is worrying about like her next No.
I think it's very hard to carve it out there,
like if you've got to make a living. I don't know.
I've spoken to more actors who feel this way, and
then I think there are these these creature like bird

(15:39):
like anomalies who who can who can kind of apparently
conjure it out of nowhere. I've always had to be basically,
I've always been a brand, you know. I've always been
right nurturing something so that we could pay our mortgage,
or if you did this movie, we got a car.
Everything was basically transactional. So there was never a plan

(16:02):
to to concentrate on craft. You know. My mother, I mean,
she wasn't a manager. She just she was like like,
as long as they're talking about you keep your right
and that was okay. Because I got very rewarded for it.
I was liked and I went to a good school.
So to me, it was just how do you make
a living just being you? Yeah, that's that's that's exactly,

(16:26):
That's exactly it. That has always been my approach as well.
What question would you most like answered? Oh, the ones
that we've loved to have died, Where where do they go?

(16:47):
Where are they? I lost my best friend. He was
sort of just like an extension of me. And when
you lose someone like that, so so young, and he
took his own life and I can't reconcile it to
this day, you know, and it's you know, twenty years ago,
and those are the answers I would just love to know,

(17:08):
you know, and have it be beautiful. I just want
to know that they're okay. I mean, you know what
I mean, like, yeah, I want to know that he
doesn't regret his decision. I never was afraid of death
until recently. For some odd reason, I had a youthful

(17:31):
attitude about it. Just live every day with gratitude, I
really do, and I I can find joy. I mean,
you know, it was spiking and there was a little
boy with a nanny I think, and their dog and
she was walking him too a playdate or something like that,
and he stopped and he said hi, and he must
have been like five six, and I could tell that

(17:54):
the nanny was trying to shuffle him away, but he
was very forward and wanted to engage and talk with me,
and of course I stopped and I engaged with him,
and I said, look to look at this color of
this bike. It's yellow, and isn't it a pretty color? Yellow?
And he's like, we're going to Frenchie's house or something
like that, and I said, oh, that's wonderful. I said,
you just have the best time. I don't know his name,

(18:17):
I didn't know anybody that we're all strangers, and he said,
you have nice like time, and I was like, I
just thanked him, and I went on my way and
I started crying. I was like like a blubbering idiot
because it was so pure. I find such joy, and

(18:37):
then in recent times I've started to fear losing it.
Everything is moving so quickly and you just start thinking,
oh God, I'm gonna I'm gonna die one day, you know.
And I didn't plan for this, and I'm bugging on yeah,

(18:57):
facing my mortality when I really just want to be
having interactions with small, pure little kids. Have spy time,
have nice by time, don't die have The irony would
have been I got hit by a truck, right, that's

(19:17):
all right? Turned away. The nanny would have been the
only person who could recount the story. Oh my god,
she would have moved on in your life, what person, place,

(19:43):
or experience most altered it. I had a very bad
accident just over a year ago. I was in hospital
for a month and I got a staph infection and
a blood clos and nobody could visit me because it
was COVID. I think it was the most alone I'd

(20:06):
ever felt, and I was really scared, and I realized
that I just was so much more of a fighter
and a survivor than I probably ever really gave myself
credit for. And it's when I decided full on to
start my own company and sort of create this movement

(20:26):
for women over forty and really sort of harness that
energy to make a difference for women. It just felt like, Okay,
he didn't die, so what are you gonna do now?
I mean, I'm so sorry that you were hurt. It's
so interesting how to look at that, like when you've
had a kind of near death experience, and yet out

(20:48):
of that comes this clarity and this decision and this
strength and this idea of what this next chapter is
going to be. I think only thing that I could
do was learn how to walk. And I had to
learn how to walk again, which was so bizarre. I
had to tell my brain to tell my leg to

(21:09):
keep to move and and I thought, Okay, you're gonna
walk faster than anybody has ever walked with this injury.
You know. I made them give me p T twice
a day. And it was funny because people, lots of
people were like, why do you think it happened? You know,
were you moving to my life? Did you need to
find more gratitude? I was like, no, sh it happens.

(21:30):
It was an accident. The accident itself didn't come from
the universe to slow me down in my pursuits or whatever.
It just happened. But how I responded to it was
going to be the defining factor. It was just an
important time. I mean, I remember one other when I

(21:53):
lost my first child. I lost a lot of my
my youthfulness. That next day, like by that next day.
I remember thinking, oh, you're an adult. Now you're you're different.
How old we when that happened. I was thirty one,

(22:15):
and you know, I immediately went to my fault. Of course,
it had to be my fault, and it was really
important for me to learn that it's actually an unviable pregnancy,
that is nature taking care of that for you. I
didn't take too many yoga classes or I didn't didn't
do anything wrong. You know, it wasn't a fault of mine,

(22:35):
and that was kind of that. I grew up a
lot from that um. But this last, this last sort
of experience just sort of brought me into my next chapter.
I I mean, I think that actually answers one of
my other questions is in your life, can you tell
me about something that has grown out of a personal disaster?

(22:56):
And I think that that would be the loss. Yeah,
well both actually well also when I lost that first baby,
I had had a very very invasive surgery years earlier
and actually couldn't even get pregnant naturally, had to do
IVF and that baby was implanted through my belly button.

(23:17):
Actually it's odd I could argue I was still a virgin.
I guess but so that was the pregnancy that took
and then I lost that pregnancy. But in the loss
of it, it actually changed my physical being in a way.
I had a lot of scar tissue, and the miscarriage

(23:39):
was sort of so violent that it actually created space
so that I was able to then get pregnant naturally.
You know, that was definitely a change in a gift.
So you don't always know the reason for things that quickly.
That's really really amazing. I've talked about it a little

(24:01):
bit on here, that I was told I couldn't have children,
like flat out when I was eighteen, so just it
was never it was never something I thought was going
to happen. So when I when I got pregnant, it
was so interesting, like wondering whether it was the psychosomatic
idea of you know, this old patrician doctor who had

(24:21):
said you're never gonna get pregnant, or whether there was
something physiological as I grew old, or just your things
move around and change. I mean, you had something, you
had an actual you know, surgery which which helped it.
But I wondered so much about that. We just put
a lot of emotional judgment on on all these things.

(24:42):
That happen in life. But it's really just life, life thing.
It is just life. We always want to find meaning
and yeah, the poetry in it and and sometimes it's
just it just is. You know, I think it just is.
I think life just life's and you you kind touched
whatever meaning you choose to all of it. It's amazing

(25:03):
to me, Like all these things that have happened to you,
I think you've been blessed with a really big life,
big hands, big life, Brook grabbing it in, grabbing, grab
onto it like a bed, really iconic Koala. You can

(25:26):
hear more from Brooke on her podcast Now What with
Brookshields from My Heart Radio, Brook interviews guests about the
most pivitual moments in their life. Previous guests include Patton
Oswald and Gina Davis, with new episodes released every Tuesday.
Also be sure to check out Beginning is Now, which
is a global community Brook started for women over forty

(25:48):
to celebrate strength, wisdom, optimism, and humor in each other.
Find out more at the Beginning is now dot com.
Many Questions is hosted and written by me Mini Driver,
supervising producer Aaron Kaufman, producer Morgan Lavoy Research Assistant Marissa Brown.

(26:11):
Original music Sorry Baby by Minni Driver, Additional music by
Aaron Kaufman. Executive produced by me Mini Driver. Special thanks
to Jim Nikolay, Will Pearson, Addison No Day, Lisa Castella
and Nick Oppenheim at w kPr, de La Pescador, Kate

(26:33):
Driver and Jason Weinberg, and for constantly solicited tech support
Henry Driver,
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