If you’ve got a few hours—or are hunkering down for Winter Storm Jonas—add Chelsea Handler’s new Netflix series of four documentaries Chelsea Does to your queue. In each of the episodes, which became available all at once today (Jan. 23), the comedian immerses herself in one of four challenging topics: marriage, Silicon Valley, racism, and drugs.
“I’m excited for people to see these documentaries, because I loved all four of them in different ways,” she told us at the Sundance Film Festival, just hours before her series premiered to a crowd at the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street in Park City. “I loved the process and loved being completely out of my comfort zone and do something that I have no business doing. This represents the next phase of my career, which I want to be more thoughtful, but still me—stupid but more thoughtful.”
But to get to this place that she calls “a little more grown up,” she had to completely change direction. She quit her E! talk show and spent time away from the spotlight. What did she learn? That it’s never too late to change your life, she told us during our Sundance sit-down. Below, she reveals how to do it.
Hate to feel scared? Too bad.
“Fear is a great motivator. If you’re scared of something, then jump in. That’s how I’ve always felt. For me, being complacent or just coasting, just because I was getting a big check, was no way to live my life. I don’t want to ever be an example of something that I wouldn’t admire.”
Expect to have new feelings—then embrace them.
“It was hard to be off the air for so long because I was so used to being a daily thing. After I left, I didn’t realize that was going to be a huge shift. I wanted the huge shift. But all of the sudden, I was like, ‘Who am I? Am I not relevant? I’m not that famous anymore.’ It screwed with my head a little. I had no idea that was my relationship with fame or being on TV. That’s when I realized I want a much richer life than that.”
Take a step back.
“I took a break after my E! show. Doing that and then being able to completely change course has been a huge gift. It should be a huge motivator for anybody who’s stuck, or who is just not in love with life. If you’re going to do something, keep it interesting.”
Face challenges head on.
“I think my point of this is for all of us to be more mindful. Let’s ask questions. Let’s put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. I like conflict. I’m so sick of people who don’t like it, who don’t want to get involved, who want to keep the peace. That’s not a real, honest conversation.”
Stick up for what you believe in.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with people. If I have two friends who get in a fight with each other, I always get involved. I always take sides. If you don’t ever want to get involved in anything, what does that say about you? Anybody who loves somebody should get involved. Go to bat for people. I exercise that as much as possible. It doesn’t make you very popular at times. But it makes you honest.”