Alyssa Milano on Parenting, Fandom, and Why She's Not Afraid to Get Political
If you follow Alyssa Milano on Twitter, you know that the actress is NOT afraid to dive into politics. (See: "Those that tell me not to tweet politics because I'm an uninformed celebrity are the same people that voted for ... an uninformed celebrity.")
Why? Because she's a mom (to Milo, 5, and Elizabella, 2), Milano told InStyle. "I just want my kids to be in a place that’s not terrifying." Milano will be first in line to admit she doesn't always balance motherhood and the other dozen projects she's working on as smoothly as it might appear ("It's f—ing scary," she says of parenting). But ultimately, the juggling act is all in service of Milano's ultimate goal—to be a stay-at-home mom when her kids are teenagers so she can be there to "read their diaries," she said, laughing.
InStyle caught up with the mom/actress/fashion entrepreneur/TV host/judge/author about keeping all those balls in the air, including her role on Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later andher sports fashion line Touch by Alyssa Milano's new fall collection, which launched last week at Macy's Herald Square and partners with NFL to offer stylish alternatives to the fan tees you might normally find in stadiums.
Read on for Milano's expert-worthy self-care tips, why she was so happy that Adam Scott replaced Bradley Cooper in Wet Hot, and why she thinks it's essential to speak out politically—even if it gets you threats.
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InStyle: Tell us about your Touch collection—it's been 10 years since you first launched the line!
Alyssa Milano: It’s such a great partnership because the line is all about fashion, and being a female fan doesn’t mean that we don’t like fashion. Being a female sports fan in the past has meant pink and weird souvenir-type T-shirts, and Touch is really about expressing yourself through fashion. Macy’s is so smart—they don’t sell the line in the licensing department; they sell it in the ready-to-wear department. We don’t want to shop in the licensing department, do we? We want to go to the ready-to-wear stuff where the T-shirts are, and if it happens to have a Giants logo or something, even better.
IS: You're a host and judge on Project Runway All Stars. Has doing the show impacted the way you approach your own collection?
AM: There is definitely more of an appreciation of what it takes to get the garment right from doing the show. We get samples in, and I don’t think I fully had an understanding of what goes into making that sample until I started doing the show and being around the designers and seeing what they have to go through to produce something almost everyday for the runway. So it’s definitely given me a different perspective, for sure.
IS: You also just released Wet Hot American Summer (which premiered Aug. 4 on Netflix), joining a cast that’s already worked together before. What was it like being the new kid in town/camp?
AM: It’s terrifying, because it’s not just a cast, it’s like the best comedy cast ever pretty much assembled. There’s not one loser in the bunch, they’re all so strong. But they kind of know that the newbies will be terrified because they’ve known each other for 20 years, so they’re so aware that anyone coming in will be jumping on a moving train and praying that it works out. They were very warm and welcoming. It was such a great experience, and just so much fun just to be able to have that freedom to try things. David Wain, our director, was so great at being a safety net, saying "Try what you want to try, and if it sucks, I’m going to tell you." It really made for a very creative process.
IS: Does that mean lots of improv?
AM: Everything was scripted, but then during rehearsal, if you wanted to try a new thing, they’re all for it. And then if David gets some sort of idea while we’re shooting a scene, he’ll come over and whisper in your ear, "OK, try this," and then you try it, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. So there’s some improv, yeah. [Wain] comes from such an improv thought process that whatever you can come up with improv-wise can never be as good as what’s actually in the script because that’s his background. I think that’s why it feels improv-like, because of the way he writes. The creative process doesn’t always feel creative, and he really makes it feel creative which is great.
VIDEO: Wet Hot American Summer- Ten Years Later - Official Trailer [HD] - Netflix
IS: You had some intense scenes with Adam Scott, who’s playing Bradley Cooper’s old character. You guys had to get pretty physical on set.
AM: [Laughs] I know, it’s so good. I’m just glad it wasn’t Bradley Cooper because my husband [agent Dave Bugliari] represents Bradley Cooper, and that would’ve been super awkward. So I was just very grateful that it was Adam, and I think I told him that a bunch. And then there was one part of the big fight scene where I was straddling him, and he looked up at me in between takes and was like, "If only my 15-year-old self could see me right now." And I was like, "Would you shut up please? That’s so awkward."
IS: With so many projects, how do you keep everything balanced?
AM: I don’t. In three weeks, I move to Atlanta too. For 5 months. I’m doing a Netflix show, and we’re shooting in Atlanta for 5 months, so I’m bringing the kids and hoping we don’t have to go to family therapy. It’s scary. I try to take it all day by day.
The most important thing is for me is to be the best mom that I can possibly be, and I focus on that while I’m doing everything. That part of me is never removed from the situation. And then I just try to do the best I can on a daily basis, because that’s all you can really do. Some days I’m great at it, some days I’m really bad at it.
IS: That’s pretty refreshing to hear. We often see women in Hollywood who are also mothers project a "Oh, it's all easy" message.
AM: They’re not totally fine. They’re faking it. Those are the same people that are like, "Motherhood is so rewarding." Like it's great, but it's f—ing scary. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out; I just fight through it every day and try to do the best I can. And I try to keep my eye on the end goal, which for me, I would like to be a stay-at-home mom when my kids are teenagers because I think that’s when people need their moms around more. I look at this as a 10-year [plan]: just go crazy, focus, work as much as I possibly can so that when that time comes and [my kids] need me around reading their diaries, I will be available to do so.
IS: What does down time look like for you?
AM: I love yoga and SoulCycle, those are my two. They’re like church for me. I try to meditate. I love getting a massage. And it’s taken me a while. I mean my son’s going to be 6, and it’s taken me awhile to realize that taking that time for myself isn’t being neglectful. There’s nothing to feel guilty about taking that time for myself. I think that’s another game mothers play with themselves. Self-care is very important. It’s just been recently where I’ve been like, 'OK, I can take an hour out of every day for me.'
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IS: You're also quite outspoken politically.
AM: That all goes together, though. The parenting and the wanting the world to be a good place, I don’t think you can separate those two things. I don’t think you should. Everything that I do, just like everything my parents did to make the world a better place for me, they were super politically active in the ’60s, I have to give that to my children.
IS: Why do you think people are afraid to talk politics?
AM: I think there’s a fear that goes along with speaking out because you’re really allowing yourself to be vulnerable to death threats and hate tweets and just really horrible things, and it’s got to be more important to you than that. You have to not be afraid to lose fans or business, and I think a lot of actors don’t want to lose people. And I’m just like, ‘I just want my kids to be in a place that’s not terrifying.’
IS: Have you gotten a lot of blowback?
AM: Oh, yeah. Of course. I’ve gotten support as well, but I have a collection of hate tweets that I’m going to at some point do some kind of, I don’t know. I just started this political website called patriotnotpartisan.com and I’d love to do some kind of thing with all the hate tweets. For me, to be in the position I am in and not use my platform to create change is doing the position I’m in a total injustice. We fight on, and we don’t stop, and hopefully it will effect change