Jessica Biel's Latest Project Was Inspired by a Long-Standing Relationship In Her Life
Jessica Biel greets me in a long, body-hugging patent leather skirt and matching waist belt, with a black mock turtleneck tucked in. She’s dressed for the launch party of her Gaiam capsule collection, but it strikes me as kind of funny that she’s wearing such a sophisticated outfit to celebrate the launch of a yoga line.
Where are the leggings, Jess?
On second thought, I realize the outfit is emblematic of Biel herself. Her day-to-day life swings between the glamour of walking a red carpet hand-in-hand with Justin Timberlake to having her three-year-old son, Silas, jump on her back while she bends into a downward dog.
As a working mom, Biel’s connection with yoga stretches beyond its perception as a trendy hobby. “It’s the one thing I really hope and believe will be kind of like a long-standing relationship in my life,” she says of the activity. “It’s just something I need for my brain and my body.”
Playing the role it does in her day-to-day, it only made sense that Biel's first fashion collaboration would involve yoga. Enter: Gaiam. Jessica's capsule collection with the brand includes a blend of soft fabrics and modern designs, every piece serving the actress's goal: to create clothing that doesn't explicitly read as workout wear.
“You can wear these pieces to the yoga studio, to the gym, or wherever you’re doing any of your exercise … or not!” she tells InStyle. “Or you are just living with them — going to the store, picking your kids up … and possibly even transforming it into an evening look, if you had no chance to go home, no opportunity.”
She suggests throwing on a pair of heels with the brand’s in-demand Harem pants. “Would you actually do it? I’m not sure, but that’s the feeling behind it, that it could cross sort of throughout your entire day.”
Of course, the through-line yoga provides is not purely aesthetic — the exercise also serves as a point of connection between her and her son. She’ll often put a mat out next to hers to encourage him to join in. “He’s into some downward dogs, some upward dogs,” she says, but what’s really in it for Silas? “He just wants to jump on my back. So I’m doing downward dog and he’s hanging off me as I’m doing that — that’s what normally happens.”
Silas is also a major reason she got involved with USA’s anthology series The Sinner, a performance that earned Biel her first Emmy nomination. The actress and series' executive producer stars in the first season as Cora Tanetti, a mother who stabs a man to death on the beach one day without a clue as to why.
“I just had so much compassion and empathy for this idea of what if this actually happened to me, and I would not be able to see my son, that it’s possible that I wouldn’t be able to see him grow up, and that was something that I related to every day,” Biel explains. “The complexities of [Cora’s] psychology, the unreliable quality of her, and how do we make her likable … Can she be likable? Can you follow a character like that? Do you care enough — can we as an audience care enough? So all of these questions, which seemed really kind of daunting — I think were the real draw of playing that person — seeing if we could do it.”
Do it she did, and to critical acclaim, but it wasn’t without its challenges. “It was the moment I waited for,” Biel said of hearing “Cut!” each day on set. “Any moment I could step out of it, I took it. I needed to have those mind breaks,” she explained. “When the scene is over and the day is over? Let it all go.”
Time to hit the mat, we presume?