Lioness is back with Part II of our interview with the actress and author.
Last month I had the pleasure of chatting with Josie Bissett. For an hour the Washington native allowed us to have a candid conversation about working in Hollywood, raising teenagers and how to make yourself a priority. She even took some fan questions from social media.
We covered so much it was impossible to cram it all into one article. So I’m back with Part II of our chat.
On being a woman in Hollywood …
Natasha: Many of your female peers in the entertainment industry like Gina Davis and Patricia Arquette have been shining light on the lack of value that seems to be placed on working actresses – like pay equality and quality roles for women. Do you feel that you’ve experienced bias in your career?
Josie: You know, I’m sure there is and I think Patricia Arquette is incredible for doing that and all the women who stand up, I admire them so much. For me, I don’t care that much about acting. To me, it’s my job. I just want to pay my bills and raise my kids. I haven’t been interviewed for a job [in a while]. I haven’t auditioned [for a role] since Melrose Place. If I wasn’t successful early, if it took me longer to get to success, I couldn’t have done it. [The entertainment industry] is brutal. The biggest thing that I love about what I do is that it’s enabled me to do things I really love, like writing children’s books.
Natasha: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like there are fantastic actresses like yourself or a Julianna Margulies who have been carrying the torch of finding remarkable roles on television for years. It seems like lately there has been a renewed interest in television as you see film stars now starring in series’ or made for TV movies. Has being on television been a conscious choice or more a reflection of the projects that you are interested in?
Josie: When I was interviewing for Melrose, I simultaneously booked this film so I had to make a choice. It was a small role but it was a big film. I chose Melrose, obviously, because I just saw it as having more of a chance to succeed. It was more instinct. I think falling into a hit show is luck and timing. If I hadn’t had kids after, I then maybe might have gotten into film. TV was the right way for me to go. I couldn’t get a film and take my kids to Mexico. I would never choose to be away from my kids for a month. With TV movies I still have to arrange their schedule with school. I want them to be with me and that alone is still a juggle. I just got back from Korea where I finished this film with Liam Neeson. It was one scene and I was his wife. As my kids grow older (they currently are 14 and 17), I have more free time and can go away for longer chunks of time.
Natasha: If you could give advice to readers who want to break into your industry, what would it be?
Josie: My first piece of advice to young kids would be to go to college first. Yes, it is expensive and competitive and some kids know what they want to do right away. I think it’s important to figure out who you are. If you dive in too young I think [Hollywood] is difficult. I look at a Natalie Portman and the other actresses that I admire and they are smart. They have an education and to be a really good actor, it only benefits you by a thousand times to be smart. If you want to be an actor, you can still go to NYU to study acting. I didn’t go to college and I grew up way too fast. I left home at 16 and nothing could have stopped me and I was so determined. I knew what I wanted, but I also missed out on life without responsibility. Graduate, travel the world for a year and then go to college when you decide what you what to do. Why not take the time and lay that foundation?
On staying inspired …
Natasha: What are some things that keep you feeling inspired?
Josie: I am really a huge fan of the O Network. I love reading. So what I do is record my favorite shows on her channel which are Masterclass, Where Are They Now, which I am filming tomorrow in Seattle, and Super Soul Sunday. I record those and save the repeats. They’re phenomenal and the people she has on are the most amazing human beings – anyone from the Dalai Lama to the author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” It’s all about growing and being the best you can be. I’ll put it on as I’m getting ready and doing my makeup. I also watch Ted Talks.
On burnout and making time for dating …
Natasha: You’ve been in the entertainment industry for decades. You hear so much about the ups and downs, the burnout – what is it about the work that you do that keeps you engaged as an actress?
Josie: What I love about what I do is that every job and every day of the job is different. It can be very stressful. Even if I’m dating someone they’re like, “it’s kind of crazy.” I make plans with them, then have to cancel and change it and from their perspective it’s probably frustrating. I never know what’s going to happen, but I thrive on change. Even when I was little I loved change. It’s always good to know how to go with the flow. We can’t choose a perfect little life. We have to know how to take a different route.
Josie takes some questions from Lioness fans on social media …
Natasha: Jovan S. asks, “What is the most rewarding project that you’ve worked on, and why was it so rewarding?”
Josie: It was a TV film I did, “Dare to Love.” It’s a true story. My character was a schizophrenic. What I loved about it was I was able to research the disease and go to psych wards and talk to these patients, some who are in the VA hospital, and it was such a horrific disease. I really felt like I got to do my part in educating anyone who was watching it. It was one of my favorite projects. I love learning something when I’m working. The other one was writing my first children’s book. It was the first time I had taken on a project that I wrote. I created the colors. I imagined it all. It was such a fulfilling project for me to know that children are laughing and parents are bonding over it.
Natasha: Dana S. asks, “Josie, you make forty-something look amazing. What is your diet and fitness routine?”
Josie: My theory on eating is balance. I know that if I deprive myself of anything I want it more. I eat a little bit throughout the day. When you eat that way, your stomach doesn’t need a lot. I always have protein with my meal. I won’t eat bread often. I won’t eat a lot at a time. I eat when I’m hungry. I don’t eat to just eat.
Natasha: Allison B. asks, “As a multi-passionate entrepreneur – working as an actress, author, mother and fitness inspiration – how do you find focus?”
Josie: I have to admit it’s difficult and so what happens to me is that my brain gets scattered. I’ll have so many things going on. I’m a note person. l have a notepad everywhere. I have to make myself do this and I have to prioritize. When I get overwhelmed, I try to get my priorities straight. My first priorities are my family, my kids and my health. Then comes everything else. Since work comes in the way of the those three, the busier we get the less we workout. It’s hard to change and make time for everything. I really think the pie of life theory helps. Taking time time to get clear on your priorities helps a ton.