She’s been not-so-casually doing this acting thing since she was 16 and cast in the soap opera Another World, but that doesn’t mean Kyra Sedgwick doesn’t still take career advice from her 91-year-old mom.
“She’s still working! I can barely keep up with her!” laughs the 57-year-old on a sunny Friday afternoon in her hometown of New York. “And she changed her career at 50, which is kind of funny, because I started directing at 50. In retrospect, she was a great model for it. She used to say, ‘You can change your career at any time—don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t.’ It’s great advice, no matter what industry you are in. She never wears a drop of makeup, and she’s gorgeous. She’s a real force.”
This summer, Sedgwick will show off her “first career” skills under what she calls another “force” via Season 2 of Jenny Han’s super popular, coming-of-age drama, The Summer I Turned Pretty, streaming on Amazon Prime July 14 with new episodes through the end of August.
“It’s Jenny Han’s world and we’re just living in it. She’s incredible,” says Sedgwick with a sort of unexpected fan-girl admiration that’s refreshingly humble coming from someone who has starred in cult-classic films like Singles and Born on the Fourth of July, has an Emmy Award and a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is pretty much the only person on the planet who will always be a shoo-in in the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game (the duo has been married for more than 35 years and have two children, Travis and Sosie).
“I love the world Jenny has created for herself. The books are fantastic, and now the show is so popular. I am impressed by her entrepreneurial spirit; I love that she really believes in what she does. She knows her worth.
I find that to be a really attractive thing when I’m looking for work. I want to know that the person in charge believes in what they’re doing and believes they are worthwhile, so that I can invest and trust that what I’m doing will also be worthwhile. I’m excited to see the episodes. It was really fun to work with Elsie Fisher and Rachel Blanchard, and the entire cast is incredible. But it’s definitely a bit of a whole new world for me…and it’ll be a whole new world of an audience that’s exposed to me, but in a great way! That’s fun.”
You’ve been doing this since you were a teenager. Has it always been fun?
“You need to have a certain amount of ‘chutzpah’ in this industry. You need to have a really thick skin to be in it this long. I think the secret to longevity is longevity. I guess, in a way, the only thing I would’ve told myself earlier is to not worry about things so much…because it’s all going to be fine. But, really, what always kept me going, the thing that I somehow always knew—even when I was incredibly young—was that this was it for me. I really wanted to do this acting thing, and I wasn’t going to stop until I was able to do it.”
And you did it…
“I do feel really lucky to have the career I have. And, no matter what happens after this point, I feel very lucky. In a lot of ways, I feel like it’s just the beginning— I feel like I have a lot more to prove and a lot more to do. I’m excited about the directing chapter of my career. I’m excited about this new show and for whatever comes next in this new chapter.”
You and your husband have had a lot of success, but the story has been told that you felt pretty strongly about not wanting your daughter, Sosie, to get into the business. How does that feel now that she’s had success?
“It feels good that she’s doing well. It’s a lot easier to applaud and be happy for her choice now. We’re happy that she’s been able to carve out a place for herself. I think it’s just the devil you know…and we both know that devil very well. That’s why we were like, ‘Don’t go into this business. It’s so painful, and there’s so much rejection.’ We didn’t want her to get hurt.
The secret to longevity is longevity.
I also really like working with my son; I’ve worked with him a lot. I find him to be an excellent collaborator as a composer. We work really well together.
I look at it this way: There’s going to be issues with every single job that you have. There’s always going to be something, no matter what you are doing. And if you can go home and talk to your parents about it, you’re lucky. I’m happy for both of them; I also know that there are ebbs and flows in any industry, and they can be really hard and public in this particular one.
But I’m happy that our family is happy and doing well for today. Things change all the time, but for today, all of us are good.”
Are you good at leaving work at work and family life at home?
“We’re all terrible at separating the two! That’s always been difficult for us. I guess if you love what you do, you always take it with you— in a good way.
Kevin and I are particularly bad at leaving work at work. Over the pandemic, we made a short together because we just needed to create, to collaborate, to get something out there. Since we met, we’ve always been bouncing ideas off each other, and the same goes for the kids. I guess we sort of can’t help it. We hope to do a family project together soon… really soon. Stay tuned.
But I think that we’re all creative people who like to talk about the business—not the ‘true’ business part, but the creative part. Of course, if we’re not feeling great about our careers, we’ll try to leave that at the door so we can have a good day and a good time with each other, but for the most part, it’s always part of our lives.
I’m always interested in what they think of everything, like what TV show they think is amazing, or what movie they just saw. I just watched Beau Is Afraid because my son told me I had to, and then we talked about it afterward. I love that. I have an easy, built-in way to talk to my kids without them really knowing that I want to spend more time with them! I can’t complain.”
“I do a lot of self-care. It’s actually something I consider myself to be pretty good at. I wasn’t good at it when I was in my 20s, but I woke up one day in my 30s and was like, ‘I need to prioritize taking care of myself.’ I firmly believe in the concept of filling up my own tank, so that I can be there for the people that I love.”
“I meditate very imperfectly—not every day, but most days. I know that I need to stay mindful, which is a practice in itself. It’s interesting; I live in New York and I walk around the city. If I feel like everyone I encounter is annoying, then everyone is also annoyed by me. I try to take the approach of, ‘Let it begin with me. This is totally my problem.’ Because there are days when I’m feeling good and I’m just so kind to everyone, and I get nothing but kindness back. You are definitely a reflection of yourself. We get what we put out. I try to put out good things; I try to put out good vibes. And when I get into despair about what’s happening in the world, I do some mindfulness techniques to get me out of that.”
“I absolutely love Biologique Recherche products—even though they are more expensive than God! That P50 Lotion is an amazing exfoliator. I use it daily. I’ve been into their products since I was in my 20s.”
“That at-home microcurrent stuff that is available now is really good. I have the Ziip device and it’s relatively inexpensive if you look at it like a really good treatment you can do at home. It almost feels empowering to do it.”
“I like to exercise, and I love to exercise in nature. I don’t really run, but I love to hike when I’m in Los Angeles and I like to walk around when I’m in New York, especially in the parks. We’re so lucky to have the parks! I need to see some green to ground me.”
“I think breathing deep is way more important than we realize, especially when you’re on adrenaline. Anyone who has a smartphone is operating on a certain amount of not-so-healthy adrenaline, in my opinion. I don’t do anything structured; I just do a good, old-fashion long inhale, long exhale. Even if it’s five breaths, it helps. It can just be five conscious breaths. Everyone can fit that in.”