The beloved New Yorker talks confidence, holiday gifts for Andy Cohen and why she wants you to buy those purple pumps
Sarah Jessica Parker is the picture of elegance. Her unapologetic fashion sense continues to be an inspiration even more than a decade after the wrap of “Sex and the City.” And her business savvy and palpable humility make her best-friend material. Just ask her real-life BFF, Bravo host Andy Cohen, to whom she gifted a Carrie-esque “Andy” nameplate necklace for his 50th birthday last June.
In town to partner for the launch of the new American Express Business Gold card, the actress appeared at TAO Chicago (632 N. Dearborn) to chat candidly about her career journey from actor to producer to fragrance mogul to shoe designer (one you’re likely to run into when she’s visiting her 52nd Street store in Manhattan).
Before SATC started filming, producer Darren Star encouraged you to not only act in the series, but serve as a producer. How were you able to become confident in that role?
For most of us, confidence doesn’t come naturally. I think if you’re feeling a lack of confidence, the best thing is to learn, to pay attention. I always feel like I’ll listen to any conversation. I think confidence is boosted by [having] information. The more information you have, the more you’re able to take information and other people’s experiences and process it for yourself, I think the more confident you become because you just know more.
When did you realize Darren was right about you taking that on?
When I first started having real conversations — I would say the third season — when I felt I was contributing in a way. I wasn’t just doing the work, but I was recognizing what I was bringing to the process. I think I was stunned to know how much I liked it. I thought, “There’s no going back now. I can never just be an actor for hire, because I will always want to be part of this conversation.” But that’s not entirely true either. Sometimes it’s really nice to just be an actor for hire. There’s something really soothing about just having that one responsibility.
You mentioned on Watch What Happens Live last week that the storylines from SATC don’t necessarily work anymore. Why not?
It’s not that they don’t work anymore. That show was made 20 years ago, so New York was politically, economically, socially an entirely different place. We had a different man for president. If you did that today, you would be telling a period piece. Those experiences could be anywhere at anytime. I think the emotional experiences, the search for love that the show was about, the search for meaning and friendships, the family you create, that’s timeless. The sexual, political climate specific to our show is very of its time. And like I said, the show wasn’t integrated — you weren’t seeing women of color, it’s very interesting to look at that and see now, you could never do that, nor should you. But then you’d be telling a different story, because people are segregated in society. It’s very weird. It gets very meta.
You visit your SJP shoe stores frequently and you’re passionate about helping women find shoes they feel good about. Is there a common theme between the women you’re meeting?
There’s not a common theme. When you’ve met one woman, you’ve met one woman. Women are as different as they are from men. I would think the one thing that I’ve experienced more is this idea of appropriate. They’ll be like, “I’m just here to look for a black shoe,” and I’ll ask, “How many black pumps do you have? Do you secretly want a beautiful, concord grape pump?” And they’re like, “Yeah, but I can’t because of my field, my work.” Does a man ever come to the office with a bright, beautiful, purple tie? Why does that tie not make him less of an authority, less respected, less good at what he does than your purple pumps? And that happens a lot. It doesn’t have anything to do with their intellect or how smart they are or how good they are at their job or how appropriate they are at the office.
You gave your friend Andy Cohen the Carrie-like necklace for his birthday this year. Any plans for holiday exchanges?
For Andy? He’s not getting a holiday gift! Are you kidding me, the friendship is a gift! I’ll probably give him a book. At this point, we give each other books. But it was his 50th, so I really wanted something special for him so I wanted him to have a nameplate necklace.
photo: Dominik Bindl/Getty Images