Brooke Shields

Carries one person in all her thoughts

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

The New York Times bestselling author has written yet another sincere memoir; an in-depth depiction of her atypical relationship with her mother and the turns of the secluded, private life of the world’s top beauty which kept selling magazines for years. Brooke advocates writing as an emotional release and applies this in her new book There Was A Little Girl to audaciously reveal her eminent relationships with Michael Jackson, George Michael, Andre Agassi, struggle with her mother’s alcoholism and relationships with the stardom of screen partners.

HealthyLivinG: Congratulations on your new book.

Brooke Shields: Thank you.

Healthy LivinG: How does it feel to be a New York Times best-selling author?

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Brooke Shields: It's fun to have it framed and up on the wall next to my diploma. It makes you feel like at least you've reached enough people and you've touched enough people. So it's affirming.

Healthy LivinG: Do you find it therapeutic to write a memoir about some of the emotional things that you were holding onto and would you recommend it for somebody who has some kind of emotional baggage?

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

Brooke Shields: I would always recommend people writing. I just recently spent time with an old friend of mine. She had a very tumultuous tragic relationship with both her parents. I said to her, you know what? I think it's important. It's not always cathartic. I don't think you can definitely hope that it's going to be. Sometimes it's just bad. In my case, it was just much more sad than cathartic. But I think it's important to record your honest reactions and thoughts and have it on paper so that you give it the resonance our past deserves.

Healthy LivinG: How would you think your mother would react to reading your book?

Brooke Shields: I think she would love that people were still interested at all in me and her and our relationship. I think she would think of it as a testament to the longevity that she always had hoped for. I think she would get a real kick out of how I brought her into the full character that she was and wanted to be. I think she would be pretty proud that I wrote it about her and I cared enough.

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Healthy LivinG: Based on your experience with your mother, what do you teach your children about alcohol and other substances?

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine.

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine.

Brooke Shields: Well, they're still pretty young. But we talk about it. They're only 11 and 8. But we just talk about the hazards of it. They've seen the bad reactions that people have to it. Moderation, we're always trying to teach them that. But I don't really want them to have to feel hyper-vigilant about me the way I was about my mother's drinking. So, I definitely watch them and make sure that I'm not causing them any need for concern.

Healthy LivinG: What was the main reason for the book?

Brooke Shields: The main reason was that it was really just my turn to talk about my relationship from my perspective because no one ever asked me. No one ever wanted to hear from me. They wanted to just have their own opinions about my mother and never really chose to go much deeper than what had already been perpetuated as an image. I felt very amazed at the power of the mother/daughter relationship and mother/child relationship and how in depth and complicated every single one is. Whether you have a great one or you have not a good one, somehow it resonates. I read an obituary that had been written about my mother. I was lied to and I was told my obituary was going to be printed. And then mine wasn't. Instead, in place was a very unkind, untoward review of my mother's life from someone who hadn't even met her. So, I felt the need to sort of say, “Let me tell you the whole story and my story.”

Healthy LivinG: But that's pretty much been going on your whole life, where there was some bad press about your mother since you were very young. That must have affected you in some form.

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Brooke Shields: It did and it didn't. I didn't really pay too much attention to what was written because I always believed that I knew the truth and that people who loved me and loved my mother understood the whole story, the fullness of the story. But I also never felt it necessary to stand on any type of a platform and say, "This is an outrage and you've done me wrong." It was really just about saying I knew the truth and that was going to have to be enough for me.

But it wasn't until I felt the really sort of blatant disrespect and injustice, not so much personally about saying something unkind about my mother, but it raised the question for me as to where human decency was. Why is it okay in this society, now in this world of social media, where you can just say anything you want about anybody and not have to take responsibility for it? That bullying sort of concept was something that I just felt that I needed to address and our story would be the template for that.

Healthy LivinG: As a little girl, it must have been painful to hear negative comments about someone so dear and so close to you.

Brooke Shields: I didn't really hear a lot of it. I didn't read any of the press that was on me. My mother didn't show me any of the papers or anything. Every now and then I'd see a picture or something like that. But she also, if I did see anything, she would just say to me, "Ah, f**k them." It was water off her back. Whether it was seriously that or not, I won't ever know. But she didn't seem bothered by it.

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

She would look at me and she would say, “Do you have your opinion? Do you know this is true? Do you feel this way?” And I would say, “No.” And she’d say, “Don't give them another thought.” It's not interesting to talk positively about somebody. It's much more intriguing to speak ill. That's why tabloids are so successful. People want other people's lives to be in ruins and like horrible reality shows to make them feel better about themselves. She said that's just a condition of human nature. We don't have to pay attention to it. So, she was much more in that thought process.

Healthy LivinG: Throughout your life, she obviously had influence on your thoughts and your actions. And there was a point in your life when you weren't happy with your career; you weren't certain where you were going. Was there any time where you thought your mother's thoughts and opinions would not affect you as much?

Brooke Shields: Not really. Until I had my own daughter and had really individuated from her, I carried her in all of my thoughts about everything. Her presence was just very important to me. But to express to her that I was discontented, so to speak, with my career, she would have taken that as an affront that I was somehow blaming her. I was afraid to hurt her feelings.

I just would say to her, "Do you think this is going to happen or is that going to happen?" And I just waited for her every word for her affirmation of things. I think that she just would say, "You have to be patient. Be patient." So, I just tried to be patient because I believed that she believed that it was all going to work out. I didn't realize that I really had to make some changes before my career would be able to take on the next phase, which it wasn't. It was stagnating.

Healthy LivinG: Did you ever feel a lot of pressure from her, whether it was in your career or your personal life? Did you feel even a little even scared what she might say or think?

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Brooke Shields: I don't think I'd say scared. It ended up not even feeling like pressure because it was just… I just took her word as gospel. Plus she would sort of indicate that I wanted to do something else but she influenced me to do what she wanted. The thing is, whatever she wanted, I wanted.

The time that we went to go interview an agent, I never had an agent, he even said, “I want to work with you.” He was this very high-powered agent with all these Academy Award winning actors. He said, “I want to work with your daughter, but you have to step down as her manager.” Not only would my mother never do that, it wasn't as if I could’ve made that choice and chosen to go with the agent and left her. I wouldn't have even thought of it. It took me many, many years before I realized I needed to separate from her professionally in order to be where I wanted to be.

Healthy LivinG: In your book you wrote about the surreal connection that you had with Andre Agassi, that you even felt like you needed each other. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Brooke Shields: It's pretty delineated in the book. He came into my life at a very necessary time and absolutely facilitated my independence from my mom with regard to my career. I wouldn't have had the strength to do it without his guidance and his help and care.

Healthy LivinG: Do you think it's possible to have that kind of connection more than once in a lifetime?

Brooke Shields: I absolutely do. I think because we change constantly. As long as you're open to people and people affecting you and being open to learning from them, I think you're going to have many extraordinary relationships. I think they're all different. But the love was not to be discredited.

But I think it's often more than just love. I always used to think love was enough. I don't really feel that. It has to be there. But I think other things have to have the same-same morals, same desire for lifestyle. I can say easily that I still have love for my ex-husband, for my ex-boyfriends, that there was something that I won't deny just because it didn't continue the way it was going.

Healthy LivinG: You dated several very famous people. Was there any particular one that your mother liked more than the others and wanted you to keep seeing them?

Brooke Shields: Yeah. I think she just liked it whenever there was a prominent personality because I think she felt that it somehow validated me or her, the sort of place that we had within the entertainment industry. She was excited. She was also, at the heart, a fan. She was a huge movie, TV, movie star fan. We both were. So she would get excited if I met somebody or if I went out with somebody famous.

She spent inordinate amounts of energy and time making sure I stayed in regular children's schools, I didn't go out to California and my sisters would come with me and my friends from school would go on trips with me. So, I always had a play date with somebody who was not in the entertainment industry to keep a sense of normalcy, I would say.

Healthy LivinG: What about Michael Jackson? It's extremely rare to have a person in your life of a such consequence such as Michael Jackson, as it was becoming clear with time that Michael Jackson's art will survive us all. Did you feel at the time how special he was and how his legacy would continue?

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

Brooke Shields. Healthy Living Magazine

Brooke Shields: He was a unique genius. He was sort of a miracle in many ways with regard to his capacity and his talent. So, I think that I was very aware of his uniqueness. But I was also aware of his sensitivity and the way his heart worked. He was a really polite, sweet, sweet person. Just innately, we both realized that we could trust each other. That is something in the entertainment industry very hard to find.

Healthy LivinG: And very hard to survive with a sensitive personality, in a harsh world of entertainment.

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Brooke Shields: The world itself is pretty harsh, I have to say. The entertainment world is just one of the areas it gets played out more publicly. But it definitely is hard out there. The world is [not] soft. I mean I have two little girls who are growing up in it and I'm desperate to protect them and give them the strength to be able to be confident in their ownthem selves and be able to stand up for themselves.

Healthy LivinG: What has your relationship with your mother taught you about raising children and how differently are you raising them from how you were raised?

Brooke Shields: There are similarities I'm going for with just certainly having the humor she had and the willingness to experience in life and being kind to people. There's a lot of that that I take: respect for your elders, writing thank you notes and all those sorts of things that she was such a stickler about.

But I don't want my children ever to feel like they have to worry about taking care of me like I had to take care of my mother because it created anxiety for me that she was going to be okay, and I was always worried about her well-being and that she was going to die or something was going to happen to her. It was preoccupying me. I really would not want to have that burden on my children.

Healthy LivinG: Did you ever feel that perhaps you would come home or wake up in the morning and she was not going to be able to wake up? That must be hard growing up, to always have that fear?

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Brooke Shields: Unfortunately, she wasn't shrewd about it. I was always fed and clothed and everything was kept in order. She was a very functioning drunk. She was going to prove to everybody that she didn't have a problem. That's a classic move of an alcoholic.

Healthy LivinG: And you also said that you loved her cooking?

Brooke Shields: I loved anything she made, anything she did. To me, it was just delicious. It was like “My mama made it.” She was good when she took the time and when we weren't living the more bohemian life. She could make anything taste really good. But she wasn't the type of mom to sort of have dinner on the table at 6:00 ever. When she did cook, it was delicious.

Healthy LivinG: Did you see a big change in her appearance due to the alcohol when you were growing up?

Brooke Shields: When she was drinking, yeah. She would get bleary-eyed and her lips would sort of get dry and sort of smudged. When she was trying to stop drinking, she would eat a lot of sugar and she gained weight. That was usually due to trying to stop drinking. So, then she would say, “Oh, I've gained weight,” and she’d drink more.

Healthy LivinG: So, she would substitute it. What advice can you give to those who have family members, parents or siblings who suffer from alcoholism?

Brooke Shields: I would definitely say ask for help. Go to Al-Anon. Go to groups. Reach out. Talk to family members. Don’t try to do this alone and don’t take responsibility. Don’t think that if you were a better person or if you did this or that they would somehow miraculously change. If the person has a problem, they need professional help. But it’s out there.

Healthy LivinG: Are you currently traveling with book signings and meeting fans?

Brooke Shields: Yes. We've been doing that non-stop for 10 days now.

Healthy LivinG: You said in your book that you opened the paper and saw the obituary and you were very disappointed in what was written about your mother. What would be a one-liner or an opening to her obituary if it were in your own words?

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Brooke Shields: My whole book is actually sort of what I made the new obituary. The first line is, “I knew my mother better than anybody and yet I feel like I didn't know her at all.”

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