Welcome to our new podcast, Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr. Think of it as your direct line to the designers, stylists, beauty experts, editors, and tastemakers who are shaping the fashion and beauty world. Subscribe to Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Busy Philipps may think of herself as only a “double threat,” but with her acting abilities, singing skills, killer comedic chops, and Instagram fashion influencer side hustle, we’d say she’s much more talented than she gives herself credit for. While Philipps will always be Audrey Liddell first and foremost in our hearts, her impressive decades-long film and TV career has made her—and her usually zany characters—a household name. Her latest project Girls5eva, a Tina Fey–produced series streaming on Peacock, puts her back in center stage as a former ’90s girl band member aiming for a comeback. In this week’s podcast, she regales Hillary Kerr with stories about how the stars aligned for her to gain this dream role, how she feels about ’90s low-rise jeans, and the accessories brands you’ll always catch her wearing.
One thing that you’ve been really open about is that you’re very selective about the projects that you work on. You want to work with people who you really enjoy when it’s interesting, when you really feel called to a certain project. So I’m assuming that when Tina Fey knocks on the door, you answer the door. Can you tell me about how this project started?
Tina Fey and I had done a pilot together years ago that didn’t get picked up for NBC, and then, she was the executive producer on my late-night talk show, RIP… Then, there was the pandemic. Mark, my husband, was looking online, and he’s like, “You know, rents aren’t very inexpensive in New York right now. We could rent a place in New York for a month and just go live there.” It’s the best time of the year. It’s September in New York. Their numbers were low. And then, it was just this crazy confluence of circumstances. Within 48 hours, these people accepted our month rental with the dog, and we packed up for three weeks and flew out here thinking that was what it was going to be. And then, week two, Tina Fey calls me. She follows me on Instagram—she has a Finsta—and she was like, “Listen, I know this is crazy. Do you know about this TV show? We’re about to start shooting.” I was like, “No, you’re about to start shooting a TV show? It’s a pandemic. What’s happening?” She’s like, “It’s about a ’90s girl group that then tries to stage a comeback in their 40s,” and I, no joke, fell on the floor. I was like, “Why are you telling me a dream that I’ve had? What are you talking about?” And then, she was like, “Meredith Scardino wrote it (who’s an incredible writer who worked with Tina for years and worked with Stephen Colbert for years). Sara Bareilles and Renée Elise Goldsberry are already signed on, and there’s this part of Summer, and we always thought of you for it. You were always what we wanted, but because of the pandemic and you lived in L.A., I wasn’t even going to ask you to make that decision with your kids. But you’re here! What are the chances that you’re here? So do you want to just stay and do this TV show?” I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening.
Can we talk about the vocals? I saw you were singing. You were training. What was that like? Is that a new skill set? Do you feel comfortable with it? What’s the most challenging part?
Oh, I’ve been in the recording studio more in the last five months than I’ve been at my kids’ school for pickup. Recording in the studio was challenging. Singing in and of itself is not challenging for me, and it’s something that I’ve always done. I mean, I would say singing next to Sara Bareilles is a little intimidating. Her voice is naturally just incredible. She has an incredible voice, and Renée Elise Goldsberry as well. Just a powerhouse. It defies every expectation. I mean, it’s so good in person. But we were constantly singing on set. We would make up songs, like Paula Pell and I would break into weird songs—all four of us really. I would say that in the recording studio figuring out where Summer’s pop voice lived, it took me a minute to figure that out. But once I did, it was so much better than what I think Jeff and the other music supervisors were thinking it was gonna be. They were like, “That’s really good Busy. That’s really great.” Thanks, guys. I try my hardest. I’m really trying my best here.
You obviously have a lot of fun with fashion in real life. One of the joys of your Instagram is your personal style. You have wardrobe changes throughout the day. You are great about promoting designers and smaller brands that you’re finding. What are some brands, some designers, and some companies that you’re really loving now in the fashion space?
I love Autumn Adeigbo. I’ve always loved Dôen. I love those girls. They’re fantastic, and I still return to it. But it is interesting making a coastal shift because some of it does not work in New York. I dress very colorfully and the old adage… While it’s not 100%, because nothing ever is, people do tend to be a little bit more subdued in their palette choices in New York, I’ve noticed. And I tend to wear a lot of bright-yellow summer dresses and things like that. Just wild and trying to make those work in snowstorms. I just had no basis. I’ve never lived anywhere aside from the West Coast, so I wasn’t sure. Ganni, like the boots, really helped me tie things together. I could wear the boots with dresses, and it made me feel like I was figuring it out a little bit. Always Agua by Agua Bendita. I literally almost wore an Agua Bendita dress for this interview, too. Truly, in the last three years, I’ve bought so many of those dresses. I love them so much. They’re beautiful. You know what I love is the La Double J dresses and returning to Rachel Comey, who I always love.
These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity. Check out our previous episode featuring celebrity stylists Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald.