Busy Philipps Interview on Actors’ Strike, Kids Growing Up

It’s been an emotional summer for Busy Philipps. The mom of two has been gearing up to send her oldest child, Birdie, to boarding school in Sweden.

“I’m a mess already. It started to hit me this past month,” the actor told POPSUGAR in late July. She’s been documenting the process on social media, a place where her fans have come to love how relatable, funny, and outspoken she is — from her sing-along Instagram Stories to her poetic musings about motherhood.

“I’m really feeling the pangs right now that I think are relatable whether or not your kid is going to boarding school — your kids growing up and on their way to being young adults and their own humans,” she continued. “And I’m just hoping and praying I did the right things and instilled the right values and that they know they always have a safe place to land.”

It’s been a big summer for the entire family; Cricket, Philipps’s younger daughter, turned 10, while Birdie turned 15. The three of them have been traveling a lot, and they attended Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in May — which was “very memorable,” Philipps said. (Philipps coparents both kids with husband Marc Silverstein, whom she separated from in 2021.)

“What we’re fighting for is very basic.”

But it hasn’t all been sweet. Between her podcast, “Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best,” and her advocacy work (she’s currently partnering with Two Good on a campaign for Hunger Action Month in September; more on that below), Philipps has been supporting the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in both Los Angeles and New York City, taking to the picket lines and raising awareness of the realities of working in Hollywood.

“What we’re fighting for is very basic,” she explained. “We’re not even fighting for more money, we’re literally fighting for residuals that we are owed under agreements that were made from formulas based on broadcast and cable and DVD sales.”

Philipps gave a personal anecdote to illustrate the problem. When she was pregnant with Birdie 15 years ago, she said, she wasn’t working in enough TV shows or movies to qualify for health insurance. But because she’d been on so many shows that were playing reruns on cable (like “Freaks and Geeks” and “Dawson’s Creek”), she was able to qualify for health insurance. Streamers present a different reality for actors these days.

“I have multiple friends now who’ve had babies in the last couple of years who have completely lost their health insurance — and those friends have been on huge shows on streamers,” she said. “They’re not getting paid the money that they’re rightfully owed for the work that they’ve done for these companies. And the companies are recording billions and billions and billions of dollars in subscriptions and then claiming poverty.”

The truth is, Philipps said, it’s not just the entertainment industry that’s facing this discrepancy; while billionaires are amassing more wealth, she said, workers across industries are struggling to qualify for health insurance and put food on the table, positioning them just one financial misstep away from “derailing their entire life.”

“They’re just out of touch, these old billionaires.”

The reason the writers’ and actors’ strikes are getting so much attention, she added, is because many of the impacted workers are visible to the public. “If they’re doing this to the most forward-facing of us, what are they doing to everyone else, you know what I mean?” she asked, incredulously. “They’re just out of touch, these old billionaires.”

It’s not just workers’ rights that Philipps publicly — and loudly — supports. She opened up about her own abortion story last year after Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would federally ban abortion, and she’s long been an outspoken ally to the LGBTQ+ community.

“I suppose that I feel that there’s not really a choice for me other than to support what’s right, and I believe deeply in everyone’s right to live their lives and have equality and autonomy and food on the table and healthcare and a living wage,” she said. “I don’t think those things should be available for just rich white people.”

Of course, Philipps can understand that many Americans can get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of “different issues that are facing all of us constantly.” But her charge to everyone is to think small. “No one is expecting any one of us to change the world. That’s not how it works,” she explained. “As much as I would like to say that some of these billionaires could make a huge dent in helping a lot of issues, especially in terms of living wage and providing healthcare and pay equality and also support for parents — for the rest of us, our job is to do what we can when we can do it.”

For her upcoming campaign with Two Good, for example, people can simply post the hashtag #GetHangryForGood on a public account or purchase a Two Good product throughout September, and the company will donate $1 to City Harvest and We Don’t Waste to help food insecurity.

As she puts it: “I have seen the work that can be accomplished with just a few dollars, and it does make a difference.”

And that sense that all of us have a role to play is ultimately what keeps her yelling from the rooftops about the injustice she’s seeing in her world.

“It is a bummer more people aren’t vocal. But people are afraid,” Philipps said. “I just don’t ever let fear be my motivating factor. Except when it comes to spiders, creepy-crawly bugs. Then I’m out.”

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