Jaime Pressly Talks 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter,' Her Own Family And Her Difficult Teenage Years
November 30th, 2011 1:00pm EST
Jaime Pressly literally glowed on the stage presenting her new show, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, to the Television Critics Association this summer. The light reflected off her tan legs so that even the back row could see. It was almost a physical manifestation of her personality, which shone on its own.
The comedy premieres November 30 on FOX and showcases Pressly’s comedy, as a mother of a difficult girl. Along with her best friend (Katie Finneran), the moms both try to get through to their kids week after week. Pressly discussed her own family and teenage years while previewing the new sitcom.
Q: How is the comedy in this different from My Name Is Earl? Is it the same target audience?
JP: No. I definitely think, first of all, the format’s so different which I love and I chose. All I did was go after multi-camera this time because I want to be a mom. I eventually would like to have another child. The truth is working on single camera, show or film, you have no life. You work 60-80 hours a week. You’re up before your kid gets up and you’re home when they go to sleep. I only got to see him on set. I’ve enjoyed the last two years of being able to wake up with him and see him and be with him and be a part of that because they’re only little once. So being able to have this new schedule was awesome. Now as far as the comedy’s concerned, we’re definitely not as cutthroat and pushing the envelope as much as we did on Earl. That was a little more rough around the edges whereas this is a little more cleaned up and just really showing how difficult it is.
Q: Have you thought about how you’ll handle your son’s teenage years?
JP: I’m going to take everything one step at a time. We’ll cross the path when we get to it. I’m somebody who I want to be your mom, and we can be friends but more importantly I’m your mom. And I’m strict. You have to have manners and you will appreciate, because God knows he has enough toys for a small village in Africa. So my child takes the trash out at 4.
Q: What do you think about the mom wardrobe you'll be wearing on this show?
JP: I love it. I love it. Two things with this. With Joy [on My Name Is Earl] it was hooker clothes all the time. I mean, it was uncomfortable, but then in real life I have to go so against character, her character that I had to wear turtlenecks and I had a child and so all of a sudden I'm a mom and I'm having to go against type. Now I'm playing this really conservative mom so I can come back and feel sexy again. I'm 34. I don't need to dress like I'm eighty four. I can have fun now.
Q: So, you can break out the hooker clothes from your own closet?
JP: See, I don't have any hooker clothes. I can just at least wear a short dress. Whereas before I was having to wear everything below the knee.
Q: How do you balance your son and working on the show now?
JP: It's bee nice because the last two years while I've worked I've chosen or picked very few things that I liked to do that were quick and easy, but I've been able to be home and be with my son and take him to school and pick him up, play dates everywhere.
Q: Will you bring him to set?
JP: Oh, God, he loves the set. He goes and sits right beside…when we were shooting this he sat right beside Andy Ackerman and he watched the director, and you know the guy who wants to say it first, that's Jesse. He's like this, “Action. Cut.” When he says action though I burst into laughter. I can't really do it.
Q: Being southern, is food a big part of your life?
JP: I cook six nights a week. He eats everything but he’s also a kid. Kids are picky. Some will eat everything. When he was a baby, I made all his food organic, vegetables, pureed them and fed him and he ate it all. But now that he’s old enough to see what things are, like most kids, he likes macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets and fish sticks and the same thing we all ate. Pizza. He’s Cuban, half Cuban so beans and rice of course.
Q: What do you think of your character’s parenting?
JP: I have to just say this. It's funny to me whenever somebody wants to give you advice on parenting, because to me, it's kind of like the cure for the common cold. Everybody has their remedy, but the truth is, there's no such thing as a cure for the common cold. There never has been and maybe never will be because it keeps mutating into something new. Every generation keeps getting older and older quicker and quicker. The younger they are, it's crazy. So if somebody wants to come up and say, "This is what you need to do with your child," well, that might have worked with you and your kid, but this is what works for me and mine. So it's not necessarily bad parenting so much as it is just trying trial and error. Who knows what's right and wrong? Every kid's different. Every parent's different. Every situation's different. And like with the common cold, whatever makes you feel better and works for you, that's for you. Good for you. But that chicken soup may not work for them.
Q: For people who don’t have teenage daughters, what will they get out of the show?
JP: You can be a divorcée. You can be a single parent. You can be the sister or brother of a teenage ass. I mean, it's really relatable to pretty much everybody that I've come in contact with, whether they are married or divorced or have children. I was that difficult 14-year-old. I think it pretty much runs the gamut. It's one of those things where for 30 minutes everybody, especially parents, are going to be able to sit down and escape for a second and realize they're not alone, that they're not the only ones in that hormone hell that they're in with their children. First of all, real comedy comes from drama, and real drama, while you're in it, you're blind. Hindsight's 20/20, so when you're in it, you kind of don't know what you're supposed to do or how to handle it, and kids these days have so much technology and are so much smarter than we were. They're talking over our head and Googling and tweeting and doing all these things. So just seeing two people who have no idea how to do any of that and couldn't be further from their daughters as far as popularity or pretty or clothes or whatever. It doesn’t have to be Teenage Daughter. I don’t know anybody that has a teenage son or daughter who at some point hasn’t been like, “God, I hate them” just under their breath. It’s not meant to be literal. It’s funny.
Q: How were you difficult?
JP: Well, at 14, especially for a girl, it's hormone hell. We all think we know everything. I was very strong minded. I still am. I was emancipated at 15 and off to Japan on a contract working. I felt for my parents. I apologized profusely years later, but I was just very strong willed and strong minded and had my own idea, thought outside of the box. And coming from a small town, I really didn't fit in at all, so it was great that we did move when I was 14 to California.
Q: Were you more like the popular cool girls than the geeky dorky girls?
JP: I don't like to say dork and nerd and things like that because I think that everyone is cool in their own right. I mean, really I do. I was treated like dirt by the mean girls. I did everything I could to get away. That's why I ended up in California, and Japan because I tricked my parents. Back in North Carolina, I wasn't treated well by the mean girls. I was the outcast. I was the tomboy. I dressed like a boy. Most of my friends were boys. I begged my parents to send me away to boarding school, and I don't know any kid that does that. They refused, and I was like, "Okay. I'll handle it myself." So behind their backs I went and entered all these model searches, sent a bunch of pictures in, and long story short, I ended up becoming a spokesmodel for one of the searches. My mom and I moved out in June in '92, the month I was on my first cover of Teen Magazine. And then I went [sticks her tongue out] to the mean girls. When I came to California, it was this whole world. Where I'm from, it was only black and white, and I got along with black and white. It wasn't that. It's when I moved to California, it was like outside the box that I'd been living in. It was every different ethnic group, and it was like this melting pot of people, and I loved it. So I hung out with every group when I moved here. I got along with everybody and I always have. It was like nobody judged you here because everybody was so individual and different, and you were allowed to be different. So I loved that. My mom was the choreographer for the performing arts department back home, so I stayed in the theater the majority of the time with her in the dance studio. That was my life until we moved to California.
In North Carolina, in my tiny little town, everybody has horse blinders on in little towns. They see things one way. There's a formula you follow. You go to school. You go to college. You meet the person you're supposed to marry in college. You get out. You have your job. Immediately you get married. You have a baby within the first year. Everything is very formulated and I don't follow those formulas. I'm not as conventional. As I said, I believe in to each his own. If that works for you, great. But your chicken soup might not work for me.
Q: Has anyone from high school ever come back and found you, especially now with Facebook?
JP: I don’t do Facebook.
Q: So has anyone from high school come to find you since you’ve been famous?
JP: Whenever I go home to North Carolina to visit I run into people that I went to high school with randomly, but I still have the same best friend since I was five from back home. Katie Mack. I just took her to the airport two nights ago. She was with me in Mexico, her and her husband this past weekend. I still have the same friends from high school from when I moved to California because it's a very different group of people. Like I said, when I moved to California it was thinking outside of the box and I hung out with every group. I still have my same five girlfriends. There's the six of us that all have kids, married, divorced, whatever. We're all super tight, still best friends, very close for the last twenty years, and then I still have my Katie Mack from back home.
Q: Was it easy to keep those relationships tight or did you have to work at them?
JP: It was easy because we all went through stuff. Those are your formative years, high school, and you're twenties and stuff like that. We all went through it together. I was on my own at fifteen. So, one of them, Dawn, her parents became my parents for a long time after I got back from Japan. I lived with them on and off for years.
Q: You look so shiny right now. What do you do for your skin?
JP: I am a fanatic with taking care of my skin. Like I said, I was in Mexico and even though I had so much sun block on I tan very easy because I'm part French. Literally, I'm a lotion whore. That's literally the answer. Nivea.
Q: How do you stay in shape?
JP: I work out like G.I. Jane. The TRX, I do a lot of resistance training and more than anything I do a lot of weights.
Q: You do martial arts too, right?
JP: I did mixed martial arts.
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