Annie Potts: Wise Women Over 50

EPISODE 20

Today we continue our Wise Women Over 50 Series with my friend, Annie Potts. Annie shares her life experience as a woman, a mother with a formidable career, and a wife, while we try to feed off of her amazing energy and wisdom. We share the funny story of how we met, as well as both my son’s and her son’s ADHD and her overall love and respect for women, equality and change. We laugh a lot too!

Annie Potts is an award winning Hollywood actress, staring in many well known shows and movies, like “Young Sheldon”, “Designing Women”, "Pretty in Pink", "Ghostbusters", “Love & War”, “Toy Story” and many more. She is also a Broadway actress, a board member and drama professor Stephens College in Missouri, an ambassador for White Pony Express and a children’s book author.


She and her husband, director/producer Jim Hayman joined another industry couple to form “All Are One,” an organization created to alleviate the suffering of so many folks during the Coronavirus pandemic. Their focus is to gather donations to gift anonymously to people in need. The initiative kicked off in Northern California and is now expanding across the country.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT


Doryn Wallach:

Welcome to It's Not A Crisis. I am your host Doryn Wallach. I'm an entrepreneur, a mother of two, a wife and a 40 something trying to figure out what is happening in this decade. Why is no one talking about it? I created this podcast to help women in their late 30s and 40s to figure out, what is going on in our mind, body, soul and life? We may laugh. We may cry. We may get frustrated, but most importantly, my goal is to make this next chapter of life positive. I'm also full of my own questions and I'm here to go on this journey with you. So let's do it together.

Hey everyone. So today I am interviewing the one and only, Annie Potts, and this is my first celebrity interview ever. So I'm really, really excited about it. I met Annie in a crazy way, and you will hear about that in the podcast, but she is just the most wonderful, spiritual ball of light. And I am so honored that she accepted my invitation to come onto the podcast and be the number two episode in the Wise Women Over 50 series. So I know that you're going to learn a lot from this, you're going to laugh from this and you're just going to fall in love with her the way that I did when I first met her. I'm sure you've seen her in it but Annie, returned series television in the highly anticipated pre-qual Young Sheldon from creators, Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro, and it is so good.

On the CBS hit comedy, her character Meemaw, which she's amazing at ranks among the many iconic female roles Potts has created, including the wonderful Mary Jo Shively from Designing Women. How my Southern accent? Not very good. Her work in Love & War garnered her an Emmy nomination, and with any day now she'll two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. In addition, she's played recurring roles in Chicago Med, Law & Order SVU, The Fosters. As well as guest starring on Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, which my 13-year-old is obsessed with right now, Major Crimes and Two and a Half Men, such a good show. Potts also started the Hallmark movies, The Music Teacher and Freshman Father, along with Marry Me for Lifetime.

Potts reprised her role as the memorable Bo Peep in the highly successful fourth installment of Toy Story which won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. She originated the character in the first Toy Story and appeared again in Toy Story 2, which I think I cried in that one. I can't remember which one, but I cried. It's the fire scene, was very devastating to me. Her numerous other feature film credits include the Ghostbusters franchise, Texasville, The Last Picture Show, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Who’s Harry Crumb?, King of the Gypsies and Corvette Summer, for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination. Recent credits include Happy Anniversary for Netflix, along with Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town and Humor Me, both of which debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Potts made her Broadway debut in Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning black comedy God of Carnage and also appeared in the long-running Pippin. She appeared in off-Broadway productions of The Vagina Monologues, Diva, Love Letters, Charley’s Aunt, The Merchant of Venice, A Little Night Music, Cymbeline and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, a little bit of a tongue twister, but I got it. I got it. On the west coast, she received rave reviews for her performance as a distraught wife dealing with her husband’s suicide in Aftermath. The play received the LA Times’ Critics Choice Ovation Recommendation. Born in Nashville and raised in Kentucky, Potts, was the youngest of three girls interested in stage and film at an early age. She received her BFA in theater from Stephens College in Missouri, where she’s currently a visiting professor of drama and a dedicated board member.

Potts is also an ambassador for White Pony Express, an organization that feeds and clothes those in need in the Bay Area. Additionally, she wrote a children’s book about a young boy named Kemarley Brooks, titled Kemarley of Anguilla, with all proceeds going to the Arijah Children’s Foundation, an important cause in Anguilla. Recently, Potts along with her husband director, producer Jim Hayman joined another industry couple to form All Are One. An organization created to alleviate the suffering of so many folks during the coronavirus pandemic. Their focus is to gather donations to gift anonymously to people in need. The initiative kicked off and Northern California, and it's now expanding across the country. So needless to say, this woman is amazing. Annie, welcome to the show. I'm so happy to have you here.


Annie Potts:

Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me.


Doryn Wallach:

I want to start by telling how we met because it's a very funny story.


Annie Potts:

Yeah.


Doryn Wallach:

When we first met, we were on a day trip, remember, to those beautiful islands. Wait, let me preface this with, my 40th birthday, my husband sent myself and three best friends on the most amazing trip to Peru. It was the best thing I've ever done. And we were taking a boat to this little amazing island. I don't even know, what was it called? Where they were reeds, it was made out of.


Annie Potts:

No. Actually we had met on the train to Machu Picchu first.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, that was first, you're right. You're right. Oh, right. You walked by-


Annie Potts:

I think you and your friends had been drinking.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah, that was our really drunk first night. Not first, was it first? Wait, I had really bad altitude sickness so I didn't really drink on this trip. And after we did wine at Picchu, I was like, "Let's drink. Let's go." And yeah, so we drank a lot that night.


Annie Potts:

And we met on that fabulous train, the Orient Express acceptance, the Peruvian express.


Doryn Wallach:

It was beautiful.


Annie Potts:

So fantastic. And you girls sure looked like you were having fun.


Doryn Wallach:

Well, that's how it started because you walked by and you said that, something along those lines. And I said something like, "Oh, I like your look." And then you asked where we're from and we were talking, and this sounds terrible, I knew you were somebody but I couldn't... It was your voice that was just, I kept saying, "God, her voice," and my friends are going, "God, her voice is so familiar." But I'm not one of those people, I've never been, who if I see a celebrity I'll bother them. I'm just not like that. So I was like, just let it be. So then we went on the trip to the island, together, because we were staying at the same hotel in Titicaca, right?


Annie Potts:

Titicaca.


Doryn Wallach:

Titicaca. Oh, yeah, Titicaca.


Annie Potts:

The steeliest name ever.


Doryn Wallach:

I have a sweatshirt that says Titicaca.


Annie Potts:

How many people can actually say, "Hey, we got to know each other in Titicaca."


Doryn Wallach:

So true. Right. So we wrote in a boat together over there. So we're walking around, I'm going to almost have to post pictures on social media because I can't even explain what we were walking around on.


Annie Potts:

Yes. They're little islands that have been handmade by the reeds that grow in Lake Titicaca. It's like walking on top of a water mattress, and they live there.


Doryn Wallach:

Do you think they put those outfits on for us or do you think they always wear those beautiful, colorful clothes?


Annie Potts:

I think that's it.


Doryn Wallach:

They had an 18-month-old son who I just kept looking at and going, "Oh my God, the kid's going to go off the island." He was just running round.


Annie Potts:

Yes. But they've adapted that, totally. But it was an interesting place to me.


Doryn Wallach:

It was. So Katie, my friend. Katie, she'll talk to anybody and she's a little outspoken. But she's like, "I just have to figure out, it's driving me crazy." So she walks up to you and said, "What are you in? What do you do? Why is your voice so familiar?" And you said, "Well, do you have children?" And we said, "Yes." And you said, "Well, you must know me as Bo Peep from Toy Story." And we're like, "No." Because I feel like it's been a long time since we've watched Toy Story. Although, I love Toy Story. And then you said, "How old are you?" And you mentioned Designing Women. And we were like, "Oh my God, of course." And then of course, after we met you we were like, Pretty in Pink and Ghostbusters.

And then we saw you at the hotel and then it was our checkout day. And we all were on our way to the airport. As we pulled into the airport, we were on a road full of dirt, mounds and hundreds and hundreds of protesters that were forming a human barricade and burning stuff. And the hotel said, "All right, well, this is where we're going to leave you. And we're like, "What? You're leaving us here in the middle of this." And the airport was not close. We had a walk and we had our luggage, my friend Katie was in wedges. It was very funny.


Annie Potts:

And we were on a very first-class trip, you know? Actually, my husband, he wanted to go there for his 50th birthday and then it, I think it was postponed to 60. And you were having your 40th. So we were taking advantage of the celebration. It was first class and they just dumped us off literally by a dumpster fire with tires and said, "Get your luggage and get out."


Doryn Wallach:

I have pictures. I mean, I have pictures of us pulling in and pictures out of the window of the van. People like just thinking, are you serious, this is where we're getting out?


Annie Potts:

But then you girls proved yourself to be, wow, just so sensationally organized and competent. You kind of got us out of that mess because we were sitting on the floor in the airport, which then closed. And we had to get out. Everybody had to planes to catch in limbo.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. They canceled all the flights.


Annie Potts:

I don't know which one of you managed to get through, but you managed to get us a van. And we had to take, a what, seven, eight hour drive to [inaudible 00:10:54]. Once we got out of the burning tires, again, it was like smoking volcanoes.


Doryn Wallach:

There actually this human barricade of men and women. They were protesting education or something, but I-


Annie Potts:

Teachers grand strick.


Doryn Wallach:

Right. Teachers. But wow, they really take it to the next level there. And I don't speak Spanish well. I did not do well in Spanish. And I kept trying to say, I was scared and I was trying to get through. And I was trying to explain that I needed to get home to my kids. And I kept saying, [inaudible 00:11:26]. And Liz is going, "You're saying the wrong thing. They don't know what you're saying." Anyway, so we get on this van. Before making sure we had beer with us. I think, Harry, your son got us some beer.


Annie Potts:

Yes. Yeah, a 20 something can always find a beer.


Doryn Wallach:

Right. But then we're on this van and I'm A, we have no service on our phones and B we're all like, where the hell are we going? We don't even know where we were going. We were somewhere in the middle of the country. And you guys were getting on a flight from there, but we had to find a hotel and stay there for the night. And I remember calling my husband and I was like, "I'm going to drop a pin, so you could see where I am because I don't know where I am."


Annie Potts:

Well, roads were closed because the teachers knew that the only way to shut down the country was to mess up tourist plans because the country is so dependent on it.


Doryn Wallach:

Right. That was a bonding way to start a friendship.


Annie Potts:

It was. Well, that's one of the reasons why travel is so great because things like that happen. Well, Machu Picchu was pretty amazing. And we did a little stint on the Amazon, too. But what I remember is trying to get out of the country with you guys.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. That was the biggest memory and, Oh God, I just have so many funny pictures. I have a picture of you actually. I think I've sent it to you, just kind of walking with your luggage or I think, Jim, had your luggage and you have a big smile on your face and I have a video or I'm walking by and they're looking at me and I'm like, "Hi, how are you?"


Annie Potts:

Well, when you take a trip like that, I mean, aren't you really looking for an adventure?


Doryn Wallach:

Yes. Oh, 100%. That's why that was all I wanted for my birthday. I was like, "I don't want to party. I love to travel. I just want to be with my closest people. And I want to see things I don't see." So I certainly got that on that day.


Annie Potts:

In spades, man, in spades.


Doryn Wallach:

What I wanted to start talking about, because obviously my demographic late 30s and 40s, many of you remember Annie from Pretty in Pink. And I was pretty young. I was about nine when Pretty in Pink came up, but I still saw it. And I've seen it 100 times since then. I don't know if I got it as much, but I distinctly remember, and I'm not saying this because you're on here. I distinctly remember that your character, Iona, stuck out to me the most as a little kid, when you're looking at, it wasn't like, "Ooh, I want to be like Molly Ringwald." Like, "I want to be like her." First of all, and I've talked to you about my mother before, there was definitely a part of your character that reminded me of my mom.

But also, I just loved that you were your own person and in this part, but you had the biggest heart and you were really warm and loving. And I was watching it. So the other night I was like, okay, I'm going to watch it again because I haven't seen it in a while before I speak to Annie and I fell asleep. So I had to then watch it again. I don't know if you've ever heard this quote, Howard Deutch, he was the director of the movie. I read this quote that said, "I saw the character of Iona as having a shoulder big enough for the world to cry on. I chose Annie because I got the sense that she was exactly that way." You really are.


Annie Potts:

That's so sweet. I've never heard that before. Isn't that lovely? That's just the kind of a review that an actor loves.


Doryn Wallach:

Well, and you know what though, first of all, I can speak from experience that that it's so true. You're so genuine and warm and have such a wonderful spirit, but you're also, I'm going to get in a little bit. I'm going to get into how you actually helped me and really didn't need to do that, but can we just go backtrack a little bit. Tell the listeners working on Pretty in Pink, is there any, I don't know, juice or information or something about the movie or the cast or whatever that you remember fondly or?


Annie Potts:

Well, I think that it was... I think I was 32 when I did that. So I was pretty young, but I was the oldest actor in it. Aside from that, that there wasn't a parent. And I was thinking, I hadn't really been in that situation where I was the older. I'm the youngest of three girls, so I always think, here I'm 100 now and I still think of myself as the baby. So anyway, in that situation I was the oldest. So it was interesting to be put in that role as the one who people go to instead of the one who is seeking help from others. And that was interesting for me, the kids are so young. I mean, Molly, was I think 18. Jon Cryer was 19. James Spader was young and so gorgeous, wow.


Doryn Wallach:

So gorgeous. We were talking about his hair the other night when we were watching it. Tai was like, "Look at that hair. That was good hair."


Annie Potts:

And now he has no hair.


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. I know.


Annie Potts:

He's a wonderful actor. He was so complicated in that. Anyway, it was fun to do that. And that film has really had legs, as they say. I don't think we are, or maybe just because I'm not aware of it, this generation now doesn't have somebody like John Hughes who is writing for them where it's like, we really get you. We really get your struggles. And so, I was so pleased to be a part of that because now, let's see, that's 30 years. Is that three generations? Yeah. It's three generations of people who come into knowing that film. And it still holds up.


Doryn Wallach:

My daughter's 13 and she, and all of her friends have watched it. And hopefully she'll tell her daughter one day, but it's just one of those movies that you're like, I remember when I was trying to get her to get her... She's like, "I don't like old movies." I'm like, "It's not," I don't think it was an old movie. When my mother wanted me to watch movies from the 20s and 30s I was like, I don't want to watch that. And I guess that, we're there now.


Annie Potts:

Yeah, you are. I bet you watch those movies from the 20s and 30s now, don't you.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, yeah. Now I enjoy them, then not so much. But she actually, she loved Pretty in Pink and I think that you're right, there aren't movies today that speak to this generation. And it's such a complicated generation too, so.


Annie Potts:

Bless their hearts with this COVID thing. Oh my God. Of course, it'll make them. And it will define their generation, like every big crisis, world wars and other pandemics and things define that generation. And I think that will give them, right now it's agony, but it will give them a cohesion later. It's like, wow. Yeah, you came up in that. And it will be such a badge of honor, I think. I think we have to keep our minds on the big, big picture. She was tough now though, I don't envy them.


Doryn Wallach:

No. I was a sociology major and I'm so fascinated for the future and how they were formed because of this and social media and everything else. It'll be interesting. But I'll tell you, my kids have become a lot more independence as the pandemic because I've just been like not doing anything anymore. "Mommy's done, the job's over. Now it's your turn. Have fun. Make your own dinner. Bye-bye."


Annie Potts:

Yeah, they can do that. They're old enough to do that.


Doryn Wallach:

They are old enough to do that. Speaking of kids, you have a wonderful husband who we met and three wonderful sons who, if I researched this correctly, are 39, 28 and 24.


Annie Potts:

Yes.


Doryn Wallach:

Okay. And we met Harry when we were on our trip. He was such a sweet kid. Now I sound old. He's such a sweet kid.


Annie Potts:

I know, he's about to turn 25.


Doryn Wallach:

Right. But you always, you glow. I remember when I was with you, you just glow when you talk about your boys.


Annie Potts:

Oh, I'm nuts about my boys.


Doryn Wallach:

Oh, that's so lovely.


Annie Potts:

They're amazing. And of course, I think every working mother worries about that. When my oldest son I felt was old enough to be approached, I went, you know, "Wow, I sure was working a lot when you were little." Drag you round and lived in hotels, on locations and stuff. And I was always working, and I thought maybe that I had failed somewhere as a parent. And I said, you know, "Did you feel like it wasn't there? If so, I'm sorry." He was like, "No, no, mom. It was okay."


Doryn Wallach:

That's so interesting. And thank you. That's such a good piece of wisdom for us because I had spoken about this on another episode, we've had a few episodes on starting a business or working at our age or going back into the workforce after having children and women, moms have so much guilt over working, even if you don't necessarily have to work financially, but you want to work. There's this guilt about doing that, and there shouldn't be.


Annie Potts:

Well, look, what's happened now during COVID. 80% or something like that of women who have had to give up their work, and men aren't giving up their work. The women are giving up their work because the children are home and somebody has to be there with them to mind their lessons and things. So I think this is going to be an interesting problem. I mean, all over again, women are going to have to try to get back into the workforce when we get this problem resolved.

But I thought, "Well, we're always the ones that take the hit aren't we?" I mean, and think of the essential workers that maybe we didn't appreciate so much before, those who came to nanny or clean our houses and stuff. It's a whole other thing, isn't it?


Doryn Wallach:

Yeah. Yeah. I've talked about this a lot, it's sad. Because I think even as moms before COVID, we have this disadvantage where if you really want a big career, you're not going to see your kids as much. And there's always this back and forth in so many women's heads into am I being a good mom, am I a bad mom because I'm doing this or that. And now, it's almost as if we have no choice, a lot of women don't right now. And certainly didn't sign up to be teachers at home all day with their kids.

So yeah, it's been tough. I do think though, women are so amazing, and especially my generation of women who were kind of neglected a little bit as kids and sort of left to be more independent. I feel like we're going to come out of this stronger with amazing business ideas and amazing ways of things that we're going to start doing in our 50s.


Annie Potts:

I totally agree. Well, crisis always incubates innovation, always. For those of us who have to stay at home, I think we'll walk out of this with a lot of good ideas. I mean, my youngest son was in graduate school and he's a poet. And at first he was so, he was so disappointed and I thought, no, this is a gift to worst, man. I mean, where the whole world is in turmoil, that for a writer is gold. You know what I mean? It's like, well, this is an opportunity to... I mean, if writers don't talk about the state of the world and internal dimensions of that and stuff, it's like, wow, you got a lot of great material here.


Doryn Wallach:

I mean, so much material. You did the most wonderful thing, and I hope you don't mind me bringing it up. But right around the time I met Annie, my son was really struggling in school. He was diagnosed with ADHD, seven at the time, I think. Had a horrible, horrible school experience. And I don't remember if we, we probably talked about it at some point in our hours together. But you were so kind and you were coming to New York and you said, "Let's have tea or coffee or whatever and sit and talk." And you spent, it could have been well over an hour with me just talking as somebody who has boys, has experienced similar things. And I know that I've expressed to you how much that meant to me, but for you to go out of your way to do that for me, for someone you didn't know that well, that says so much about who you are as a person.

And I can tell you that your words of wisdom in that conversation, first of all gave me confidence that my son was going to be okay. Which I kind of know, and I can say this as his mom, I was sort of not worried about him. It was more about how he was being treated by the school. And then I had pulled him out and was applying to schools. So I think we were talking about the types of schools and you were just... So that's a whole other episode for me to talk about, because I have such a bad experience, but it has turned into, now such a beautiful experience in the new school that he's in and he's thriving. He just took his IC exams for middle school and scored 90 across the board on everything. But more importantly he's a little artist and such a good kid.


Annie Potts:

I think I was probably that kid, too.


Doryn Wallach:

I think I was too, by the way.