From a brief first role on Young and the Restless and roles in movies such as Patch Adams and Saw to a major role in one of NBC’s most loved shows, Parenthood, Monica Potter has found her niche in the entertainment industry. With a Critics’ Choice Award and a Golden Globe Nomination, she certainly won over our hearts in her role as Kristina Braverman in Parenthood, on for 5 seasons.
Although Monica’s acting career has served as her claim to fame, we especially love her because of her real personality and her multi-passionate entrepreneurial spirit. Our Editor-in-Chief, Molly Allen, was so thrilled to have the opportunity to catch up with Monica on the phone and chat more about her website, Mrs.Potter, and the Monica Potter Home Brand. Read on to find out more about Monica’s new storefront, what inspires her, and what’s next on the books in this exclusive feature.
So how much longer are you in LA since you’re officially done with Parenthood after five whole seasons? How crazy is that!
I’m still in L.A., but now I’ll begin working on pilot production and the website. The pilot is something we’ve been talking about since the end of June, so I knew it was coming. But it was still a surprise. It’s one of those things that’s nice to have come through and hear you’ve got it! And the fact we’re working on a comedy is really refreshing.
From acting to crafting, did you always know you wanted to create and share with the world as a young girl? What path did you take to lead you to where you are now?
Growing up with my dad influenced that a lot. He was an inventor, so we were always making, doing, and creating.
My mom always worked hard to make our house a home, no matter the situation. Even with a tight budget, she’d work to make our home feel secure and protected, and that had a huge effect on me.
I love crafting and making, and I love to cook and clean. I do that in my own home with my kids, even if we’re in my trailer or staying in a motel. I took that love, and with the suggestion of a friend, I started on a smaller scale with MrsPotter.com, but now it has grown into something much bigger.
Who has served as your biggest inspiration along the way?
Both of my parents for sure. They both had an incredible work ethic that they instilled in all four of us sisters. My dad still influences me and still inspires me to get out of bed in the morning. He pushes me to do more. He was a great humanitarian and the backbone of our family. And with that drive, I have continued to work to bring commerce to areas that need it.
I know that Jessica, your sister, is definitely behind you with the Monica Potter Brand 100%. How many other team members have joined you in creating your brand and your store?
Each of my sisters play a role, and they inspired me 100% to move forward with Monica Potter Home. They’re all creative and artistic. They’re all smart, compassionate, strong women. We all have such similar personalities that so many people will say we’re just like our father. And the rest of my team is made up of the same type of person.
Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you?
“Find what you love to do and learn how to make money at it.”
Another is “Keep it simple” – I use that all the time. You really need to just stop and take a breath. Even with my teaming running around like gremlins to get things done, I have to say that. We’ll stop and meet over the phone and remind each other of that. I say that the right hand has to know what the left is doing all the time
Especially with so many other things going on in my life – being an actress, having children, my house, my marriage, I have to remind myself to keep it simple to find a balance.
What pieces of advice would you give to others who are pursuing their passion in your industry? What do you wish you would have known?
Slow down and hurry up. I’ve heard that for years, and my dad always used to say it too. It made no sense at first! Then, 10 years later, I finally figured it out. In the last year, I’ve been learning and trying to implement that idea more and more.
If you’re not grounded, you’ll make stupid mistakes in a rush.
You need to stop, breathe, look, and figure it out – which I don’t always do – my brain is always going 100 miles a minute – more like a 1000 miles a minute.
Along the way I’ve come up with all of these – what I call, Monicaisms – and people think I’m nuts because of them. But they make sense in my mind! I always tell myself to act-not react. Or, time is enough – if you scurry and hurry, you will worry.
By Developing Mrs.Potter.com, and your store that is now officially open as of February 14th, you created an outlet to share so many passions with of yours, other than being on the screen. How often do you create new content and think about new DIY projects or recipes, all in the midst of filming?
The film schedule for Parenthood was as good as you can get. And now the new multi-cam will be a good schedule as well, which is so helpful!
I usually craft on Monday or Friday. I get all of my materials ready to create and have fun. Then I shoot Friday or on the weekend, even late into the night – sometimes even in my trailer!
I do all of my own photos. I have a friend who’s a photographer that recommended a camera, so I got it, and I learned how to use it on my own. If you have good equipment, you just need to learn how to use it. I have my camera and a video camera, and my sons both study film, so that helps too!
By creating your website, your shop, and your social media following, you have truly created an outlet to connect with your fans. Your Ask Away on Twitter definitely has to be my favorite – your answers are priceless! How important is it to you to be totally real on these outlets and show the world who you truly are off screen?
Some of my videos, especially Ask Away are done on my iPhone on the fly. Then I can just put them in the Dropbox to upload. I have a girl in San Francisco that helps with my social media, and my tiny team in LA that helps me with so much. You have to have help – people with the same vision as you and people you trust. People who work hard. That makes all the difference.
Being an actress is a job – it’s not who I am. You have to separate yourself. I think having more success later in life helped with that. Had this come in my twenties, I don’t think I would have been ready. Your life lessons translate to your business and how you relate to people. I love talking to people – just like my dad did. I like to know about people, and I like insight into their struggles. It makes a conversation real. Like with the filming we’ve been doing of my childhood home that I recently purchased. I wanted to tell an incredibly real story. It’s about a community, a house, our own house, and creativity.
Obviously on the screen as well you have worked hard to be easy to relate to. Your acting career began with Young and the Restless, which you’ve certainly shared with many talk show hosts that it wasn’t your best work. But you’ve grown so much, now front and center on one of today’s most popular shows, parenthood. How do you adapt to your roles on screen to truly make them real and make them your own?
Parenthood gave us leeway to improvise. They wanted us to tell our stories and make it real – to bring own life experiences to the screen. The new show, kind of a throwback to the 80s will be similar in that way. It will show female struggles, and bring reality into the show. I like to play roles that relate to people on a personal level.
I didn’t come from money. I remember one year, we went to get a Christmas tree, but my dad didn’t have any money for the tree. So he tried to trade his Swiss army knife, but the lot keeper wouldn’t take it, so we went home that night without a tree. The next day, the church showed up with one.
God puts me in my place and tells me how to push and do. Let go and let god I always say. It’s hard to do, but you have to remember god is guiding you – you do the best you can and then let go and leave it up to fate.
What’s your best simple beauty tip?
To distress, I fill up the tub with really hot water – probably too hot – and put coconut oil on my face. I’ll add Epsom salts and lavender and peppermint oils to the bath to help me relax. Since we do bath salts through Monica Potter Home, I’m always thinking of different fragrances and oils to pair together. I develop each product with a friend and artisan in Ohio that has been doing it for years, and we always follow the seasons. Right now we’re working on floral scents, with a Crimson coming out for Valentine’s Day and a Clover for St. Patrick’s.
What’s next for Monica Potter as an entrepreneur and the Monica Potter Home Brand? I know a new pilot in the works has been announced, and things may continue to grow with the storefront opening.
It really depends on how it all goes. If the new store is well received, then yes, I’d love to add stores all over. I’d love to continue to showcase artisans in different areas like Detroit, or areas of West Virginia and bring commerce to an area that needs it.
Something else I’d like to work on is what I’m calling a Learn and Earn program, but that’s a far-off idea for now. I’d love to create a work program for graduating high school students and introduce them to artisans. With funding set up, it would help graduates with no direction and teach them a valuable craft – an apprenticeship program.
Photography: Good Housekeeping
We were so thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Monica Potter over the phone and to learn more about her brand, Monica Potter Home, as well as her personal background story.