Actress Josie Bissett is trading Hollywood for motherhood — for now anyway
BY GEORGE PELLETIER PHOTOGRAPH BY RAY KACHATORIAN
Most people get a babysitter to see a movie — not to make a movie. That was the decision that actress Josie Bissett had to make recently before deciding that being a mom easily took precedence over any immediate acting gigs. So this former Melrose Place beauty is putting her star on a shelf — at least for now.
"Right now, I'm not really looking to jump back into acting," explains Bissett, chatting from her home in Los Angeles, where her two children, Mason, three, and Mya, five months, are getting over colds. "There were a couple of television movies in Montreal that I came really close to doing, but I turned them down because of the time commitment." Since the birth of Mya, Bissett says the "logistics of things" — from traveling to getting a sitter "felt like a little too much at this point." The good news for fans is that Bissett considered taking the work in the first place. "I didn't think that acting was something that I was going to be doing anymore so the fact that I even considered the work makes me think that it's something that I'll eventually get back into.
Although Bissett is keeping busy with her little ones, and her husband of 10 years, actor Rob Estes, she's far from taking it easy. "I'm really juggling a lot," she chimes. "I have a toy line that came out in June called Babystyle Fun by Josie. It's a colorful collection that has really interesting textures and sounds that stimulate development and hand-eye coordination. Plus, I'm designing a little girls' clothing line inspired by my daughter's birth — that's with Babystyle as well. We're just starting that."
If actress/designer weren't enough, Bissett has also added author to her ever expanding resume(sic). Her first book, Little Bits Of Wisdom, contains parenting tips that she gathered from parents and grandparents around the world. "This second book is sort of a spin-off of that," she explains. "Tentatively, it's called You Never Know When You're Making A Memory. It basically deals with how to create positive memories for your children. And people are writing in with tips on what they've done with their family or what their parents did in their childhood that they consider a fond memory."
"The parenting books are great," she continues. "But I'm not an expert. I'm a new parent. And the books are filled with advice based on what other parents know." She underlines her statement: "I'm not out to look like an authority. I'm learning like everybody else."
For anyone who knows Bissett from her television roles or commercials (as the face and spokesperson for Neutrogena Cosmetics), parenting has suited her well.
"Being a parent has really changed me," she responds. "And I've always considered myself to be sort of a project person. I've always got 10 things going on — from organizing my CDs to clearing out the garage to writing a book," she laughs. "I just can't sit still."
Once her kids were born, she beams, "that became my life." Bissett says, happily, that the work that she chooses now revolves around her children and being a mother. "It helps me become a better parent and I'm extremely passionate about it."
As for hubby Estes (of Silk Stalkings, as well as Melrose Place and Suddenly Susan fame), he's been around the house. "Fortunately, he has been [here with me]," she nods. "He's been off for a little bit — especially with the birth of Mya, which was great because Mason didn't go through any of that jealousy phase and Rob was around so we could switch off nights and morning and stuff."
So, are Bissett and Estes anxious to work together again? "Ah, no," answers Bissett dryly, with a chuckle. "We're better off not working together." Scandal? Hardly. "I just think that work should be something that we can each [do separately]," she clarifies. "Acting with someone that you know so intimately, I find really difficult. I don't know how people do it. Because you know every true moment and every false moment that person is having."
So while we're on the subject, how about a Melrose Place reunion? Bissett chortles. "I'm laughing because the other night I was watching E!'s Where Are They Now? and I turned to Rob and said, 'Oh God honey, we're going to be on that show one day!'"
Commercials are one thing that Bissett doesn't mind making return appearances for. "I love doing them actually," she says. "I can work one or two days and that's perfect for me." Another gig — as close to performing as she's willing to get right now — is a new show titled Parenting and Beyond, which is filmed and produced in Delray Beach. Offering parents "creative solutions to everyday problems," the show features Bissett as host. "It's absolutely wonderful," she boasts of the show. "We hit every topic imaginable in the parenting world." Bissett will actually be trekking to Florida soon to film wrap-around segments and introductions. "It's actually the first time I will be there," she admits.
Clearly, of all her roles, being a mom is her favorite and Bissett has the right touch and proper instincts. "You know, I've noticed that in other people," she says. "That special, nurturing talent that a person either has or doesn't." Bissett learned well on the way up — she describes her family as "huge, with 30 cousins and twentysome second cousins." Family has taught her well and, fortunately, she's getting the chance to pass that wisdom on. "I always knew I wanted kids," she says with genuine glee. "I'm lucky that way." •