Kids are hard to impress — just ask Laura Dern. The 50-year-old actress has two children, ages 12 and 15, who have a rocker dad (Ben Harper, ICYMI) and consequently don’t bat an eyelash at things like their mom going to Coachella. “For all of the things that I think should excite them about opportunities that I’ve had that I find exciting, they are completely nonplussed,” Dern told Yahoo Celebrity with a laugh. “Except for Star Wars. I would say that that’s pretty exciting. My appreciating their music did not fly. Going to Coachella is not enough. They’ve grown up around music and music festivals, so they love it for them, but it’s not like, ‘Oh Mom’s so cool that she likes music.’ But Star Wars? That’s pretty cool.”
The Star Wars actress recently partnered with Johnson & Johnson and the United Nations Foundation to help make a difference in people’s lives around the globe. “To be able to make a difference, this second, in the next seven weeks, by posting content, by sharing content, by liking a photo, and have that money donated immediately to these five non-profits — it’s not only beautiful; it’s also a relief,” she explained.
As a bonus, the campaign gave her the opportunity to talk to her 12-year-old daughter about social media. “Instead of going, ‘Hey guys, it’s really important to be of service,’ I was able this morning to say to my daughter — who loves social media — ‘Oh, do you want to look at this with me? What picture do you want to like? Oh my God, look! If we like this picture, this company is going to donate money to a place. Let’s read about what these different organizations are doing,'” Dern reported.
Dern does try to implement rules about social media for her kids, but admits that it’s not always easy. “I’ve created limits that I think are important so they’re not flooded, and my daughter’s not happy about them,” Dern confessed. “Now it’s a popularity issue of who’s on social media and who isn’t, and so we just engage in really deep conversations about why I think certain things are too much and why I think certain things create opportunity. We have Instagram on my phone, which we utilize and have fun with and talk about. It’s like, ‘OK, that’s cool pop culture. I understand why you want to follow that person, so what’s a cause that you can follow at the same time? For that pop culture person, let’s also follow Greenpeace.'” In other words, for every pop culture figure her daughter follows (via Dern’s phone, mind you), she has to follow one meaningful cause.
Asked if it was getting easier or harder to parent her kids as they get older, Dern said with a laugh, “It’s easier and harder. Every age brings something new. As I’ve been told by friends who have kids in their 30s — they’ve said to me, ‘Oh my God, I’ve never been so involved with my kids’ lives as I am now.’ So it shifts with every turn in their lives, and it’s the greatest blessing in the world.”
Still, Dern realizes that being able to have this type of involvement is, in itself, a luxury. “To get to worry about things like how they’re doing in the classroom and not wanting them to be bullied — those are good problems to have, relatively speaking,” she said. She does believe the powerful, ultra-involved mother is an interesting archetype to explore, which is why she had so much fun playing Renata Klein in Big Little Lies.
Though Reese Witherspoon has already hinted that a second season of the miniseries may be in the cards, Dern said it depends on being able to create a story worthy of the screen time. “If they feel they know the story and it gives me an opportunity to be with my dearest friends and [a] beloved filmmaker, and I get to play Renata again and get to explore and discover her more deeply — what it’s like to be a woman in this world, in corporate America, where she’s one woman on a board of 15 men, and the paradigm shift of that story — I mean that’s a really interesting story for us to delve deeper into,” she said. “We certainly put a lot of stereotypes on those kinds of women, as the women in the story did. So to turn all of that on its ear — I think there would be room to have a lot more fun and say a lot more.” In other words, she’d be on board for a second round.
Dern also recently attended her first Met Ball, and while she loved paying homage to fashion, she loved the old-fashioned receiving line even more. “Well, a receiving line is always amazing because it makes you aware that you are at a ball, and while it’s somewhat old-fashioned, this one is surrounded by groundbreaking, rule-breaking fashion everywhere,” she said.
“It’s a different world than mine, but it was magical being in the room with my favorite filmmakers I’ve had the pleasure of working with — the David Lynches, the Paul Thomas Andersons — who are trying to break through any convention to tell stories.” She wore a woman’a design for the occasion, which made it all the more special for the star. “I felt privileged to wear a woman designer who is really inventive for and about fashion,” she said, noting that her dress came with a detachable train and matching cocktail jacket. “Of course a woman designed something so practical!” she added.
For Mother’s Day, Dern is planning a meal with the other moms in her community. “I reached out to all of the moms at my kids’ school who I know help raise my kids, and said, ‘Let’s all have a meal together so that we can thank each other, because we know that we can never do it alone.’ My son has spent the night for four days, while I’m here in New York doing press, with other moms,” she said.
Dern said she is attempting to organize and host the gathering, but knowing this group, she’s sure everyone will end up pitching in. “It takes a village,” she said. It certainly does.
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