Actress-author Busy Philipps shared how her 2018 published memoir inspired her to share a personal story on TV at the Aerie REALtreat conference in downtown Los Angeles Saturday afternoon.
Arriving from an earlier event with BookSparks in conversation with Taylor Jenkins Reid and Abdi Nazemian in Hollywood, the This Will Only Hurt a Little memoirist spoke to about 150 attendees at a fireside chat at Rolling Greens Nursery in the Arts District with Work Party author and Create & Cultivate CEO Jaclyn Johnson about how her recently canceled late night talk show was another vehicle to share her abortion story. Though she told the story in her book, Busy said she hadn’t shared it publicly until last month in response to the Georgia abortion bill.
“It’s all crazy, but writing about it in my book prepared me for when the extreme abortion bans happened,” she said. “First of all, the Georgia ban was passed the Monday after I had found out that my show was canceled. We didn’t tell people for five weeks, so I knew my show was canceled, and that’s when the Georgia ban was passed through their Senate, but the governor hadn’t signed it in yet.
“So my initial feeling was that I wanted to do it that day. However, my husband and I talked about it, and he said, ‘I don’t want E! to think you’re going on television to talk about your abortion in some way because they canceled your show’… I just didn’t want any of the message to be convoluted.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, also known as the “heartbeat bill” on May 7. That same day, Busy aired her story on Busy Tonight, in which she said she didn’t let the network know about her decision to share her story because she felt it would lessen the potency or stop the story from being told. She said the show submitted a full script, which she wrote, while she personally placed it in the teleprompter, so the weight of the impact would be all on her. Her last show aired May 16.
Last Tuesday, she was a guest speaker at the “Threats to Reproductive Rights in America” House Judiciary Committee hearing.
“The timing of things with being able to go testify at the House Judiciary Committee; I wouldn’t have been able to do if my show on E! that 40 people watched was still on,” Busy quipped.
Busy is an #AerieREAL role model. Aerie is the intimate apparel lifestyle offshoot of American Eagle Outfitters. In partnership with Create & Cultivate (disclosure: I’m an insider), the event focused on tapping into women’s power for entrepreneurial success.
Regardless of getting an abortion at 15 years old, Busy said she’s felt the emotional toll on making the decision.
“It’s something I had never spoken about publicly, but I held a great deal of shame about for many many years,” she said. “When I wrote my memoir, I knew I wanted to talk about it. But I knew that it would be difficult for my family. I felt very strongly in sharing the whole story.”
She said her talk show was a creative vehicle for storytelling expression and hopes it can be revived via another outlet.
“It speaks to the other thing which was why I wanted even to do a late night talk show in the first place,” she said. “We know that diversity and representation in the media of all kinds makes a difference in our media and having a female voice in late night television is important, especially when our country is dealing with lots of different issues that affect women.”