Series 12: For the Love of TV | Episode 03
Kimberly Williams-Paisley: Lighting up our TV Screens and Her World
This week we’re rolling out the red carpet for a woman with a ton of talent and a heart of gold: Jen’s delightful friend, actor Kimberly Williams-Paisley! You’ve seen Kim in TV and movies since the ‘90s when she got her breakthrough role in Father of the Bride as Steve Martin and Diane Keaton’s onscreen daughter Annie Banks. More recently you’ve seen Kim playing bad-girl Peggy Kenter in Nashville and her stints in fun Hallmark movies like Darrow & Darrow. Jen and Kim dish about the behind-the-scenes fun that goes on with a TV cast and crew: the commercials Kim did for “all the uncomfortable products” when she was just getting started, and the special skills involved with “fake dying” on TV. She tells us how she’s navigated a career that allows her to have a full life with her family: husband Brad Paisley and sons Huck and Jasper. Kim’s commitment to family is particularly poignant as she shares how her family walked alongside her mom as she battled Alzheimer’s, which inspired Kim’s heartbreaking yet hopeful book, Where the Light Gets In. And just when you think Kim’s heart couldn’t get any bigger, she gives us a sneak peek at the amazing organization she and Brad are launching in Nashville. She’s a bright light indeed, so we’re just gonna say “you’re welcome” for this refreshing dose of goodness in your week.
Narrator: Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people, every week, on this podcast. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoy the show.
Jen: Hey, guys. Jen Hatmaker here, host of the For the Love Podcast. Welcome back to the show this week. I love having you here, as always.
We are having the best time in this series. I am all in. We are in the middle of For the Love of TV. Who doesn’t love TV? You know that I love TV. I’ve talked about my shows with you for years. Right now is a good time for TV. There’s something for everyone these days. Everything is streaming. We can watch anything, anywhere, anytime. Cable, Netflix, YouTube, on our laptops, on our phones. What a time to be alive.
You know this if you have been around me at all, but you know I think the world of today’s guest. I mean, this is my friend and she is so dear to me. There’s just no bones about it. I am not impartial here, and I am not trying to be. Every ounce of her is talent and light and beauty. She has a heart of gold, which I want you to know that about her. I’m thrilled to talk with my wonderful friend, Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
Of course you know Kim. You know her from her absolute breakthrough role in ‘91 when she played Steve Martin and Diane Keaton’s daughter in Father of the Bride: Annie Banks, our beloved Annie Banks. And since, of course, Kim has worked on all kinds of TV and film projects. She’s had a very robust career.
You may know her husband, too. He’s doing alright in his genre. I think his career’s probably going to catch some traction any day now. She’s married to country superstar Brad Paisley. They have made two of the most adorable boys in the entire universe, Huck and Jasper, and I’m not kidding you about that. These are two of the cutest kids you’ve ever seen. They live, of course, in Nashville.
Speaking of Nashville, do you remember when Kim played crazy Peggy Kenter in the TV show Nashville? I hope you watched Nashville. Oh my gosh. We watched it like our lives depended on it. I never knew what Peggy was going to do next, but I knew it wasn’t going to be good because she was so sneaky. It was fun to watch my friend play that role, because she’s so nice and Peggy was so bad.
Anyway, in addition to all of her acting, which we’re going to talk about, she is a writer. Kim is a writer. In fact, two years ago, she wrote a New York Times bestselling book called Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again. It was all about her mom, Linda, and her battle with Alzheimer’s and the years of struggle that Kim’s family went through as they cared for her and then ultimately lost her. It’s heartbreaking, it’s funny, it’s harrowing, it’s warm, it’s accessible. It made me feel all the feelings. We have had a lot of Alzheimer’s in our family, and so it was just so familiar and comforting. She did a very masterful job telling that story. She is a beautiful writer.
Another thing that you’re going to learn in this little chat of ours is Kim’s heart for serving people. We are going to talk about her work in the world and what she and Brad do together, what she and I have done together. We’re going to tell you about our trip to Capitol Hill in July, and fundraisers that she holds and work that she is doing. She’s got a whole new initiative that you are going to go crazy for, so I can’t wait for you to hear more about that.
She’s just so good and so dear. I’m so delighted to share this chat with you today. So without any further ado, please welcome actor, author, philanthropist, and my friend, Kim Williams-Paisley, to the show.
Hello, my friend. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast. I am so happy you’re here. Hi.
Kim: Hi, Jen Hatmaker!
Jen: We were just talking before we started recording about what are you doing right this minute. We are twins is what we are.
Kim: I have my hair in a bun on top of my head.
Jen: Yep, same.
Kim: And it’s dirty.
Kim: And we were talking about how we both are wearing glasses that are also dirty.
Jen: Also dirty. Yes. Same. And pajamas.
Kim: Yes, pajamas. And there’s a sink full of dishes downstairs that we’re ignoring.
Jen: The dogs have been kicked out of the office because they bother the show. Yeah, I mean, this is all literally, we are living same lives.
Kim: This is the great thing about a podcast is you can do it anywhere.
Jen: Preach. That is why this is the best thing that I do because it’s in my office, at my house, and nobody can see me. Absolutely nobody.
Kim: I can picture you. I can picture you pretty well.
Jen: I’m so glad to have you on. I was telling you before that, you know, we are friends and my community has just been asking for you for so long, like, “If you do not put Kim on the podcast, we are going to riot.”
Kim: I love your community!
Jen: They love you, too. So thank you for coming on today. And it’s perfect because we’re in a series for the Love of TV and this is your genre.
Jen: You have so much. I mean we could talk for a million years about all you have seen and done and experienced in TV. It’s like hilarious and fun.
Obviously, our listeners already know you, and I’ve told them a little bit more about kind of who you are. But let’s, if you would, just for a minute, if we could kind of go back to little Kim. Lil’ Kim, will you tell everybody a little bit about where you grew up and who was in your family, what kind of a kid you were. Were you, did your north star point this direction from a young age?
Kim: It did. In fact, when I was, I think I remember being about five and putting on a show. My favorite thing was to put on a show in the living room. My parents poor friends, because I charged them. I charged them money. They were stuck, and I made them pay. I was a businesswoman from early on.
Jen: Oh my gosh.
Kim: We put on these, I’m sure they were lengthy shows in the living room that were rehearsed right before the performance.
Kim: I was the oldest of three, so I have a younger brother, Jay, and a younger sister, Ashley. So I was the boss and the director and the star, by the way. I had to star.
Jen: Of course.
Kim: Then we would go around and we’d collect. It was like 5 cents, 25 cents, I don’t know.
Kim: But I loved performing at a young age.
I grew up in New York. My parents were writers. They were not performers, necessarily, but they supported my dream. And when I was like 12 or 13, they let me start going into New York and auditioning.
I was also a ballerina. I loved to perform, and I loved doing dance and ballet. So coincidentally, the first audition I ever had, I booked. It was for National Dairy Board, and I was a ballerina in the commercial.
Kim: I was so excited. I bragged to everybody that I was in this commercial. I went, it was so much fun. I loved being on a set. Then I wound up getting cut out of the commercial.
Jen: You did not!
Kim: Except for the bun on top of my head, not unlike the one I’m wearing right now, and my wrist. There’s like a close up on my wrist doing a balletic move.
Jen: Oh my gosh.
Kim: And my little toes that were en point at the time. So I wound up getting paid like I was a principle in it, and wound up getting residuals for years.
Jen: Are you serious?
Kim: For years of not getting cast in anything else.
Jen: For your bun and your toe.
Kim: It paid for my headshots, and it paid for all those trips into Manhattan. And then I didn’t get anything for a really long time. But it was funny because I just loved doing it. I loved the business of it.
Jen: I applaud your parents because that was a little risky on their part, for sure. “We’re going to send out 7th grader into Manhattan to audition for these things, and maybe her heart is going to get crushed.”
Jen: That was risky in more than one way. I loved that they just let you go for it.
Kim: By the way, I look back now on what they actually let me do and I’m shocked. They let me take the train into the city by myself. I went by myself!
Jen: And you’re 12 or 13.
Kim: Yes! I would never. I mean, Huck’s 11, my oldest son’s 11. I can’t imagine in a year going into New York City, letting him ride the train and the subway . . .
Kim: Letting him just go do it, but that, it was a different time.
Jen: It honestly was a different time. And I love stories like that, like the parents of the 70s and the 80s that we had and what they let us do.
Jen: Go forward to the next part. So you’re just a kid. You get your semi-ballerina commercial. So what happens next in your acting career because you’re young and everything is new and shiny? Who is helping you? Who’s representing you? What are the next things that you are auditioning for, and when does it catch traction?
Kim: Yeah, so I got an agent. My first agent was the William Morris Agency, which was really huge, because I had a dear friend, Anna Holbrook, who took some pictures of me. I just recently actually posted one of those from when I was about 13.
Jen: I saw it.
Jen: I saw little Kim.
Kim: I was such an awkward middle schooler. I hated middle school. I actually broke out in hives every time I went into the gym. I was just so uncomfortable in my own skin. So bless her heart, she took me into the backyard, put some makeup on. I’d never worn makeup. It was her makeup. She showed me what to do.
She took these pictures and then she sent them to her agent at William Morris. It turned out that that was too big of an agency for me, and I kind of got lost there. It was like a quick burst into this high-level place that I didn’t need to be.
I actually wound up going to a smaller agency a couple years later called FBI, Frontier Booking International, in New York City. I had a dear friend there who was my agent, a couple dear friends. I loved the people there. It was a very small agency, and I would go in there and just hang out, you know? I’d have an audition and then I would just go to the agency and hang out. It was a great time.
Of course, as we said, I was by myself half the time. I would go after school if I had an audition. So I got used to missing things in school a lot. I was on the soccer team, and I’d often have to miss practice and stuff like that.
Kim: But then when I was like a junior, I think I was a junior in high school, or a senior in high school, I booked an after-school special. You remember those ABC after school specials?
Jen: Do I? Yes, of course.
Kim: Okay. So I did one called Stood Up.
Kim: It was based on a true story about a girl who got stood up for the prom, and she sued the guy that stood her up because she had paid for the dress and, of course, there was emotional distress.
Kim: I did not play her. I played Vanessa, the bad girl that stole the guy away.
Jen: Oh, you were mean!
Kim: Yeah, I was Mean Vanessa.
Jen: Mean Vanessa.
Kim: And I got to ride on a little motor scooter with my boyfriend.
Kim: I was terrible in it. I was so . . . I was bad.
Jen: I cannot wait to look it up.
Kim: Oh my gosh.
Jen: I’m just dying to just get one glimpse of it. Stood Up.
Kim: It was hilarious. But again, I had so much fun.
Oh, and I also started booking commercials again. I started getting, like now it wasn’t ballet and National Dairy Board. It was Clearasil. I literally did Clearasil, Stridex, OB Tampons. I did all the uncomfortable products.
And the OB Tampons commercials is hysterical, and you can find that online.
Jen: Oh, it’s thrilling.
Jen: Oh my gosh. So you’re like pimples and periods.
Jen: Like this is your genre.
Kim: That was my jam, yeah.
Then I went off to college.
Jen: Yeah. Northwestern?
Kim: And I went to Northwestern, yeah. I told my agent I was putting all of that stuff on hold. You know, “Love you dearly, but I’m going to go learn how to actually act and go and do the theater program at Northwestern and get training and all of that.” That lasted about a year, and then I got Father of the Bride right after college.
Jen: That worked out.
Jen: That did okay.
Kim: That did alright. So yeah, and then I went back to school afterward.
Jen: Was that weird to go back to school?
Kim: So weird.
Jen: Yeah, I bet it was. I mean were you like, Why am I here? I just want to get out of here. Or, were you enjoying your classes or like a combination of both?
Kim: That’s a great question. It was the first time that I really was there because I really wanted to be. Because there was this whole other life for me now in California and plenty of people, by the way, who were saying “What are you doing? You should not be going back to school.”
Jen: Sure. I’m sure they were.
Kim: I went back because I wanted to be there. I believed in what I was getting there, and I wanted that experience. I knew that if I left, I would never have that time again. I could always go back to school later as an older person, but I wouldn’t have that time with my peers. So I was so glad to do it.
But it was so weird going back and having the spotlight on me.
Jen: Oh, I can imagine.
Kim: I remember the worst review I ever got was for the second movie I did after Father of the Bride. It was called Indian Summer, and the worst review I ever got in my life was from my Northwestern newspaper.
Kim: Yes! I was sitting in the student center, just like having a cup of coffee, opened up the little Northwestern Daily and read it and felt like, Oh my gosh, everyone’s looking at me.
It was really hard to go back and have that spotlight on me, you know?
Jen: Was that written by a student?
Jen: They were just jealous. Just jealous. I’m mad at that person. That person is my enemy now.
Kim: I know. I have to let it go.
Jen: I’m not. I will never let it go. I’m mad forever. Did I just text you? I think I meant to text you if I didn’t. I literally just watched Indian Summer.
Kim: Are you serious?
Jen: I meant to text you. We were watching Indian Summer, and you’re just such a fresh, fresh face baby in it. I loved that movie. I loved it the first time it came out.
Kim: Well, thanks.
Jen: I love that cast. It’s so campy. It gave me all these feelings of like nostalgia.
Anyway, so you finished college, you finished your degree there?
Kim: Yeah. I did.
Jen: Sort of move forward into your 20s where, I mean, you’ve just kind of had all kinds of stuff. The scope of your work is really broad and awesome, like TV and movies. And if none of that ever pans out, you can always just be in Brad’s music videos.
Kim: Yeah, right?
Jen: As a career path for you.
Kim: Totally. Or I can like summon my siblings back into my living room and order them around and put on shows for friends that come over.
Jen: So true. For a fee, of course.
Kim: Yes, of course.
Jen: So you’ve had some really long stints in TV. According to Jim.
Jen: And then of course more recently, Nashville.
Jen: Just enormous fan fave show for sure.
Kim: Thank you.
Jen: I’ve seen you do all kinds of work. I’ve watched you in so many different things. Do you enjoy acting in comedies or dramas more? Because you’ve done both.
Kim: I think, I mean I love that I can do both. I love being able to go back and forth. And I think there’s nothing like being in a show that’s funny and knowing it’s funny, having fun doing it and knowing that people are laughing. Or like, in According to Jim, actually making people laugh and getting to feel the audience there.
Jen: Oh yeah.
Kim: Some of my best moments as an actor are really like when I’ve been able to make people really laugh. I love that.
Jen: How did you manage that pace? Was that pace kind of, at that point, were you accustomed to it, ready for it, prepared for it?
Kim: It was super easy.
Jen: Was it?
Kim: Yes. Doing a sitcom like that, a multi-cam sitcom, is one of the easiest gigs in the business because you just go in and you rehearse for a couple days. Then typically on Wednesday we would do a camera blocking day, which would be a little bit longer. Then Thursday we’d pre-tape, but it was all very normal hours. It was like 10 to 2, and 9 to 4, or whatever. Then on Friday night, then we’d do the show. We’d come in, we rehearse, we come in at like noon. We rehearse a little bit. We get couple hours off. We relax. Then we go do the show.
I was so thankful for the writers because they were like magicians. If something wasn’t working, they’d just get in their little group and then they’d come out, and they’d read me a line. They would make me look like the hero, because then on the next take, it looks like I’ve just come up with it, and it’s hilarious.
So it was really, it was a great ensemble, and we had a lot of fun on that show. It lasted eight seasons. I left after seven.
Jen: I mean, that’s really long in TV world.
Jen: That is a really great run.
Jen: Was it sort of similar pacing for Nashville or was that one different?
Kim: No, Nashville’s totally different because that was single camera. I’ve done a number of single camera shows, too. That’s harder because the hours are insanely long. The hours on Nashville were really long, and there’s a lot more waiting around.
Now the Hallmark movies that I’ve been doing, those are so fun. That is a really well-oiled machine, where we go in, and we have to do a two-hour movie in three weeks.
Jen: Oh my gosh. It feels impossible.
Kim: It’s not. It’s so fun because we’re just running and gunning. I also love that style of like “Everybody’s on, all hands on deck. Let’s do this. How can we shoot this in the best possible way for efficiency?”
So we’re making a good show, but at the same time, I’m able to have a life.
Kim: So I love that.
For Nashville, we shot all over Nashville. For the sitcom, we were in the studio. And when we left the studio, that was a big deal. It was long day, and then we were more like a single-camera show.
Jen: Oh, I see.
Kim: But typically if you have a studio setup, then you can use more cameras. Everything sort of presented like a play, as opposed to in a single-camera show, you can move all around the room. You can change direction, and you can go to different locations.
Jen: It was fun to watch you on Nashville because you’re so—in real life of course—you are so warm and so dear and so approachable and friendly. It was fun to watch you be Peggy. Somebody like that unpredictable and bad. Was that fun for you? Did you enjoy like stretching that muscle?
Kim: I did. It was fun to be the bad girl. It was fun being creepy and weird. They had this pig’s blood scene. This is what disappointed me, I’ll be honest.
Kim: Peggy had to get shot by accident in a parking lot. I really wanted an end—sorry for the spoiler if anyone’s like binging it late—but I really wanted to throw myself in front of Teddy to protect him, because I thought that would be really beautiful if I went down a martyr and just like gave my life for his. How great would that have been?
Jen: Did you suggest it?
Kim: I did. And they said, “No, we want you to just get shot by accident.”
Kim: You were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jen: You’re just going to go out like that. It’s not up for discussion.
Kim: No, and by the way, it’s really cold. If you get shot in the TV show, the blood is really cold. It was the middle of the night. It was, like, two in the morning. I remember Eric Close and I were eating a bunch of M&M’s, like stress eating, and then they had to put this like goopy wet stuff all over my chest. Then the other hard part about dying on TV is that you can’t breathe.
Jen: I think about this all the time!
Kim: Yes! It’s stressful.
Jen: You have to hold your breath, right, when the shot is kind of in?
Kim: Yes, and my eyes are closed, so I can’t tell what’s happening. And I can’t shiver by the way, because it’s freezing. I’m not allowed to shiver. So that was the hard part about dying on TV.
Jen: I’m really glad to hear that confirmed. I worry about the actors that are dead in the scene and that they’re not breathing enough. I look real hard at their chest to see if they’ve perfected some kind of real shallow breathing. I just never know, but I do worry.
Kim: You notice it’s typically a pretty short shot. They don’t keep it on there for too long, you know?
Jen: I will never, ever forget this.
Jen: I will always be thinking about the goopy, cold, non-shivering, non-breathing, living actor that’s acting dead.
This is the stuff that I want to hear about, this behind-the-scenes business. Were you sad to leave the show? I cannot help but think after you’ve put a character that long, even a mean one, you’re connected to your character, you’re connected certainly to your cast and your coworkers. Or was it a good time to be done?
Kim: I mean, I loved working on a show that was in my hometown.
Kim: That was so nice to just get in the car and just drive to work because typically I have to fly somewhere and be gone from my kids and work out all the details. So I loved being able to work in my town. But yeah, I mean, it was a good run. I was only supposed to do like two episodes.
Jen: Oh seriously?
Kim: Yeah. So I really milked it for all that I could. It was okay. I actually came away with some dear friends from the show.
Jen: Yeah, that’s true.
Kim: So I was glad to be a part of it.
Jen: You mentioned it earlier, like you’ve done like a super fun Christmas movie for Hallmark Channel and you’ve been in some Lifetime movies. And I like this because you get to kind of show your range with a variety of characters and the different types of acting. I mean, you’ve been an Amish woman, for crying out loud.
Jen: You have played an Amish woman in Amish Grace. This is just a fact. We all love those channels. We do. When I sit down with one of those channels on, if I can manage it, I will wake up, like startle myself. Eight hours later, I’m still there, I’ve eaten two bags of potato chips.
Jen: I’ve cried, I’ve got Kleenex next to me. There just so deliciously binge-worthy, all of those. Do you enjoy those spaces, like those channels and those types of shows and movies?
Kim: I don’t typically watch, like, I don’t typically have that on all the time. We’ll binge like different series or whatever. But we do find ourselves really getting caught up in the Hallmark Christmas shows.
Jen: That’s exactly it.
Kim: Because they just get you in the mood for Christmas.
Jen: They do.
Kim: And they suck you in, and you cannot let go.
Jen: That is the thing. It’s like some sort of voodoo.
Jen: And you’re like, You know what, I need to just see this through to see which of the pine tree workers should she end up with?
Jen: I have to know!
Kim: Even though you kind of know who it’s going to be, you have to have it confirmed.
Jen: I kind of do. I need it confirmed, and I just want to see it all the way through. That is exactly right.
Jen: So speaking of binging, we also do that, too—Brandon and I—just like you and Brad. Are you bingeing any shows right now? What are you watching? What are your shows right now?
Kim: Alright. Well Brad has been on me about watching Game of Thrones for so long. And for so long I turned him down and I said, “No, sir. That is not for me. It’s too violent. I can’t.”
Finally, like three months ago I was like, “All right, fine.”
Jen: Did you start from the beginning?
Kim: Of course we did. Now we’re like halfway through season five.
Jen: Oh yeah, you’re locked in.
Kim: I have to say, it’s a really good show. I get it.
Jen: It is.
Kim: I get it.
Jen: It is violent.
Kim: It’s extremely violent.
Jen: But I think that’s one of the shows that gets, for me, progressively better.
Jen: Sometimes I feel like they run out of storylines and it starts getting so weird and reachy. But in that case, I felt like that, either the cast or the writing kind of settled in and it got . . . But it is, I mean, it’s heavy.
Kim: It’s heavy. What I love is watching it with Brad, because first of all, there’s so many characters and it’s really hard to keep track of everybody.
Kim: So I’m like, “Okay, just pause it, explain what is happening. Who is this person?” He’ll go over it all again, as he loves to do. He loves watching it with me. It’s so funny. He’s like the peanut gallery.
Jen: That’s cute.
Kim: Because he knows what’s coming.
Kim: But he’ll sit there and go, “Oh, that’s not good. That’s not good.” He wants me to know that that’s not good, in case I have any question. It’s adorable.
So we’re really having a good time, but I mean, how many hours have I spent now? Probably what, like 40 hours already?
Jen: Oh, I mean . . .
Kim: When you think about how much time you actually spend when you binge something, it’s scary.
Jen: It is because it’s so concentrated. I just laugh all the time because when we are in the middle of a show like that, too, the Netflix will be like eventually, “Are you still watching?”
Jen: I’m like “Yes, we are! What do you think we’re doing here?! I didn’t ask for your judgment. Just show us the next episode!”
Kim: Oh my gosh.
Jen: What else are you watching?
Kim: Let’s see. You said, you talked about the Upside Down earlier. Are you guys Stranger Things fans?
Jen: So I need to be.
Jen: That is the short answer.
Kim: Yes. That is a great—
Jen: Do you love it?
Kim: Love, love, love, love Stranger Things.
Jen: Such a cute little . . . I saw the first two episodes, so I know enough to know that there’s some really great stuff going on in there.
Kim: It’s so awesome. Yeah. That’s one of our favorites. Those are pretty dark shows. Those are pretty much like the other end of the spectrum from Hallmark.
Jen: That’s true. That is a great point. And is that what Brad gravitates to? Like, if you’re going to have a show together, because that is 100% Brandon Hatmaker. His shows are all . . . I wish he was here right now. They’re all kind of heavy and dark, a little bit gloomy, possibly violent.
Kim: Right, which, by the way, how do you go to sleep after that?
Jen: That’s exactly what I say.
Kim: How do you, though?
Jen: They lodge in my brain. I dream about that stuff.
Kim: I know, me too, and then I’m wired. Like, I’ve just seen someone bludgeoned to death, or their head imploded—that scene was horrendous—and then I have to go to sleep. “Peaceful dreams! Goodnight, honey, love you.”
Jen: Oh, I know, and I don’t know about Brad, but Brandon can just drop right off in 40 seconds. Bye. He’s gone, and I’m sitting there worried about the actual characters like they’re in real life, like, Is this going to work out for her? I prefer, I like to watch funny and breezy shows before I got to bed.
Jen: Did you either say, I heard you say, or maybe you told me that you watch The Good Place?
Kim: Yes! I like that show a lot.
Jen: I do too.
Kim: I think that it’s really fun, easy to watch, cute. Like I’m engaged. I want to know what’s going to happen.
Kim: I think that it’s fun and easy to watch.
Jen: That’s the kind of stuff that I want in my head right before I go to sleep.
Kim: Oh, she’s amazing!
Jen: Yeah, yeah, so she was like just telling me sort of what the set is like and what a great cast it is. Yeah, that shows great. So sometimes Brandon and I have to diverge at night. I can binge Game of Thrones-type shows with him during the light of day. And so that’s a good Saturday.
Kim: We can never watch TV during the day. We just don’t. Because usually there’s sports on. There’s like baseball or football, or you know, or we’re outside.
Jen: Which you just endure, right? You’re not a sportsperson?
Jen: Please be honest. Just tell the truth.
Kim: Truthfully, no. No.
Jen: Yeah, exactly. You endure it. It’s fine.
Kim: I do.
Jen: That’s marriage.
Jen: We just say, “Okay, I’m going to be into this thing for your sake right now, but I’m not really here.”
Kim: I enjoy watching what’s happening to the Dodgers. That’s the team that we’ve picked. That’s Brad’s team, and so, you know, I hear about them all the time. We’ve actually met some of them. We’ve been to the games. So I care about it more when that’s happened. We’re a little bit more invested, you know?
Jen: Right. When there’s people, and also live games are fun. That’s just kind of a whole different deal than watching is . . .
Brandon can watch golf for hours, and I am not interested, and I don’t get it, and it’s boring. And I’m like, “Is there anywhere else you can be doing this besides my house?”
So, okay. Back to you you. Back to your work. So over your career in movies and TV, I’m interested to hear your own kind of self-assessment of how you think you’ve evolved, like from the ballerina commercial, I mean, all the way to today, and like what you’ve learned, and how you’ve maybe shifted, if you have, and how you’ve grown forward? How do you kind of see the arc of your career and your skillset?
Kim: Well, recently, in the last year, I’ve started producing movies for Hallmark. And that’s been really gratifying, just to be in at the ground level, to talk to the writer about the whole concept of the story, and then see it come to fruition, get notes on it, weigh in on casting, and you know. All of that stuff I am really enjoying so much.
Jen: I love that for you!
Jen: I mean that’s just completely different gear, right?
Kim: Yeah, and you know, the other thing I did, like I directed a few episodes of According to Jim, and I directed a couple of shorts, short films, and so directing is another thing.
I do love being behind the camera a little bit more. So that’s something that I think that I can enjoy into my older years, when I don’t want to worry about being in front of the camera, I don’t want to worry about how I look. And so that’s what I would like to see happen. And also the writing—
Jen: I was going to ask you that too. Yup.
Kim: Yeah, focus on writing. And I mean, I still want to act, don’t get me wrong. I’m starring in those movies I’m producing, but it’s just another component, and I understand the business so well. I’ve been doing it since I was 12.
Jen: Your whole life.
Kim: Yeah. And so it’s really something that I know and understand.
Jen: Do you have either like a type of role, or a type of character, or even a specific woman that you would love to play? Like one you’ve just put kind of at the end of the road, think of that as something, I would really love to do?
Kim: Not necessarily, although my friend, Susan, and I always talk about, our mutual friend, Susan Yeagley, always talk about wanting to . . . We’re expecting to get our Oscar maybe when we’re 80.
Kim: Like, I want to be a Driving Miss Daisy kind of character. I want to be an acting grandma.
Jen: I actually like that. I don’t know. I’m just watching from the outside, but it feels like . . . I would love to hear your take on this. From the outside, it seems like roles for women who are older and not the 31-year-old actresses, it seems like those roles are growing, and there’s more opportunities than there used to be 20 years ago when that was two roles a year worth noting.
Kim: I think so for sure. Absolutely, and especially in the TV space. And then also I think with the women’s movement as it is right now, there are more women directors, and women writers, and women voices out there, so that’ll be good for all of us women.
Jen: Oh, I think so too. I think that’s just going to extend the longevity of everybody’s career, really, in front of the camera, behind the camera, I love the idea of more women in charge, more women writers, more women directors, and we are watching that. It’s exciting.
I love it because Sydney, my Sydney, is interested in all of this. She is interested in film and storytelling, and that’s what she’s studying in college. And to me, as her mom, I’m looking ahead to her future, thinking it’s pretty bright. I mean, there’s just more and more opportunities kind of across the spectrum of film and journalism for women right now, and so I just applaud that.
And you’re right, because when women direct and write, they tend to hire more women. I mean that’s just what they do.
Kim: Yeah! Exactly, for the crew and everything.
Jen: Oh, yeah. Great point. Like, which is usually largely male-oriented, right? The crew?
Kim: Yes. Absolutely.
Jen: So obviously you’ve done kind of it all, movies, television, music videos, of course, and across so many genres. You’ve shared the screen with some very talented people. I mean, you’ve just had really . . . Like the one degree of separation between you and the people you work with, it’s just the list is so long.
Do you have a favorite role that you ever played? Do you have a favorite person that you ever acted with? And of course, you love them all. They’re all delightful, and nobody’s weird.
Jen: But if you had to pick up a couple of favorite moments characters, coworkers, co-actors, what would you say?
Kim: Well, Father of the Bride will always be near and dear to my heart because that was my first really big break. I mean, Stood Up was really popular, but . . .
More people may have seen Father of the Bride.
Kim: And you know, just that moment of like I was 19, and Diane Keaton was someone I’d always looked up to. And all of a sudden, there I was with Diane Keaton. It was just like a dream come true.
Kim: And also just the legs that that movie has had. I mean, it’s so like to this day, almost daily, someone comes up to me and talks to me about Father of the Bride.
Jen: It’s true.
Kim: So that movie will always have a special place in my heart.
But then there’s other ones, you know. There’s ones where I met dear friends, and so that’s why I’m so glad that I did that project, or you know, like doing 10th Kingdom, which was this mini series I did for NBC. That has a little cult following, but also that was such a great adventure in my life. It was six months in Europe, and we went through Alsace, and you know, filming London for ages, and all over in countries, and castles, and you know. It was just like the things that I got to see during that job were amazing.
So every single job has had its own unique good things and bad things.
Jen: Of course!
Kim: You know, like, I wanted to quit a few times on 10th Kingdom because it was so long.
Jen: Six months is kind of long.
Kim: Yeah, but looking back it was such a beautiful time in my life, such an adventurous wonderful time.
Jen: So let’s switch gears because another thing that you and I have in common—and that I really love and admire about your career—is your love of books and reading and writing. You’re a big time reader. When do you read, by the way? I know that you’re always reading. You’re always showing books online.
Jen: How do you shoehorn that into your life?
Kim: Oh, I love it. I love reading. I love reading with my kids. You know, I mentioned that they’re homeschooled, so every morning I get up, and this is how I wake them up is with a book. Oh, it’s the best time right now. It’s like this sweet spot when they still want to be with me, and I pick up little Jasper. I can still carry him.
Jen: Yeah, I know.
Kim: I’m like on the brink that I can still carry him. I carry him into Huck’s room. We all climb into his tiny little bed, and right now, I’m reading them Robin Hood.
So we always start the morning with just reading, and I read a lot of middle-grade books. And then I often have a book on tape that I’m listening to on Audible, you know, in the car. I get through books that way, and then I always read right before bed because that does help me unwind from Game of Thrones.
Jen: Totally. It’s a bit of detox.
Jen: What are your favorite genres to read personally?
Kim: I actually love middle grade, seriously!
Jen: It’s the truth.
Kim: I do. I do love middle grade. I love the stories there, and I love sharing that with my kids, and then I love memoirs.
Jen: Me too.
Kim: Did you read Educated, Tara Westover’s book?
Jen: Yes, I just finished it.
Kim: Oh my God! Wasn’t that phenomenal?
Jen: It almost felt like fiction.
Kim: It did!
Jen: It reminded me of The Glass Castle. Did you read that too?
Kim: Yes! I love The Glass Castle.
Jen: Just the way that they write and describe their lives off the grid. It just was so crazy it felt like a fiction book. Amazing.
Kim: Yes, and then I went and looked it all up. Have you-
Jen: Me too!
Kim: Yes! And like look at the pictures of the family and what they’ve done, and that huge business that her family has.
Jen: I did all that.
Kim: The whole thing is crazy.
Jen: Crazy, and a really good suggestion. I love, I love memoirs too.
Kim: Yeah, and the other one. Have you read Small Animals by Kim Brooks?
Jen: Nope. Is it good?
Kim: That one is really interesting too, and it kind of hearkens back to what we were talking about earlier with what our parents let us do versus what we’ll let our kids do.
So it’s about Kim, who is a mother, who left her son in the car in the parking lot of Target, and ran in to get a pair of headphones for him, and she was gone for five minutes. She could see him. The car was locked it was alarmed, and it was a nice day. It wasn’t too hot. She came back out five minutes later, he was still sitting in the back. He was on his iPad. She got in the car, and went home, and then when she landed, she was visiting her mom, and when she landed back in Chicago, later that day, she had like five messages on her phone. The police were looking for her, and someone had videotaped her son being left in the car.
Jen: Oh my gosh.
Kim: So it’s this whole book just looking at what parenthood has become now in this culture of fear that surrounds it, this age of fear that we’re in right now—where actually, statistically, kids are safer than ever, but the fear around the kids is higher than ever.
Jen: That’s the truest thing.
Kim: You know.
Jen: That is so true, like by the numbers, the world is less scary than it used to be. But yeah, the narrative now that we have is so . . . We just clamp down. What was the name of that one again?
Kim: It’s called Small Animals by Kim Brooks, yeah.
Jen: That made my stomach clench a little bit. It’s so easy to be that mom.
Kim: Yeah, absolutely! So it’s really eye opening. It makes me feel better about choices I’m making and ways that I can let go a little bit more.
Jen: Okay, good suggestions. So speaking of books, one thing that people may or may not know about you is that you an author, and I guess . . . What was it, two years ago maybe that it came out? You wrote the most wonderful book, so tender and poignant about your mom and the way your whole family sort of rallied with her and all the way through Alzheimer’s, New York Times bestseller. It was so good. You know, I read it cover to cover.
Kim: Thank you.
Jen: And we’ve had a lot of Alzheimer’s in our family too. Can you just talk a little bit about the book, about your mom, Linda, because she was a real . . . She was something.
Jen: Just like a real force, and then maybe like, do you have future plans for more books?
Kim: Yeah! So yeah, my mom was amazing. She was a fundraiser. She could ask anyone for millions of dollars and get for good cause! She had true talent there. She was a real adventurer, just a wonderful woman. And we had, you know, in some ways a typical mother-daughter relationship. It wasn’t perfect.
We had a really tough time with the dementia. It lasted, as every family does, but she was diagnosed in 2006, and her first reaction was don’t tell anybody. “Don’t talk about it. You can’t tell your friends, you know. You’ve got to help me cover.”
And that was so tragic, looking back, because we really missed out on a lot of the support and resources that we could have gotten by being honest about it.
It started with an article that I wrote for Redbook magazine, and that was the first time I ever spoke about it publicly. And the article got so much traction, and everybody was coming out of the woodwork and talking to me about it, and saying, “Thank you for sharing your story, ” or, “I have similar story,” or you know, “This is what helped me. Can you give me more ideas on what helped you?”
And I started talking about all the mistakes you made, about not taking the car keys away from her soon enough, and not asking her to write out more of a plan for what she wanted for her life, you know, knowing what was coming, and all these things. Taking care of my father as the primary caregiver, and supporting him.
So I realized that there was a real need for a book like this, and that our story could really help, not only the people in the community, in the dementia community, and the Alzheimer’s community, but me! It could help me heal—
Kim: From all that had happened that I was still trying to process, and writing about it really did help me process it and make sense of it, and then connect with people in a way that I hadn’t been able to before.
Jen: It did. It just landed, and it’s a community that you feel lonely inside of it, until you realize how big it is, and how many of are touched in some way with dementia or Alzheimer’s in our family. So you your very good point, you don’t find a lot of people talking about it.
So it’s this kind of private suffering and it’s a long goodbye too, which is its own heartache, and you’re writing on it. You just laid all this pavement for all of these conversations and you did with a lot of tenderness and even humor. You managed to work that in, and it just gave people a handle on it, and this sense of we’re not alone I this, and here are some things that we can learn, if we are kind of early in the journey, and it was really great.
Kim: Thank you.
Jen: You deserved every bit of accolades that you got for that book. You are such a good writer. Are you going to write again?
Kim: Thank you so much.
Jen: You’re welcome.
Kim: Yes, yes, I’m actually writing a middle-grade book right now.
Jen: Oh, you told me that!
Kim: Yeah, because I wanted to . . . I didn’t want to do another memoir right away. That one felt so vulnerable and empowering in so many ways, but I didn’t want to go there again for a while, or ever.
Jen: Time for fiction.
Kim: Yeah! And so I’m writing a really fun kids book, but I have thought about doing maybe a companion for Where the Light Gets In. That could be maybe like a sort of journal for caregivers, something to support caregivers. So I’ve toyed with that, and something like that may be coming.
Jen: Sometimes writing comes in big . . . I don’t know if you’re like this, I have friends who are able to block off: I’m going to go away for seven days, and I’m going to write the brunt of a book. I don’t know if you have that gear. I’m unable to do that.
Kim: I don’t know how I would like physically be able to schedule seven days away.
Jen: Well, that’s true too. I mean, my gosh, who has seven days? If I have seven days, I want to go to Sonoma.
Jen: And I don’t want to work. So yeah, I hear you enough.
Let’s talk about this because this is just . . . You and I have so much love for this stuff. One of my favorite things about you and Brad together, this is something you’re both just so good at, is how well you love other people, and your heart for other people, and you just do so much good in the world, and nobody even hardly knows. I want them to know.
So first of all, you and I were on Capitol Hill in July, and we were advocating obviously for women and children and global funding for health around the world. That was something, right?
Kim: It was amazing.
Jen: I thought it was too.
Now, you had been, of course, to Capitol Hill. I had not.
Kim: No, I have never done anything like what we did.
Jen: Oh, you hadn’t?
Jen: You do the fun things, like the galas.
Kim: No, I mean, I’d sat down with representatives locally in Nashville.
Kim: But I had never gone there to the Hill, and that was . . . It was kind of intimidating.
Jen: It was intimidating.
Kim: Can we tell the story about how you were sucking on the peppermint?
Jen: We sure can. I mean, honestly. I did not belong there.
Kim: I have to preface this by saying that you and Brandon inspire us so much, and that’s how I first fell in love with you was reading your book 7.
Jen: Oh yeah, that’s right. That was our intro.
Kim: And everything that you guys did and the image of you like walking up in church and taking off your boots and giving them at the altar. I mean, you’re just . . . You’re phenomenal people.
And yes, you did belong there! But there was this brilliant moment . . .
Jen: By the way, it’s the very end of the day, and it had been a very long day.
Kim: I mean, we were tired and it was raining, and you popped a peppermint in your mouth just as the woman . . . Who were we meeting with? It was representative—
Jen: We were with Texas.
Jen: Texas, yeah.
Kim: Yeah, and she turned to you and said, “Jen, tell us about what you’re doing.”
And you tried really valiantly for a while to talk with this honking thing in your cheek.
Jen: I did, and finally I thought, I’m going to choke on this. I’m going to suck it back, and someone is going to have to Heimlich me.
So I finally just said, “I’m sorry,” and I grabbed a cup, and I just spit it right out like a four-year-old.
Kim: You spit it out in front of her.
Jen: In front of her, like probably a little stream of slobber attached to it. It was just so ridiculous!
Oh my gosh. That was one of the funniest moments of the day.
Kim: It was amazing.
Jen: I’m still laughing about that to this day.
Okay, also, I mean, one amazing thing that you guys do is you host this enormous fundraiser for Alzheimer’s every year. It is so fun. Brandon went to it last year.
Kim: Oh, you’ve got to come. It’s so fun.
Jen: I was on the road, but Brandon was like, “Well, I’m going without you. Bye.”
He loved it. Had the best time, and brought a lot of our Legacy people, but what I want you to tell everybody about is your newest, latest, amazing thing that you and Brad are launching in Nashville. Can you talk about it a little bit?
Kim: Yeah. So this has been a passion project for us probably the last six years. We spend a lot of time out in Santa Barbara, and there’s this place called the Unity Shoppe there that just was so inspiring to us.
So it happened one Thanksgiving, our kids were just acting spoiled, and we said, “This is ridiculous. They need to be grounded. They need to give back. We need to serve.”
And we found Unity Shoppe. And we showed up, and they had like five different jobs that the kids could do, that they could be trained in immediately and do, and be useful, helpful, needed jobs. So they started by packing beans in bags, and then they stacked those beans on the shelves nicely.
And this was a beautiful grocery store. It was a community place. Like it was warm and welcoming, and the food was on the shelves just like you would see at Whole Foods, or Kroger, you know. It was just a nice friendly safe place for them to volunteer. And so I was grateful for that, but then I started to look deeper into what they were actually doing.
They were having clients come in and shop like normal people. So instead of going to a food pantry, or a shelter and getting a handout, which is also necessary a lot of the time. You need like a bag of food, but oftentimes, in that bag, there are items that people don’t want or need.
Kim: Yeah, and so we loved the dignity aspect of it, and that kids were in the store with their parents, seeing their parents make choices for their family, not going there for a handout.
So it was really Brad’s passion. He just said, “We have to do this in Nashville.”
And so for a long time, the idea has been percolating. We have been getting our ducks in a row, and we just you know, sort of came out publicly a couple nights ago, and told people about it, and we’re asking for help in the community to make this happen.
So much is already lined up. We have it that we’re a 501(c)(3). We’ve got a fantastic board of people. We’ve got Janie Day from Second Harvest Food Bank on our Board. She know all about the food needs in Nashville. And she’s really excited about it because she said, “There aren’t many places that do what you’re attempting to do.”
You know, there are places, where people can go in and pick the foods, but they don’t really look like a grocery store.
Kim: They still kind of look industrial, you know.
Jen: Yes, you’re going to make a beautiful space that screams, “You are worth this amazing experience. You are worth making your own choices.”
There’s not one bit of this I don’t love. Do you already have the location?
Kim: We have the location. We’re in partnership with Belmont University, which is also fantastic because we’re going to get all of their students to come and volunteer. They’ve got nursing students, and we’re right next to their health clinic that they’re launching.
And the other thing about Unity Shoppe is, in Santa Barbara, they enroll people in the program for a year, just so you can keep track of people. And I think there, you can come once a month, and we’re not sure yet how many times a month people will come to ours, or you know, we have to work out those details. But there, after people have been through the program for a year, 80% of those people never come back again.
Kim: Meaning that they’re own then. They just needed a little bit so that they could get that lease on the apartment, or—
Kim: Do you know what I mean? They could pay off that car so that they could get to that job. You know so it’s just like giving them a little bit of a stepping stone to bridge the gap.
Jen: You have perfectly described that. Like that is such the plight of so many working poor. They are working. They are working two jobs. They’re working three jobs sometimes, but just a simple series of disadvantages can take you so out, and then you just need someone to help you bridge the gap.
And the truth is that is what everybody wants. They want their own dignity. They want to be financially solvent. They want to be financially independent, and so providing this for them in the interim, where it restores some hope, it’s just so good.
I’m so proud of you guys, and so excited about this.
Kim: Thank you.
Jen: We’ve been hearing you talk about it, and I know that this is a lot of work to get off the ground, but what a great example you are setting. I would love to see this duplicated in other cities.
Kim: I would too! Absolutely. That’s our hope. And I think in partnering with a university, I think that it’s a great way to go because we have all of those resources of the university. So if anyone is considering doing it, you know, anywhere else in the country, that’s the way that I would go about it because we also want to have an educational component. We want people with diabetes to go in and see, “Oh yeah, these are foods that would be useful for you.”
Jen: Really smart!
Kim: And then we want eventually we would love to have a job training area, and things like that.
Jen: Oh yeah, the ideas are endless here. How much capacity you could build around this, once you’ve got the space, and the crew, and the volunteer base, and I mean, this could develop for the next 15 years into something really just extraordinary and broad, and anyway, I’m thrilled about it.
I’m so happy for Nashville.
Kim: Thank you. Thank you.
Jen: What a wonderful gift you are to the city.
Okay, well, what are you working on now? We’re about to land this plane. What are you doing? Where can people find you on their TVs right now?
Kim: Yeah, well, actually, the third Darrow & Darrowis coming out on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. So that’s coming out, and then on Thanksgiving, I have a Netflix Christmas movie coming out called The Christmas Chronicles with Kurt Russell.
Kim: So fun. And the trailer for that will be out soon. I play a mom in that, so it’s not a huge part, but it’s really fun, and it’s a fun action Christmas film.
Jen: I will watch them both. I will record them. I will send you texts.
Kim: Okay. Good.
Jen: One time, we were watching . . . What is the name of it? We Are Marshall.
Jen: And I needed to stop and screenshot you in the stands, cheering with . . . Was it January?
Kim: Yes, January Jones.
Jen: January Jones. Yeah, exactly. It’s so fun. I like you to know when I’m watching you on TV.
Kim: I approve of that.
Jen: So here are three just quick questions we are asking everybody in the TV series: what was your favorite TV show as a kid?
Kim: Charlie’s Angels.
Jen: Oh gosh. Oh my gosh.
Kim: Never missed an episode.
Jen: Oh my gosh, I just got so much feelings rush over me when you said that. We parked our butts in front of the TV, and we ate and breathed and drank Charlie’s Angels.
Kim: Oh it’s the best.
Jen: The best.
Before you came to Hollywood, who was your I-have-to-work-with-them-someday actor?
Kim: Diane Keaton!
Jen: Oh, well gosh. You hit your goals too soon.
Kim: I know! Well, my other one’s Meryl Streep. So I still have a ways to go.
Jen: Of course. She’s the queen.
Jen: Diane Keaton is the queen. Their careers are so amazing to watch.
Kim: I know.
Jen: And here’s just a twist on our question that we always ask from Barbara Brown Taylor. Do you have a TV show that is saving your life right now? Let’s even just say, it’s giving me some life.
Kim: Yeah, I mean, Game of Thrones is pretty awesome right now.
Jen: Who is your favorite character?
Kim: I look forward to.
You know, I love Arya. I love the little girl, who is finding herself and learning how to be on her own, and you know, grappling with who she wants to be.
Jen: I can’t wait for you to keep watching.
Jen: Keep on going girl. Okay.
Kim: Am I going to regret that? I’m probably going to regret that.
Jen: No, you’re not. You’ve picked a good character to—
Kim: Oh, you know who else I love? I love the Mother of Dragons, of course.
Jen: Of course. Khaleesi.
Kim: Daenerys, she’s amazing.
Jen: Yeah, she is. Her character is really something.
So listen. Thank you for being on today. I just-
Kim: Of course, I loved it!
Jen: I’m just so crazy about you and I love who you are. I love what you’re doing. I love your work, but I really just love your soul. So I’m so happy we became friends. I’m so lucky.
Kim: Me too! That’s actually one good thing about social media is that’s how I met you.
Jen: That’s right!
Kim: It makes me happy.
Jen: Okay, sister. Sending you all of our love from Austin.
Kim: Lots of love to you.
Jen: Thanks for being on the show today.
Kim: Thank you for having me. Talk to you soon.
Jen: I love her! I love her.
It is so fun and easy to be around Kim, and listen. I highly value fun and easy these days. Please give me a friend that is fun and easy, and I will make you mine.
She is just as good as you think, and smart, and interesting, and talented, and good-hearted, and I just am so happy to be her friend, and proud of her work, and so glad to bring her to you today because I know you love her too.
I mean, we’ve loved her for so long. She is like our generation’s Jim. So everything we talked about, guys, I will have over on the transcript at JenHatmaker.com, under the Podcast tab. All of Kim’s movies and shows, where you can find her on social media. She’s great on social media by the way, if you’re not following her. It will just make you happy.
Don’t you want to follow somebody that will make you happy? She’s the one.
And linked to her new projects and initiatives that we talked about. So all things Kim Paisley will be over at JenHatmaker.com and I’m so glad she was on today. You guys, this series is so off the hook.
This is me pinching myself that I get to talk to these amazing, amazing people in the entertainment industry. You are not going to want to miss next week. I promise you that. We have some of the most outstanding actors around on the show for this series, and you know how much I love TV. So I kind of wish this was going to go on for 100 years.
Thanks for joining me. Thanks for tuning every single week. You are the most loyal listeners. I can’t even handle it. And thank you for sharing our podcast with your friends, and subscribing. It’s just fabulous. It’s just our joy to serve you, so on behalf of me and my producer Laura and her crew, and Amanda, my partner and assistant, we are just . . . We love this. We love bringing this to you week in and week out, and we appreciate you so much.
You guys have a fabulous week and I will see you next time!
Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!