Mandy Moore, once a teen pop star in the same milieu as Hilary Duff, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, has since chosen to focus on her acting career and has remained relatively low-key since her public split from musician Ryan Adams.
Now 32, Moore is back on the scene with the NBC drama “This Is Us,” costarring Milo Ventimiglia. She plays Rebecca, a pregnant woman whose life changes after a tragedy.
Moore sat down with WWD at Thursday’s Hollywood Foreign Press grant banquet to talk about why she’s excited to portray a mother, her hopes to return to the recording studio and life after her divorce.
WWD: Why did you want to be a part of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association event tonight?
Mandy Moore: We know the HFPA for throwing a great party like the Golden Globes, but to be able to highlight the great work that they’re doing is important. I was lucky enough to go to theater camp and had I not had the opportunity to be around other people my age that were like-minded, I don’t know if I really would have found my way into this profession. Maybe it would have just been a hobby for me. Or maybe I wouldn’t have done it at all. I never told any of the students that I was in school with that I loved to sing or act. It was something that I very much kept to myself. But at theater camp, I could be myself. So those are the kinds of organizations that are recipients of some of these grants.
WWD: You’ve been blonde, brunette. What inspired your current hair?
M.M.: Cutting your hair, doing something different with your hair, has been a philosophy of mine. It’s something I’ve subscribed to forever. I cut bangs earlier this year, and like most women I know, immediately I’m like, “I’m growing them out,” which is the silliest, most awful process in the world. But I get bored, so I feel lucky to be a lady and I can change it up whenever I want.
WWD: What are you most excited about in regard to your new NBC show “This Is Us?”
M.M.: I’m excited to play a wife and a mom because I’ve never done that before. I feel like it’s come at the perfect time in my life. I feel really open to all of these new experiences. I’m also proud to be a part of something that’s inherently hopeful and not in a saccharine way. I feel like the show is resonating with people because it’s tapping into something that’s not really on the landscape right now; it’s a emotional, but there’s levity. It’s being undercut by wit and it wears its heart on its sleeve.
WWD: Your focus is obviously the show, but might you get back to singing?
M.M.: I miss it! I haven’t had a record out in seven years. That’s a long time. And that whole time I’ve been writing music on and off. I’m around music all the time. I date a musician [Taylor Goldsmith, the lead singer of Dawes]. So it’s very much still in my ether and in my world. It’s something that I intend to get back to when the time is right.
WWD: You’re embracing a new stage in your life and career. How are you realizing who you are now?
M.M.: The important thing for me was to turn the focus back on myself. I think I was really hesitant to not pour all of my energy into the personal side of my life. Now I’m recognizing that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. I think immediately after [my divorce], it was important for me to focus on myself and do what made me happy. Exercise. Be around friends. Just continue living life like I had been and recognizing that you’re not an anomaly. There are lots and lots of people who are in the same situation. And things get easier as time goes on.