To introduce Rosie O`Donnell is not really necessary.
The actress, TV show host, political activist, musical Lover and mom of five has been around for a while.
Rosie is very approachable and really engages in conversation (hey, not everyone who has as much on her mind as she does is like that!).
Someone who wants to share her thoughts and is not guarded doing so. Thank you for the conversation, Rosie. We had a great time talking to you.
FC: What has inspired you or moved you in art lately?
Rosie: Ta-nehisi Coates “Between the World and Me” .
It’s a book that he’s written to his son about what it is to be in a black body in America. What it means to have your skin be a different color and how that has to affect every move you make in the world.
It’s so heartbreaking but so accurate. When all of these issues are coming up lately, like: The Oscars are racists or the police are racist. It’s like we’re the fish swimming in the water, right? There’s that old thing that they don’t know that they’re in the water. The stew that we’re in is a racist misogynist patriarchal stew.
But the thing that has been most changing for me in every way of my life is having seen Hamilton on Broadway. I am a Broadway freak.
I grew up in NY. I was lucky enough to go see shows since I was 5 years old.
I loved Les Mis that was the high watermark for me of any musical I ever saw in all my life and I went to see this and I was completely blown away. I saw it downtown at the Public before it moved up to Broadway.
I was crying so much when I met the cast.
There is not one false moment in the 2 ½ hours that you sit in that theater. And I’ve seen it 12 times. Isn’t that crazy?
FC: Have you seen any other musical more than that?
Rosie: Les Mis. But, Les Mis has been open since 1980- I was so young when it opened. Les Mis has been kind of where I got my moral guidance.
It was like a compass. When things would happen in my life I would hear the lyrics in my head to sort of judge what should I do at this point.
FC: Did you sleep well last night? What’s your connection to sleep? You’re the first mother I am asking this…
Rosie: It’s not good since I had children. I don’t want to ever take a sleeping pill because I’m afraid I won’t hear them.
I have a three year old now, and I sleep in the bed with her still.
Which, my therapist and other people are saying to me, you do know she’s three now, right? And I say she is very obviously my last baby, and I kind of love it. I love those moments. I have a king size bed, and I am on about 8 or 9 inches at the end of the night. I wake up and scooch her over. I don’t get enough sleep and I never have.
FC: Do you have reoccurring dreams?
Rosie: I do, since I was a kid. They are never happy.
One is of shooting, It’s interesting that I ended up talking so much about gun control in my life and career but as a young kid I had this reoccurring dream that I am running in a field and there is a very low building with small windows.
Everything is dark. And you can see the little tiny windows that are squares light up as you hear the shots and I keep running, There’s Very low cello-y music that you hear
FC: What are you more aware of now than 20/30 years ago?
Rosie: I’m more aware of how my choices affect so many more people more than just me. For a long time , especially when I was a young comedienne pre-children, I was selfish. I think you have to be to make it in this business where so few people do.
I was on the road very young, and the only thing that mattered to me was that I was successful in the Arts. Getting to be around other artists, talk to them about their craft, and absorb as much content as I could.
I never really realized that the decisions that I make affect so many other people.
Now as the mother of 5 kids, it’s the first thing I think of. Am I going to miss a basketball game? I think I am much more aware of the affect I have on people I love and I don’t think I ever was before.
FC: If you are at a dinner party, what kind of person would you gravitate towards?
Rosie: Once I was invited to Anna Wintour’s house. Somehow. I was invited to something at her house and I didn’t know anyone at the party.
I was of course dressed wrong because everyone there was from Vogue. I remember feeling totally anxious the entire night. I gravitated towards who was closest to me and tried to find some common ground. I don’t go to a lot of parties. I would much rather have 2 people or 3 people and go to dinner than I would ever want to go to a big party like that.
FC: What is your relationship with your iphone?
Rosie: I would like to break up with my iphone.
I have tried but I can’t seem to leave her.
When I look at my children and I see the top of their heads more then I see her face, when I see them constantly taking that Snapshot-selfie thing, I think that in many ways, it’s ruined society.
It’s ruined people’s ability to look in each other’s eyes and get a sense or a vibe about who they are in stay present in the moment.
It’s the worst thing that’s happened to us as human beings and in many ways, the best thing as well.
To be a little kid in the middle of the country and to think you are the only gay kid, or the only kid with whatever it is that you’re struggling with or trying to figure out about yourself.
To know you can go online and be able to find a support groups and millions of other people telling their story- It’s very freeing.
To see what my 3 year old is able to do on an ipad is terrifying.
Not only can she find Frozen, she can find the scene that she wants in Frozen.
I do feel that there are times when I wish I could give up the iphone. There are times when I get so sick of it that I make a big announcement to myself, but like everything else, you there are times that you have to wean yourself off from it. Slowly back away from the phone, and it’s really hard.
FC: Define beauty.
Rosie: I would say beauty is visual grace.
Things that I think are beautiful not always aesthetically what other people think are beautiful.
But you can find beauty in little moments. People say the goal in life is to be happy. I don’t know who believes that shit. Happiness is not a sustainable state. Happiness is just a moment, a snap shot, a pearl to add to the necklace. It’s not the necklace.
Beauty is just moments of grace that you get to witness in some way.
I find it a lot when I am shopping. This might be weird: but: I was at a shopping center There is a boy there with his dad, and you could tell that he is excited, he is about nine. and he is looking to get a specific kind of shoe. I watch him and his father, and then I see the kid distraught. He lost his wallet. He had saved up his money from his birthday to buy this one pair of shoes, and somehow in this place he lost the wallet. To see the father comfort the kid. It was this moment that I was eavesdropping on, and I was sort of stealing it- but it was a Beautiful moment of parenting.
FC: What do you need to trust a stranger?
Rosie: It’s funny, for me, I trust too easily, too quickly and way too broadly.
I imagine in my own life the qualities that I think someone possesses that I don’t know.
I often when I am out in the world, make up a story. I’ll say something like, Do you see those 2 people eating dinner? I think that she just left her husband, and that’s the new guy.
People am I with are like, can you pay attention to me? I trust way too easily.
FC: So it doesn’t even have to come from the other person—it comes out of you?
Yeah. It comes out of an over interest in other people’s emotional well being. My therapist often says to me “Just because someone is suffering, that doesn’t make them worth saving
I am going to be 54, I am trying to overcome that Instant gratification of thinking that I had solved whatever the problem was. The real journey is to accept that you don’t have the power to change or affect anybody else’s reality but your own.
FC: Is there a game that still gives you joy now that you revisit it with your own children
Rosie: Yes. My mother died when I was 10, and I don’t remember much about her, but I do remember her singing that children’s song “Three Little Fishies” to me.
Down in the meadow in a
itty bitty pool
Swam three little fishies
And a mama fishie too
"Swim," said the mama fishie,
"Swim if you can."
And they swam and they swam all
over the dam
I don’t know where it comes from.
I naturally sang it to my oldest, Parker, and the other day I walked in and he was singing it to her, to the 3 year old.
And she was singing it with him because I had sung it to her too, but he didn’t know I was there, and I was kind of watching, and I thought, listen to that.
When you lost a parent very young, I find that I am constantly wishing that she were here to help me with my children especially if things are bad, or If there is a time where I don’t know if I am doing something right. In moments like that I think, well maybe she is here, maybe more then I am aware.
My son is now 21, but when he was a baby I bought him a lego soccer game for Christmas.
And my mother had an old station wagon that didn’t work. Whenever we were going up the hill to our house, she would tap on the dashboard and say, “C’mon Bessie!” So, this morning he was like 6 years old, Christmas morning as he took a shot he said “Come On, Bessie!” and I said,” what did you just say?”
And he said, “I don’t know,” “Come on, Bessie” it just came into my head”.
So, it’s moments like that, Christmas morning, you think about your mom. All these pivotal moments. That make me remember her, and then Out of the blue something like that happens.
FC: Rank in order of importance: Food, Sleep, Music, Friends
Rosie: Friends, Music, Sleep, Food
FC: Share a magical place.
Rosie: For me, a magical place is Florida.
I live in NY, but we have always had a home in Florida as well. I first went there when I was an adult, I was about 30 years old. We didn’t have money, but when I was a kid the neighbors that had money would go to Disney World. So I landed in Florida the first time at 30 years old. The humidity hit me, and the Cuban influence hit me and I just fell in love with it. It is so beautiful and it’s so gorgeous. The politics are so backwards that I can’t even wrap my head around the most beautiful place I have ever been in the US also is the most conservative and restrictive in terms of basic civil rights.
FC: What is on your bucket list?
Rosie: I am not a good traveler.
I am afraid to be away from my children. So unless they are all going to come with me I don’t like to be in another country because something could happen and I am not easily reachable. But I’d like to travel around the world. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by Russia. I was fascinated by the buildings that looked like ice cream cones and the Kremlin and St Petersburg. I always wanted to go to Russia. And nobody I know ever wants to go there with me, But that’s the one place I really want to go.
FC: Maybe in a former life you have been there.
Rosie: I think it must be. When I was a kid, that was the big thing in the United states: That Russia was the enemy. And then when it was all of a sudden, you could go there. I remember they would tell us in school they don’t have anything in Russia. They don’t have jeans, they don’t have pens, they don’t have toys. In my mind I thought: I am going to go there…, and again I am fixing things! I am going to bring big Pens and Levi 501 Jeans to Russia.
Thank you for the conversation.
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