Mandy Moore Is Having the Time of Her Life: Her Career Comeback in Her Own Words
Elizabeth Crook Photography
Mandy Moorewill take your compliments now.
Mandy Moore is a star on the number one new show of 2016. Mandy Moore has been nominated for a Golden Globe. Mandy Moore is the star of what will probably be this year’s Outstanding Drama Series. Mandy Moore gets to work opposite Milo Ventimiglia every single day. Mandy Moore is talented and successful.
Yet up until recently, Mandy Moore had trouble admitting that.
Because you know that thing you do, when someone gives you a compliment, and you make a joke about it or pretend like it wasn’t that big of a deal or immediately change the subject because women have a much harder time than men owning their own accomplishments? Yeah, Mandy Moore does that too.
But because Mandy Moore is better than the rest of us, she knows she does it and she’s trying to change. Maybe it’s something about being at the absolute top of the television industry right now, but the actress says that if she’s learned anything on This Is Us—aside from a far better better ability to cry on cue—it’s how to take a beat and appreciate the success.
“I’ve really taken from it to just be in the moment and accept things that I would diminish when I was younger,” Moore told E! News. “I would really write it off. Now, when people give me compliments, I’m like, ‘Thank you!’ I try to be better at it, and I’m more conscious of saying ‘thank you’ or ‘that is very nice of you.'”
The actress is barely a week away from her first official Emmys appearance (as part of a nominated show, that is), so the process of accepting all those compliments is well underway. Never does an actor endure more gushing than during award season. But for the moment, Moore is feeling something slightly different than gushing: She’s totally nervous. And yes, it’s weird to see Mandy Moore nervous.
You see, she’s about to give the keynote presentation at the Create & Cultivate conference. It’s a gathering of women that seeks to empower them in their careers (and their lives) that started a few years ago when founder Jaclyn Johnson gathered 50 friends for an informal dinner, and has since grown to host several major speakers like Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba, Gloria Steinem and Issa Rae. Mandy was chosen to headline this year’s conference, sponsored by Microsoft, Sorel, The Mine and Express, because her career resurgence has inspired women across the globe, and she’s capping off a day full of panels and mentoring sessions and will sit in front of a room of 1,000 eager women.
So, like, no pressure.
Elizabeth Crook Photography
The first thing Moore says when she enters the green room to greet the small crowd that has gathered to wish her well pre-keynote is “I’m nervous!” She is giddy and gracious, accepting hugs and introductions and happily posing for photographs, and yet she repeats the sentiment as she squeezes onto a couch in a quiet corner.
“I’m going to speak on a panel and answer questions about my life and I am quite nervous,” she says before turning inquisitive. “Why are we so hard on ourselves about these things? I’m just supposed to speak from the heart and off the cuff, it shouldn’t be nerve-wracking.”
But she’s also excited, describing the opportunity to share in a day dedicated to women supporting other women as an incredible opportunity, and one that she doesn’t get very often.
“I don’t think I have it in my day-to-day life necessarily,” she says of the palpable energy that comes from a truly female-focused gathering. “I think I am looking for it. I don’t have a lot of advice to share, I have no business telling people how to live their lives, so I’m looking for guidance more than anybody.”
That’s not to say that she doesn’t surround herself with strong women daily. One scroll through her Instagram feed shows that Mandy Moore traffics in female empowerment and she knows how to share in her success.
“I have a lot of really powerful, incredible women in my life,” says Moore. “My best friend, who is moderating this panel, she is literally my number one that I run every major decision in my life by. Then I have my manager, and I have a great little female squad to cover every facet of my life.”
Right now, Moore explains that that life is all about reveling in the moment. In an industry that can cause even the most levelheaded person to panic over their next role or their next season or their next endorsement, it can be nearly impossible to prevent oneself from constantly looking forward to bigger and better things. It’s no secret that the actress has arrived at this juncture in her career, as the star of This Is Us, after a fairly tumultuous few years.
She came roaring out of the acting gate in the mid-2000’s, with a breakout role in The Princess Diaries, followed by instant classics like A Walk to Remember and Saved! But things slowed down, and the early part of this decade saw a few guest-starring gigs on TV shows like Red Band Society, a few failed pilots and not much else. Moore is the first person to admit that she has felt the growing pains that are all too familiar in Hollywood, and has often spoken openly about her frustrations during those years.
“Our lives and careers have an ebb and flow and I’ve definitely had my dips,” she said candidly.
“But now, coming out of a slower point in my life and career…I have to say there has been an odd sense of contentment,” she added. “Being 33 and being at the point in my life that I am and seeing how lucky I have been in the last year with work and my career…I am trying to be present and appreciate the moment. This is so once-in-a-lifetime, this crazy experience that all of us on the show are experiencing right now.”
At this point that means adopting the Shonda Rhimes Guide to Life. It’s Mandy Moore’s own Year of Yes and she has This Is Us to thank for it.
“I’m going to focus on appreciating every day and saying yes and going to parties and events that I wouldn’t normally go to,” she explains. “I know that sounds silly, but I think that has allowed me to stay focused on what is happening right now and not get lost in the what-if’s of the future.”
When Mandy Moore isn’t saying yes to all those parties (or conference panels), she’s knee-deep in filming the second season of This Is Us. It’s the topic that’s on everyone’s mind, whether they’re currently interviewing the real-life Rebecca Pearson or not. This past spring the debut season left fans with the knowledge that Jack Pearson, everyone’s favorite TV father and version of Milo Ventimiglia (sorry, Jess Mariano!) doesn’t live to present-day, and the actress dished that they’re currently working on a particularly challenging episode. In fact, there is a scene in season premiere that is so secretive it didn’t even make it into the script—the cast involved is going out to a remote location to film on a closed set.
(This is the part where we pause to ensure all the Jack Pearson stans out there that Mandy Moore promises he isn’t going anywhere. He’s number one on the call sheet!)
The weight of the subject matter is, however, making it hard for Moore to concentrate on anything else.
“I have kept myself up at night thinking about specific scenes and how to execute them,” says Moore. “Then I get lost in the, oh my God, am I going to have to cry every day for the next four years of my life? Where am I going to mine the emotion from? But then I remind myself to take it one day at a time, one moment a time, one scene at a time, one take at a time. Otherwise I’ll get lost in the weeds.”
Perhaps the best part of all this success, and the compliment-taking, is that Moore is totally chill about whatever is going to come after This Is Us. She claims that she doesn’t set goals for herself, and that she knows the industry is so crazy that there isn’t a point in getting caught up in milestones.
“I am not the most disciplined person when it comes to that stuff,” she says. “”I give myself a lot of leeway. There is so much stuff that is out of your control in this business, there is so much rejection. I have a general idea of what direction I want to go in, but I don’t beat myself up about it.”
But that’s all a topic for future Mandy. Current-day Mandy is about to embark on the craziest compliment-receiving ride of her life, and she’s as psyched about the Emmys as one would expect.
“It’s crazy,” she exclaimed of the upcoming award show. “I really can’t believe it. I’m ready to sit in that room and hopefully watch my friends win. The show would be amazing, but I want to see Sterling or Milo or Chrissy.”
Same, Mandy Moore. Same.