Posted On Jan 31, 2014
By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Kimberly Williams-Paisley—star of NBC’s Nashville, iconic ingénue from Father of the Bride, and wife of country music singer Brad Paisley—opens up about health struggles, old insecurities, and her family’s high-profile life, set to the tune of a good ol’ country song.
NEW YOU: Kimberly, what’s it like to be married to a country music legend?
KIMBERLY WILLIAMS-PAISLEY: I’ve learned to let things roll off my back. We’ve been married for 10 years now, and he still keeps me laughing. I see some new couples that don’t even have kids, and hear things like, “My husband doesn’t believe in circumcision, and I don’t know what to do.” They are trying to solve the issues of their relationship 10 years down the line—even one year down the line—rather than just being present.
NY: What does a typical day in the Paisley family look like?
KWP: When we’re in “school mode” that’s one thing, and when we’re in California things are more laid-back. Although diet-wise, I’m like a policeman. I make sure the boys get their vegetables and fruits every day. My husband is from the south and I’m from New York, which are very different cultures. I decided to learn how to bake and cook, and I’m working on getting the boys to start helping while they’re young. I’m guilty of spoiling them, too. Sometimes if they don’t pitch in or take their dish to the sink, I let it fly.
NY: As one half of a high-profile couple, are you self-conscious about being recognized?
KWP: I’ve learned a lot from my husband about that. Anyone who comes up to him and says hello or asks for an autograph, he wants to know their name and where they’re from. I was so moved by that when I first saw it. He said, “Well, think about it. I have a chance to make their day by just asking their names and where they’re from, and they will probably never forget that.” The country community really interacts with fans in a way I’ve never seen before.
NY: Your first big movie was Father of the Bride. What advice did your co-stars give you in preparation for that entrée into acting?
KWP: The first thing Steve Martin told me was, “Welcome to LA! Now you’re going to have to get a good therapist.” He was right about that, and it really helped. It’s important to have a sense of yourself, regardless of whatever anyone thinks of you. You’re going to be up and down, accepted, rejected, again and again. I got my biggest role when I was 19, which is great. But where do you go from there? Brad and I both come from very strong, stable families, which helps so much.
NY: Tell me about the women closest to you.
KWP: I have some wonderful women in my life. Unfortunately my mother has dementia, and it’s horrible to not have that stability anymore. However, I have supportive women around me, including an amazing sister. I also need my girl’s night out, because I don’t have the same kinds of conversations with my kids or husband that I do with my girlfriends.
NY: Do you think we dress for other women, or for our husbands or partners?
KWP: We dress for women. With boys it’s physical; with girls it’s superficial.
NY: How did you come to understand the concept of superficiality?
KWP: My worst superficial moments were when I was growing up. I went to the Fieldston School in New York, in seventh grade. My family didn’t have a ton of money, but they wanted to send me to a great private school for a couple of years. So I get there, and for gym class you had to have a softball mitt. My mother said, “Well, I have a mitt from when I was a kid. I am not paying a dime for a softball mitt. We’re paying $10,000 a year for you to go to this school.” So, she digs in the attic and pulls out this mitt with fingers that were very wide. It was so big and smelled like mold. I was mortified. I showed up with it and can remember the looks from the girls that day. I broke out in hives every time I went into the locker room. Of course at the time their perception was, “Some chemical they’re using in the locker room must be making her break out in hives.” The life lesson I learned from it was adaptability. I’m very adaptable to circumstances and to places. It definitely makes my marriage work. I’m much more adaptable than my husband, and he’ll tell you that.
NY: What’s your personal health philosophy?
KWP: Moderation! I’ve gone on kicks where I’m very extreme—extreme diet, extreme exercise, extreme whatever—and it’s never good for my body. I always come back to moderation.
NY: What’s the cornerstone of your diet?
KWP: It’s about eating food that won’t cause inflammation like lots of sugar, alcohol, or bread. I just did a two-week cleanse, during which I eliminated five things: coffee, gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol. The biggest difference was: I slept so well.
NY: What’s your favorite form of exercise?
KWP: Hot yoga—it feels as if you’ve used every part of the body when you leave that class. And as a family we love to hike. I don’t run anymore; it’s too hard on my body and joints. And I’m still dealing with things that were caused by having mono in high school. When I’m in shape—doing yoga and other exercises—it’s kept in check. Yoga also helps me deal with stress; I try to do the hot yoga classes with a little smile on my face, reminding myself that “this too will pass.”
NY: Do you feel that having mononucleosis compromised your immune system?
KWP: My immune system is weak. I got mononucleosis in high school, and every year I had bronchitis. If anyone was sick, I always got it. I grew up on antibiotics. It was partially a diet issue, and partially not enough sleep. I don’t think we knew much about what was healthy when I was growing up in New York. That turnaround in thought came right after college, when I moved to LA. I learned a lot on film sets, where people would be passing around homeopathic remedies. Everyone was taking herb and protein powders. That was also a time when I was doing extreme things such as very restrictive diets—but then I wouldn’t get my period for six months at a time. I had to figure things out for myself. I proceeded to just get healthy. While I was pregnant I went crazy when it came to organic food, and that made a big difference. I also went to many naturopaths and a chiropractor, learning a lot about nutrition. I take the vitamins they tell me to take, and every time I go I feel more inspired to be healthy.
NY: What advice would you give to others if they want to live a healthier life?
KWP: The morning is always a fresh, new start. If I start the day off with a chocolate croissant, I feel like, “Ah, this is a wash,” and by the end of the day I’ve had about five cups of coffee and a couple of glasses of wine and I’m totally off base. Sometimes that happens, and it’s OK. The next morning you have a fresh start again.
NY: How do you feel about cosmetic surgery?
KWP: I’m a filler virgin. We’re few and far between—especially actors. Your face is a reflection on the life you have lived—how much you’ve laughed, if you’ve smoked, if you’ve taken care of yourself, if you’ve partied hard, if you’re happy or not. It’s not because of some strong sense of self that I haven’t done it; I think it might be more that I’m afraid of putting chemicals and fillers into my forehead. Just eat a healthy diet, get lots of sleep, and drink lots of water.
NY: What cause is close to your heart?
KWP: Advocating for children and nutrition. Children are a blank slate, and we need to start with the basics as building blocks for them. Feed them positive thoughts, good food, and love, and then watch them bloom and change the world for good.
Kimberly’s Everyday Essentials
Must-Have Beauty Products: NARS tinted moisturizer, sunscreen, and mascara. “I love my mascara. I look more awake and fresh.”
Healthy Hair secrets: Wen conditioner, Shu Uemura shampoo, and deep conditioner. “I just clip my hair up with the conditioner in and walk around the house for a few hours with a shower cap on.”
Travel Tips: “Drink lots of water and wash your hands frequently.”
Diet-Out-the-Window Snacks: Organic dark chocolate with almonds or raisins. “I just got some Patchi chocolate from a friend; Brad and I love chocolate.”