She’s a long way from “The Blue Lagoon.”
Brooke Shields, whose career started in modeling when she was a baby before a jump to acting at age 12, is embracing the next chapter of her life.
Having recently recovered from a broken leg, Shields, 56, joined the “Sunday Sitdown" on NBC's “Sunday Today with Willie Geist,” and discussed her impressive career longevity and embracing the aging process.
First, she was the youngest model to appear on the cover of Vogue, then upped that fashion ante by appearing in an infamous batch of early ‘80s Calvin Klein Jeans ads, as well as the movies “Blue Lagoon” and “Endless Love.”
Unlike most teenagers, Shields often spent her nights at Studio 54 in its infamous heyday, hobnobbing with Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and all the other stars of that glamorous disco scene. Though also unlike many of her peers, she didn't sneak out to party -- her mom chaperoned.
“It feels extremely familiar because I was home by midnight,” said Shields. “And I was at school the next day. So there was this weird sense of normalcy. Mom would go sit and drink in the roped-off section. I would go and dance like a crazy person for two hours, and go home.”
In her 2014 biography, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, Shields wrote about her unorthodox relationship with her mom.
“She was hated for the most part because, you know, nobody could get near me,” Shields said. “But she also taught me manners, taught me ethics, you know, raised me as a good Catholic girl. But hard work was always there. And nothing came without it. And I think that kind of work ethic makes you say ‘I'm going to just keep going,’ because nothing really undoes you.”
Shields was at a career zenith when she decided to quit the glamour and head off to Princeton University and afterwards, was able to jump right back into entertainment. As Today points out, the actor starred on Broadway in “Grease” and “Cabaret,” and had a successful sitcom stint with her role on the Emmy-nominated NBC series, “Suddenly Susan,” for four seasons.
“And I had been working for so long by then it was almost like a vacation,” Shields said about her college years. “I didn't even think about it, thankfully, because I was in for a real shock when I got out of college. It was like, ‘Who? I'm sorry, what?’”
After a two-year marriage to tennis star Andre Agassi, Shields tried again in 2001 with screenwriter and producer Chris Henchy, with whom she now shares two children -- Rowan Francis, 18, and Grier Hammond, 15.
It was her own daughter Rowan’s decision to go to Wake Forest University, where she is now a freshman, that got Shields to get choked up a bit during the “Sunday Sitdown.” When Geist mentioned his own two kids inching towards college age. Shields told him, “Honestly, enjoy these four years, ‘cause it's gonna be like a limb has been cut off of your body. And you'll still feel it.”
Shields can currently be seen in the new holiday rom-com, "A Castle for Christmas," streaming on Netflix. But most of the star’s energy is now focused on her lifestyle brand, Beginning Is Now, which she hopes to use to empower women as they get older.
"I feel as if I'm just beginning,” Shields said. “I feel stronger, I feel sexier. Why aren't we allowed to be sexy in our fifties? ... I thought, 'God, why can't we be celebrated for what our next chapter is?' The women that I know, they're self-sufficient. They're not looking to be saved by anybody, and they sort of say, like, 'Well, God, what's next? This can't be it. I'm not done.'"
And if fans hope that means Brooke Shields is not done with movies either, don’t fret. Shields is always open to acting work.
"I've been pounding the pavement since I could crawl," she joked.