Joely Fisher Does It Her Way!

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and in Joely Fisher’s case, they weren’t kidding. The multitalented actress and singer is the perfect onstage combination of her mom, Hollywood icon Connie Stevens, and the late crooner Eddie Fisher. But Fisher was determined to take Hollywood by storm by making it on her own! 

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
joely fisher image

More: It seems you were born in the spotlight.
Joely Fisher: Everybody says, “Oh, that is what she has to do because it is the family trade.” For me, it is not dentistry. This is something I really like. When I was born, my father wasn’t there, which isn’t such a shock because he was onstage in Las Vegas. They called my dad while he was doing a show to say, “Connie is giving birth.” So my dad held the microphone next to the receiver so everyone could hear my cry onstage.

More: Does being Connie Stevens and Eddie Fisher’s daughter immediately pave the way for stardom?
JF: People assume I have always been in a limo. If anything, having the parents I did helped pave the way for dealing with the negative things people say about you. My mom had such a strong work ethic. She was a true survivor because she came from nothing and didn’t have one thing handed to her.  

More: What about your dad?
JF: You know, my father passed away back in 2010. My little sister Tricia and I went to clean out his house, and I found all of these old magazines where he and my mom were featured. When you look at them, they are so different from the magazines we read today. Back then things were mystical, magical and somewhat secretive, which was amazing.

More: Does it change how you feel about the industry?
JF: I still love what I do. I’m even trying to get back to series television. It is the place I feel most comfortable. I feel I am sort of missing something by not doing it.

More: Any chance we will see you pop up on the small screen soon?
JF: I did write something. It is somewhat autobiographical but of course exaggerated. There seems to be good response, so we will see.

More: Of all the programs you've done, which had the greatest impact on you?
JF: Being cast opposite Ellen DeGeneres in her sitcom, Ellen. I loved Paige, the character I played, and watching how well people responded to her. Jeremy Piven even came out of that show. I had the most amazing time being on Ellen’s road, which took her on a crazy journey to get to where she is. I got nominations for that part, and I felt I was playing with the big kids. Cabaret on Broadway was also awesome. I was using all of my props at once, singing, dancing and acting on a live stage.

More: Where do you feel more comfortable: in front of the camera or singing center stage?
JF: I like to bounce between things. The stage feels so comfortable to me because it is where my roots are. A movie set to me is like camp and a real love affair. You get to go away for a few months, hang with really cool people and then go home.

More: Do you feel society has put high expectations on you because of who your parents are?
JF: I think that used to be the case when I was a younger artist. I think the scrutiny used to be, Who does she look like? Does she sound like Eddie? Does she have the same twinkle as Connie? I think all of that began to fall away as I got older and really proved myself. I have my own career and identity. I also have fans who have no idea who my parents are. For me that is somewhat gratifying because, while I love them both dearly, it means that the success comes from what I have delivered. For me that is a triumph! I have really worked hard to forge my own way.  

More: Your Hallmark film Cupid is being released on DVD (buy it here).
JF: I am so excited about this. It is such a cute movie, and one that I think people will enjoy. Plus, it is a perfect family movie, so much so that my kids were allowed to be on the set.

More: Do you remember when you got struck by Cupid?
JF: I absolutely do. I was doing the show Ellen, and during an off-episode, when writers are putting together the next script, Ellen was doing a production for Disney’s Epcot Center. One day Ellen told me to come see her on the set. The moment I walked in I saw Ellen hanging from a crane with Bill Nye the Science Guy. As I saw Ellen waving to me, I also saw this stunning, silver-haired, strapping young man with his eye to the lens. I looked at Ellen and signed to her, Who is that? Ellen nodded, “Yeah, he’s cute!” To make a long story short, that is my husband [Christopher Duddy] of 16 years.

More: Ellen the matchmaker—I love it.
JF: Yeah. She always says, I found you a husband—which she did. We got married a year later on the same stage where we met.  

More: You are also the mother to five children. How are you juggling a Hollywood career, PTA meetings and carpool?
JF: My husband had two sons from his last relationship, who became my stepsons; they are now adults. We also have three little girls. I am still learning how to juggle. I have had a lot of time with my girls, and I do look for things that keep me in Los Angeles because I want my face to be the last one they see at night.

More: So you have it under control?
JF: Everywhere I look, I see a two-career family where both the mother and the father work. It is more accepted in this day and age. My husband and I are partners in raising our children. However, we are also just like everyone else. We have our moments where we tear our hair out, and there are days when we go from school to the doctor for a sick child and then help with homework at every level. I have got laundry going right now.

More: Will you let your daughter who is a dancer follow in her parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps?
JF: I would. But I went to college first and didn’t work until I got out. I feel that is better for her, because I would like her to have something to fall back on. This business can be great, but it can also be really tough.

More: You adopted a little girl back in 2008. What made you go that route and focus on a domestic adoption?
>JF: It is such a blessing to me and such a blessing to her. I always wanted to adopt, even when I was a little girl. I remember seeing pictures of so many little kids from Romania on trains—that image really affected me as a child. Fast-forward to me talking to a stand-in on a set. This woman had two beautiful children she had adopted from the Los Angeles area. She put me in touch with another woman, and three weeks later I had a baby. Although I had to talk my husband into it, it was the right time and the right place. Now we have this gorgeous, smart, a bit of a pain in the neck but otherwise just perfect little girl.

More: How has the transition been?
JF: It is a tough road because she is a different color than the rest of us. She knows that she is brown. Although she hasn’t asked me any questions, one day she will ask. I have shown her a couple of photographs of her mother, and she does have a biological sibling. We are not ready to go there yet because she is only four, but it is a daily thing that we encounter, such as when she wants to brush her hair like her two blonde, blue-eyed sisters. We deal with things as they come up.

More: Is it working perfectly for you?
JF: I have my days when it is not [laughs]. I am not your average bird. I do, however, have a life that people can identify with. I have five beautiful children, I work hard, and I work hard to provide for them. I am really comfortable in my own skin, and I want the same thing for my girls.

More: Does age have anything to do with this level of confidence?  
JF: In my case, yes. I didn’t always feel comfortable. At times I felt like the red-headed stepchild, thinking everyone was skinnier or prettier than me. I think when you find your adult body and you know this is your temple, you really start to listen to that. I don’t want my girls to ever struggle with self-image issues. You need to say, “I am who I am.” Although that wasn’t always the case for me, I am so proud of who I am now!

More: Are your girls a chip off the old block?
JF: The four of us are all fiercely independent, spirited, strong-willed and emotional.  

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First Published Wed, 2013-01-16 00:13

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