‘She Pivots’ With Brooke Shields: On Finding Her Independence

The Hollywood legend has long been in the spotlight. But it’s her personal growth behind-the-scenes that makes her most proud.

headshot of actress Brooke Shields
(Image credit: Brooke Shields / She Pivots)

In partnership with Marie Claire, 'She Pivots' challenges the typical definitions of success and explores the role our personal stories play in our professional journeys.

Brooke Shields has been an actress and model her entire life. 

“I just didn't know anything else,” Shields tells me as we sit down to talk for the latest episode of She Pivots. “I was nine when I made my first movie. And that was, you know, it's like kids grow up playing sports. So that was my sport. I was put into that arena.”

Despite growing up in the spotlight, Shields was shielded from the harsh critiques of the public by her mother, who guided her career—and her personal life—with a strong hand. But that didn’t mean her mother, who struggled with alcoholism throughout Shields’ life, was ignorant to how her daughter was sexualized at an early age.

“I think she buried her head in the sand a lot about a lot of it,” Shields says. “She was never really fully sober…she wanted me to be adored.”

Going to college was one of the first times Shields began to break away from her mother’s influence. Her independence continued when she met her ex-husband Andre Agassi. 

“He was the first person who said, you know, if you really want to be an actress, you're complaining that you're not getting any work, and you're sad about it, and you're empty, you feel terrible. Why are you sitting in New York City, without an agent or manager? And so I told my mother that I was separating from her as a manager. And that if I was going to do this, fail or not, I knew I needed to do it on my own,” Shields says.

Looking back on her childhood and early career, which is featured in her new documentary, Pretty Baby, Brooke says she has no regrets.

“Every negative thing that happened allowed something else to come into my life,” Shields says. “All the negativity that surrounded my early career, even that, although it was painful, and it was hard for me to grapple and understand…gave me such strength over the course of my life.”

To hear more about Shields’ story—including her iconic Friends episode and her advocacy around postpartum depression—tune in below.

Emily Tisch Sussman
Contributing Editor

Emily Tisch Sussman is the Founder and Host of “She Pivots,” the podcast in partnership with Marie Claire about women, their stories, and how their pivot became their success. She is a contributing editor to Maire Claire and the guest host of the Marie Claire Instagram Live series “Getting Down to Business.”