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Busy Philipps Shares the Mindset That Pushed Her to Success

The actress, author and television host shared her thoughts on social media, impostor syndrome and success in an exclusive interview.


Armed with gigantic hoop earrings and a leopard-print hair ribbon that matches her high heels, Busy Philipps playfully struts out to her intro music and poses for her fans before falling into her trademark talk-show position: seated on the couch with her legs tucked underneath her. It's the position you might assume before launching into an hours-long catch-up session with a friend, and that's what Philipps's show on E!, Busy Tonight, is meant to feel like.

Courtesy of E! Entertainment

On a recent episode, after sharing her thoughts on Netflix's cancelling One Day at a Time -- which Philipps protested by sending out an airplane with a banner that read "Renew One Day at a Time!" -- she covers Cardi B's latest Instagram Story, the college admissions scandal and more.

"I have full conversations in my head and then get annoyed when people have no idea what I'm talking about -- puffins, am I right?" she deadpans.

Philipps hosted a live edition of Busy Tonight onstage at SXSW 2019, featuring actors Nick Kroll and Retta -- along with a couple of rescue pigs -- as guests. Entrepreneur caught up with Philipps in an exclusive interview after the show to talk authenticity, impostor syndrome and success.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How do you stay genuine on social media, and not just in the way that's widely accepted?

That's a question that only you can answer for yourself -- I can't tell you how the fuck to do that because that wouldn't be genuine. That's part of the problem with all of these conversations about authenticity and being genuine and showing your true self on social media. You really have to know yourself and take stock of your own values and what's important and what you want to put into the world before you start posting.

What's your best advice for readers dealing with impostor syndrome and struggling with comparison?

Oh, shit. Look, it's always there for everyone no matter what stage they are at. I suffer from it at times myself. You have to do the work on yourself and I know this sounds trite maybe, but I'm not against personal therapy -- truly doing the work on yourself. You can't just look outside to see all of the things that you want, that you're missing out on, that you don't think you are -- it will slowly drive you truly insane. And it's something that comes with age, too. As you get older, I think that for a lot of people and myself at least, that impostor syndrome starts to fade because you're focused on other things and your priorities are shifting. It's less likely that you're comparing yourself like, "Why am I not there? Why am I not her? Why do I not do that thing?" It's more about yourself and being self-reflective.

Tell us the most surprising lesson you've learned about success in the last few years.

I talk a lot about how I'm a pusher and how I'm somebody who for my entire life has always been pushing forward, pushing forward, pushing forward. That doesn't stop, and it doesn't go away. So even when I find bits of success and times in my life like this one right now, where things are happening in a way that they hadn't maybe previously happened for me, there's still no slowing down. There's no point where I think, Oh, now I can just take a break. I'm still pushing and asking myself, "What's the next thing? How do I move towards that goal? What am I doing next?" So it hasn't gotten easier.

If you could give your younger self any advice as far as your future career, what would you say?

I feel like I get asked that question a lot, and it's really complicated for me because I have the advantage of having gone through all of these things and coming out on the other side and being in this really amazing place that I'm in right now and so I wonder, Does that person need advice? Because maybe she turned out fine. I was just asked today to participate in a friend's book, A Letter to My Younger Self, and I don't have a fucking letter to my younger self. She would've told "older self" to fuck off anyway, so there's no point. I couldn't have been told anything.

Now I'm a mom, and I find myself having increasingly difficult conversations with my 10-year-old daughter, and they're only going to get more complicated and more difficult. And I understand -- I fundamentally get it -- there's no stopping her path. She's going to be on whatever trajectory she's going to be on, and I can try to help guide and I can give advice obviously, and I won't stop doing that. But at a certain point, her path is her path. Her journey is her journey. And that's what I feel like about my own.

Share one moment from your show that stands out the most in your mind.

Julia Roberts was incredible. I loved that Mindy Kaling came and did my first show -- that was very special to me because she has a very busy life. Miss Patti LaBelle, a true icon, was an incredible moment. We just had Rita Moreno on the show, another living legend and an EGOT winner. The women who have shown up for me who are in a position of power, a position where their presence helps me in my current position of trying to establish myself in the late-night talk show space -- those are the most special moments for me.

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