Lipstick Jungle’s Kim Raver proves it is possible to have it all.
By Rachel Bowie
Kim Raver hearts New York. In fact, she loves it so much that she’s embraced the city’s most efficient way of getting around — taking the subway. But as Raver’s career reaches new heights, going incognito underground is becoming more and more difficult for the native New Yorker. “People come up to me on the subway and ask, ‘Do you know Kim Raver?’” she laughs. “This one guy was so persistent and kept saying, ‘But you look so much like her!’ Maybe they know and they’re just trying to get me to say, ‘It’s me!’ It’s really very funny.”
If you ask us, getting recognized underground — or anywhere else in the city — is something Raver better get used to. This fall, she returns to the small screen for the second season of NBC’s Lipstick Jungle, a series about three successful New York women (played by Raver, Brooke Shields and Lindsay Price) struggling to manage their busy lives and, in turn, have it all. Raver plays Nico Reilly, editor-in-chief of Bonfire magazine, giving a performance that is both touching and heartfelt, not to mention one that hits home for many of the show’s viewers. And as Lipstick Jungle’s fan base grows, so does Raver’s star status, making her life much like that of the character she plays: busier by the minute.
Resident: Lipstick Jungle is another book by author Candace Bushnell [the woman behind Sex and the City]. The impact of Sex and the City was unreal — what was it like to be a part of her next project?
Kim Raver: Candace is so extraordinary. She has such an amazing view of New York and also such an intelligent view on women in New York. What I love about Lipstick Jungle is that it’s really telling about this new place that women are at. Candace put it so well. She said, “In Sex and the City, the women were looking for Mr. Big, while in Lipstick Jungle, they are Mr. Big.”
R: The series shoots on the streets of New York. What is that like?
KR: It’s amazing. There’s always so much energy and excitement. To be shooting in places around the city that I’ve gone to in my own personal life is so fantastic. In Third Watch, I was always kind of in the dungeons of the city, which is interesting to see, but it’s nice to be filming in all of the up-and-coming, hot places to go in New York. The city really is special in that it has such amazing culture and nightlife and a real beauty to it.
R: And Lipstick Jungle is quintessentially New York. The streets and locations almost play a role as an undefined character…
KR: It’s such a huge part of everything. Brooke and I were shooting a scene recently where we were just reacting off everything around us. It was midtown lunch time on Park Avenue and there were just hundreds and thousands of people everywhere going and walking and talking on their cell phones. In the scene, we were talking about Victory [played by Price] and you look around and you’ve got New York with all these people and the taxicabs — it’s this whirling of life that happens here. It’s going on all around you and it just adds to the reality of the show.
R: Does it change the interaction you have with your fans? Do a lot of people stop to watch you shoot scenes?
KR: Yes and no. That’s also what I love about New York. People here kind of stop and look and go, oh yeah, television show. Half of the people that stop are so kind and just talk to us about the show. Then, there’s the other half who are just going about their lives and nothing fazes them. That’s very New York. During that scene that Brooke and I were shooting, there was someone on his cell phone behind us. He didn’t even notice the camera and he was in the shot on his phone, talking and selling stocks, doing whatever he needed to do.
R: In season one, Nico juggles work, friendship, marriage and an extra-marital affair. What’s in store for Nico this season?
KR: A lot more of that affair! The big joke is always that whenever I have scenes with Kirby [played by Robert Buckley], he never has his shirt on. So a lot more of Kirby without his shirt on! But everything with Kirby becomes a more weighty matter. It gets into this interesting place and it’s really nice to see where Nico and Kirby are going and to not just have them in bed. I joke about that, but the second season dives into what that relationship is really about. And for Nico, there is still all the juggling. I think that’s definitely what our show is — juggling it all and learning how to juggle it all.
R: Speaking of juggling it all, by today’s standards, do you think this is difficult for a woman to accomplish?
KR: That’s exactly what the show explores. How do you prioritize? And if you do put things as a priority, what happens to the other things that fall by the wayside? How do you deal with that? How does Nico deal with the fact that she doesn’t have children? Does she want children? How is that going to affect her? It’s so interesting — Candace really hits on a cultural phenomenon that’s happening across the country with what women are dealing with as they try to have it all.
R: The women on Lipstick Jungle also seem to wear the pants in most of their relationships…
KR: It’s interesting. I think our country has driven home the fact that the man is the one who’s supposed to be the bread-winner and bring home the bacon, so to speak. Nico has this amazing line saying, “What should it matter as long as there’s enough bacon for everyone!” Even though it’s said in a joking tone, I think it really hits home. It shouldn’t matter who brings home the money. If you are enjoying your life together, that’s what the focus should be.
R: Much like Nico, you also lead quite a busy life. You celebrated your eighth wedding anniversary this summer with husband Manu Boyer and gave birth to your second child, Leo, last year. How do you manage to balance it all?
KR: It’s pretty insane! I just put one foot in front of the other and in the middle of it, I realize, oh my gosh, I haven’t really slept. The great thing is that Brooke and I have very similar lives so we kind of help each other through it. It’s also so great to have Lindsay who’s in a different place in her life because the things that she is going through are really fun. We all share our stories together. I think it’s about being where you are at and I feel really grateful that I have all of it right now. That said, it’s definitely about scheduling. The most important thing is my family so if it means coming home at four in the morning and only getting two hours of sleep, but being with my kids, then that’s my priority.
R: Let’s talk about the show’s fashion. Has going through wardrobe for a role you are playing ever been this much fun?
KR: No. Never. Especially in Third Watch, I was wearing paramedic blues. Then on 24, I pretty much had one outfit and the rest was prison garb or torture outfits. It’s amazing to go to fittings for Lipstick Jungle with Amanda Ross [the show’s stylist]. Not to sound hoaky, but she literally has tables and tables of jewelry and racks and racks of fashion couture and the whole floor is covered with bags and shoes. It’s like she’s painting. She’ll put a dress on me and then she’ll look at the jewelry and put one thing on and layer it with another thing. I’m used to running around New York in my jeans and T-shirt so to go to work and get dressed up in Valentino and so many amazing designers is a lot of fun.
R: Your acting career began on television with a role on Sesame Street. What do you remember about that experience?
KR: It was such a magical place. I used to walk in and on the door, it said, “One-Two-Three, Open Sesame.” The doors opened and you would go onto this sound stage. The lights were dim and Mr. Hooper’s store was there and Snuffalufagus was up in the rafters. It was incredible to be able to learn how to count the letters of the alphabet with Bert and Ernie and Count Dracula and Big Bird. Instead of watching it on television, I was actually in it.
R: Was that the experience that left you hooked on acting?
KR: I didn’t really consider that acting. It was a world of imagination so I definitely started there, but acting didn’t start until I joined this theater company called the First All-Children’s Theater.
It was just for kids, ages six to 18. We would rehearse every single day and perform on weekends and if you were a minute late to the company, you were kicked out. We performed on the weekends and did a couple of benefit shows on Broadway and toured. It was there that I fell in love with acting.
R: For you, Lipstick Jungle comes on the heels of performances in television series including 24 and The Nine, not to mention a film role in Night at the Museum. With each role you play, you are consistently marked as the one to watch. As an actor, what does it mean to hear that kind of feedback?
KR: It’s a huge compliment. My work is really important to me and I love what I do. To have that recognition is definitely the cherry on the top. I’m lucky to be able to work with such amazing people and I’ve learned so much.
R: Besides Lipstick Jungle, do you have any projects in the works?
KR: Oh no. That’s all I have time for right now.
R: What is the shooting schedule for the show like?
KR: It’s insane. I think it’s a combination of it being such a high fashion show and shooting in New York, but I pretty much have 16-hour days. They pick me up at 4:30 in the morning and then we shoot all day and I come home and collapse and memorize my ten pages for the next day. I have to say that the great thing about it is that the chemistry amongst me and the other girls is really so genuine. It’s just so nice to go to work with people that you love to be with.
R: You were born and raised in New York, but relocated to LA for 24. What does it mean to be back in the city you grew up in?
KR: It’s so fantastic. Most people, when they come home, drive into their driveway and think, “Oh, home.” Whenever I get off the airplane and I’m in a cab and I come over and see the skyline of New York, I just give a huge sigh of relief. To me, that’s where I think, “Oh, home.”
R: And it must be great for you to raise your family here…
KR: To be back home and be able to raise my kids the way I was raised in New York just makes me so happy. It’s amazing to watch my son [Luke] in New York too. He’s gaining this real sense of street smarts. The other day we were walking down the street and I overheard him talking to this older woman. I looked down and he was like, “Yeah, Canal Street. You go down two blocks, take a right…” He was giving someone directions and he’s only six! It was such a New York thing. You just figure it out in New York and I love that. I also love that he’s able to go to museums and just be a part of this amazing city. It’s nice to be able to show him all the culture that this city offers, and have him grow up in such a multi-cultural, multi-racial city. Everyone’s finances are different — you take the subway and you have a millionaire on your left and a homeless person on your right, but we’re all going to the same place. It’s such a great thing and I missed that when I was in LA.
R: Right now, your life must feel pretty full. Is there anything you still hope to achieve?
KR: A good night’s rest! I had such a great time doing Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller. There’s such a nice feeling doing film. Doing TV is like going at a New York pace. You don’t stop, you never look behind, you just keep on going. In film, you do one page during the day. In TV, you do 10 pages a day and there is a constant race against the clock. I would definitely love to keep doing films, but at the moment, I love doing what I’m doing, spending time with my kids and just being in New York. It’s all pretty good right now.
The second season of Lipstick Jungle premieres September 24 on NBC.
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