Photo by Meeno/OWN
It’s impossible to say the name Soleil Moon Frye and not think of her iconic TV persona, Punky Brewster. But the former child star is all grown up and has a whole new fan base. Not only is the 37-year-old actress now a wife and mother of two with a baby on the way, but she’s somehow managed to carve out the time to amass a loyal group of 1.4 million followers on Twitter and over 600,000 on Facebook. She’s built the popular website MoonFrye.com, has a new mobile app and a book called Let's Get This Party Started. And to top it all off, she’s the new host of Home Made Simple on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN.
In a recent exclusive interview, we asked the busy star why she decided to sign on to the do it yourself series. She replied, “I’m such a huge Oprah fan and a big fan of the network. I met them and I started connecting with them and talking to them. And I fell in love with the idea that this show goes in and helps people’s lives that are doing so much for others.”
True to form with all of OWN’s shows, Soleil noted that Home Made Simple leaves a positive impact on the participants lives. “These families are so touching and inspiring and moving. They’re constantly, constantly doing such incredible work for the community and for their families. This was a chance for us to come in and spruce up their spaces a little bit.”
Still she found it impossible to say which story she found most touching. Soleil acknowledged, “There are so many families that I fell in love with. Truly, it was just incredible. Being pregnant, in the early part of the show I couldn’t tell anyone. So I’d be so emotional with all of my hormones. But whether I was pregnant or not, I would have been in tears because these families are just so moving. You would have these grown men that were crying. And I’d be crying. We’d all be crying.”
And Soleil explained that the families on the show, didn’t take it for granted, “They’re so grateful and so thankful and really truly beautiful people inside, incredibly giving. And some of them have given all of themselves to everyone else and never asked for anything. So it was so touching to be able to go and do something special for them.”
It’s that human element that sets Home Made Simple apart from other home improvement shows. As Soleil explained, “The show has so much heart. And we were going into homes where each person had a really compelling story about why we were going in there. So everyone had a backstory. Everyone had this incredible history, whether it was helping foster children or a woman who had lost her husband and now was advocating for awareness around heart complications. Every family had a story that was moving and inspiring.”
She added, “I’m a huge fan of DIY and I’m a big fan of shows that have inspiration. And this is one of those shows where you can get fantastic ideas that are simple and easy to do. But the most special part for me was really meeting these families and I think there stories are so compelling and they were people that were so deserving. That’s what’s really special about this show.”
Of course, there’s a lot that viewers can take away from the series which Soleil said is packed with “so many amazing tips” that she’s constantly running home to share them with her family. She admitted, “I want to build everything that we did all season… We craft tons in our house. We do so many DIY projects. But this was so special because when we’re doing all these DIY fun things. We’re building furniture — just crazy, cool stuff.”
It’s true that Soleil is no stranger to the world of DIY. That’s what inspired her new book Let's Get This Party Started. She recounted the origins of her recently released publication, “Let's Get This Party Started has been just such a fun ride. My children, as they’ve been growing up, I’m always coming up with fun, innovative things that we can do together. And they’re coming up with fun, and innovative things to do together. We absolutely love crafting. But I also don’t want it to break the bank so I’m constantly looking around my home for fun things we can reuse — toilet paper rolls, paper towels, anything that we can reuse in our house. And we love party planning.”
Soleil wanted to let other moms know that planning a great event was within reach. “You see things in magazines or blogs and you go to replicate it and it doesn’t usually look like it does in the magazine or on the blog. So for us, I wanted to create things that were accessible for families and parties that they could really do and help them with staples that they could always have on hand and ways to do it affordable and show people that they didn’t’ need to break the bank to create a party. So many moms will come up to me and say, ‘I want to throw a great party but it’s too overwhelming or it’s too expensive.’ And I don’t’ want it to be a daunting thing. I want to be able to share fun tips and be able to help people so they can have some fun and get the party started.”
She may be all grown up but Soleil still feels a very close bond to her TV alter ego from the ‘80s. When we asked her what pop icon she’d like to be for a day, she answered, “I feel like I was able to do that. I was Punky and, oh my gosh, I love my character so much. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anyone else because I got to be her and it was so awesome. I still hold her so close to my heart. So that has been pretty fun. I feel like I was very lucky to play a character that I think is like real pop culture for sure and I wouldn’t have wanted to play anyone else or be anyone else.”
Tune in to Home Made Simple on Saturday October 19 at 9 a.m. EST/PST on OWN. And visit moonfrye.com to find out more about Soleil’s app and new book Let's Get This Party Started.