Holy Macanoli, the 80s were tough! From the terrifying hair to real horrors like the Challenger Blast, precocious foster child Punky Brewster led the kids through it all (and away from abandoned refrigerators) with chewing gum and a heart on the popular Reagan-era sitcom of the same name
Now she’s all raised with a family of her own in Peacock’s Punky Brewster revival (starting Feb.25) that will tackle today’s complex and sometimes difficult problems with Punky’s signature spirit as Soleil Moon Frye, 44, her iconic role for one Repeating new generation, it reflects where punky was and where it is going
WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT: It’s been more than 30 years since we last saw Punky. Why bring her back now?
SOLEIL MOON FRYE: I always say I don’t know where punky stopped and I started I feel like my child and adult come together as I rediscovered my inner spark, my punky power, so much from what this show is about is growing up again and rediscovering us it’s an exploration of what family looks like today and what this incredibly beautiful mixed family looks like
In the new series Freddie Prinze Jr plays Travis, Punky’s ex-husband What made you decide to turn Punky into a single mom?
In the original Punky, her father abandoned her and her mother left her in a parking lot. When we brought Punky back, we stayed true to the fact that life can be complicated and chaotic [she is] that unique person who all makes these experiences and constantly contemplates the light and love in the most painful situations
The ’80s show was way ahead of its time in terms of the variety of cast as well as the priorities it covered, from child task to drugs and alcohol, as the star and executive producer of this round did you have the Feeling pressure to reach the weight of the original?
I knew that the people who grew up with punky would want me to authentically capture the life experiences we have, so we really tried to keep those up throughout the writers were so amazing at making experiences seeing what went on in our personal lives and bringing them into the episodes I can truly say that some of my proudest moments while watching the show with my kids ages 4-15 are telling me: “I just wish I had this sooner” If we can create fun programs that allow you to have conversations around the dinner table and talk about important issues in our lives, this is the greatest gift
There’s no doubt that punky fans will be delighted with all of the recalls, but it also requires a delicate balance of nostalgia and update in bringing back something that was such an integral part of so many childhoods as you have found that perfect formula?
You scared me with this question I really think because of the heart and soul we all got into this with we saw this as such a work of love and passion I think that love really carried on , and you see it in scenes with Cherie [Johnson returning in her original role] It felt like lightning in a bottle, and that was throughout the writing process and working with the design team. Every wallpaper, every photo, there were things that were really personal to me
Yeah, and I’m still very open to it [Laughs] I tell my mom that I wanted to have 100 kids. She says, “Okay, well, one day it could happen somewhere”
You talked about “totally imperfect” parents of your four children. How do you apply that today?
If I’m really honest I’m just trying my best to get away with it looking at the fact that this was a year my boys [Lyric, 6, and Story, 4] didn’t play with kids in theirs Age or the girls had [Poet, 15, and Jagger, 12] As teenagers there is the daily attempt to take them outside and create a world of fantasy and play. And then I have seen my daughters become such advocates – their interest in politics, their interest in the world around them, their interest in safety from fear – it was amazing how far it went In a time when there were so many transitions and what historical times we live in I feel like I’m on a magic carpet, just trying to hold on as tightly as possible and I go, “Okay, I can do this and we can do this together”
Punky Brewster, Soleil Moon Frye
World News – CA – Soleil Moon Frye says the Punky Brewster revival feels like lightning in a bottle