September 1st, 2011
05:04 PM ET
Have you ever woken up in your flower cart bed in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, terrified that Simon Chillings was going to whisk you off to Fenster Hall?
Such was the charmed, if tragic, life of one of TV's most beloved characters - Punky Brewster.
CNN caught up with Punky herself - Soleil Moon Frye, who balances her roles as mother of two little girls, Target's Mommy Ambassador, eco-friendly children's boutique proprietress, activist, web series host, and author with grace and great humor. Her debut book, "Happy Chaos: From Punky to Parenting and My Perfectly Imperfect Adventures in Between," is available now.
CNN: What are your most cherished memories of the "Punky Brewster" experience?
Soleil Moon Frye: We were always kids first and foremost, so for us the set was literally our playground. We'd take our pogo sticks and hop off of furniture and ride our scooters through the sound stages and just the smell and the nostalgia of that whole time is so close to my heart.
I loved playing Punky and I have so many favorite episodes. I hold it so close. I loved NBC and being a part of that show at that time - it really was like a family and we'd have these incredible get-togethers with all the different shows and we would all sing these NBC family songs and it was really like being a family. The network was really like this extended family at the time. It was amazing and special and was something that was truly unique to (then-NBC President) Brandon Tartikoff and to that era of television.
CNN: Do you keep in touch with your fellow "Punky" cast members?
SMF: I haven't spoken to "Henry" in years, but I still tweet Cherie once in awhile - we reunited through Twitter, of course!
CNN: Did you save any mementos from the set?
SMF: My mom actually has some shoes! She may have an animated cut-out.
CNN: What was your favorite episode?
SMF: One of my favorite episodes was the one about the Challenger explosion because it was something that I really went through at the time - I wanted to be an astronaut and the kids gave me a hard time. We'd watched what happened when the Challenger exploded and I was so devastated by it and I think it helped a lot of people get through that time and so that meant a lot to me.
The episode with Andy Gibb was another favorite! I had such a big crush on Andy Gibb at the time. He did two episodes - in the episode where he's singing to me, you can actually see my love for him gushing out! I loved the episode where Cherie got caught in the refrigerator because we had so many people that watched that episode and then went on to save their little brother or sister because they'd seen that episode. That episode was actually inspired by someone who wrote in and shared the idea.
Getting letters afterword and knowing that we were a part of something that could have helped save somebody was incredible because they saw it on "Punky." I loved the "Just Say No" episode. There are just so many episodes that I'm nostalgic for!
CNN: Was it difficult to operate Punky's flower cart bed?
SMF: The flower cart bed, are you kidding me? I wanted the flower cart bed! It was awesome! I'd climb up, lay down, it's go up and down - it was the coolest thing ever.
CNN: Does it ever bother you that you're still associated with "Punky" after all these years? Do you have any bitterness about people still categorizing you as a child star?
SMF: "Punky" is so close to my heart and it's so funny when people talk about those who had a rough time post-child stardom but I feel like there are so many more positive stories. The other day someone actually asked me to name some and I said: Ron Howard, Natalie Portman... I could go on and on about the incredible success stories of people that turned out fantastic that have grown up to be incredible, beautiful and inspiring. Fred Savage is an amazing director now - there's just so many talented people that grew up acting and have continued to be inspiring adults. For me, I was so blessed because I got to play a character that was so full of spunk and heart but that also really broke so many boundaries and taught people to be unique and to be themselves and to always be proud of who they were.
CNN: What does your role as Target's Mommy Ambassador entail?
SMF: It's fantastic! I absolutely love it. I get to connect with moms through social media - we do videos, we had a Twitter party last week; it was super fun. It's really just connecting and sharing and talking about my parenting adventures and hearing about their parenting adventures and doing all that sort of fun stuff and it's been a blast.
CNN: You co-founded an eco-friendly children's clothing line, The Little Seed. What makes an article of clothing eco-friendly? Are there certain fibers? Dyes?
SMF: We really wanted to create something that was eco-friendly for our little ones, and also to make the planet a little healthier. What we wanted to do, really, was to be able to educate and share and really communicate with them. So some of our clothing is raw cotton, some of it is organic cotton - we use a lot of organics - but I always wanted it to be inspired by the idea that grain can really be in every color and that we didn't have to take the concept of organic being just beige and cream, but that we could really make it vibrant and colorful by using low-impact dyes.
CNN: You're a brand and you essentially have your own empire to keep you busy - will you still take on acting roles?
SMF: I'm definitely ready to go back. It's so funny, because for a while I really just wanted to be with the kids and then all of the social media and designing and The Little Seed just got bigger and bigger and grew and grew. And it was funny because one of the reasons we started The Little Seed was to do something yet still be moms. What I've realized over the last few years with everything growing is that I don't have to choose between being a mom and following my dreams of having a career. I can actually do both and I think for a long time I felt like I'd have to make a choice, then I realized you can do both and you can do both gracefully.
CNN: Are there any other projects you're working on right now?
SMF: I recently traveled to Haiti with J/P HRO (J/P Haitian Relief Organization) and I'm really excited this year to do more work with them and do another trip and really try and help the women and children and bring jobs and sustainability. I'm really lucky to be working with such an incredible group of people.
From around the web
About this blog
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.