A Chat With Busy Philipps About Her Spacey Super Bowl Ad And The Enduring Power Of Female Friendship

Any self-respecting TV addict can rattle off Busy Philipps‘ multitude of appearances, including regular roles in Cougar Town, Vice Principals, Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, and more. She recently tried on a late-night talk show for size while selectively picking up guest roles and funneling her down-to-earth personality into the influencer market. In addition, she still remains one of the most famous best friends (to Michelle Williams) in existence. It’s no wonder that Busy, while starring in her first Super Bowl commercial, wants to help spread a message of female empowerment to the masses.

To that end, Busy’s latest project finds her launching into space, or at least, starring in a big game spot for Olay where she aims for new frontiers alongside Lilly Singh and retired astronaut Nicole Stott with help from Katie Couric and Taraji P. Henson. With the commercial, the cosmetics brand pays homage to the pioneering women of STEM and wants to pay it forward for future generations. Busy was gracious enough to speak with us from Miami about Olay’s donation set-up for the Super Bowl, along with her take on friendship, her dream space crew, the gender pay gap, and more.

It’s earlier right now than my best self wakes up, so bear with me here, Busy.

I just flew from LA yesterday to the east coast, so it’s 5:40 am for me. So I’m doing great too, don’t worry about it.

Well, this is your first Super Bowl commercial. How did you get involved?

I’ve been working for Olay for the past year, and I love the brand and what they stand for, and I love that they’re about empowering women and finding your own strength and that so many of the things that they want to put into the world are values that align with my own. So I had heard that they were going to do a Super Bowl commercial, and I felt so incredibly overjoyed when they asked me to be a part of it, and I just loved the concept because it was inspired by the historic, all-female space walk that happened last year. I thought that part of what was so incredible was the message, so everything involved was super exciting. The fact that there was going to be this tie-in with halftime, where Olay is going to donate $1 to Girls Who Code for every time that someone uses the hashtag for #MakeSpaceForWomen. It just was all up my alley, and there’s an all-female cast.

So what does “make space for women” mean to you?

I just think we have a ways to go in terms of achieving gender parity. It’s something that’s incredibly important across all different industries, especially in this country, and I think that there’s a lot of value, especially on a national stage as big as the Super Bowl to show women and girls the strength and power of what is possible. Because listen, half of the people watching the Super Bowl on Sunday are going to be women, you know. We see ourselves reflected in ways that are empowering, and ways that speak to us and inspire us in the ads that we see.

The year is 2020, and it’s still somehow very notable that this ad is happening. So that’s something.

Right? I know. That’s part of the reason I’m so proud to work with Olay. I feel like they have consistently made this a priority in their own messaging, and I’m thrilled that I get to continue to work with them.

Would you ever actually want to travel to space?

Noooooo. [Laughs] I would not! First of all, I’m not a huge fan of flying, but I guess … I say no, but it’s mostly because on set, I was able to have a lot of time with a real-life astronaut, Nicole Stott, and I asked her a lot of questions. And I get claustrophobic, so one thing that she told me was that when you’re in preparation for going to space, you have to do a lot of underwater work. Like, deep water, they train in these giant tanks.

Yeah, that sounds utterly miserable.

I don’t think I could do the tank training, but maybe I could do a movie where I’m in space.

Well, if you did want to go to space, who would you want as part of your crew?

Oh well, I would definitely bring my daughters with me, and probably, we would have to bring our cats. And then we also just got two little hamsters, so I guess they’re going, too. And I don’t know what we’d do about the fish, I guess it would stay home.

It sounds like an effective mission so far.

Exactly. And then I would bring my friends … and margaritas! Those would be the things that I’d bring to space.


Speaking of friends, you’re famous for being a good friend. What do you feel is the most effective way for women to have each other’s backs?

Well, to just have each other’s backs!

That’s simple enough, I like it.

If you really want to know what I think, truly. I think that most women don’t find it as difficult to cultivate long-lasting female friendship as the media and articles would make it seem to be. Because most women that I talk to, and women who follow me on Instagram and comment or meet in public, all tell me, “Oh, you and Michelle [Williams] are just like me and my best friend,” or “my best friends and I talk about how you would be our best friend, too.” And I get asked about how to cultivate female friendships a lot, but I feel like that’s something that gets perpetrated a lot on us. Do you know what I’m saying?

Yes, people sort-of unconsciously like to pit women against each other or want to believe that’s the case.

Correct. And to me, it’s a no-brainer. It’s not even a consideration. I support my friends, I show up for my friends’ successes, and I think you just need to be in touch and self-aware if you have feelings of envy or jealousy of someone else, you just have to recognize what that is and move through it. That’s a normal human emotion. Everybody feels that from time to time, but it doesn’t have to dictate your behavior or how you operate in your friendships. Just go therapy, I guess, is my point!

On the subject of Michelle, there was a rightful ruckus about that Mark Wahlberg movie, All The Money In The World.

Oh yes, yes. Of course.

She was paid considerably less money than he was, and you’ve also been open about being on three major TV shows, and there’s not been much money there. Does it surprise you that this is still an issue?

I don’t find anything to be particularly surprising, but I do think it’s incredible that we are continuing to have to have these conversations. And that these things are being brought out into the open, so that we can really make an effort and move toward changing. That’s basically the biggest takeaway, right? As long as we keep communicating, and we keep bringing these issues into the forefront, we can work toward closing the pay gap, especially for women of color and really work toward real equality.

We’re almost out of time here, but do you have plans for the game?

We’re probably going to go over to our friends’ house. They have a party every year, and I’ll make guacamole.

Guacamole is never a mistake. And you are rooting, I’d guess, for the California team?

Yeah, I guess I’ve gotta go with San Francisco, right? The 49ers. I’ve gotta be honest, I’m really in it for the snacks and ads, but I guess I’ll pick San Francisco!

Watch Busy’s Super Bowl commercial for Olay below.