Soleil Moon Frye: ‘pre social media we were able to live our lives, just be ourselves’

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Soleil Moon Frye is 44, which makes me feel old because I’m older than her. I never really got into Punky Brewster as a kid though. It had four seasons, from 1984 to 1988, and I think I was watching Diff’rent Strokes and Who’s The Boss back then. Punky annoyed me, I’ll be honest. Soleil is doing well though, she avoided a lot of the pitfalls of kid actors. She’s now a separated mom of four, she has two teenage daughters and two sons, aged six and almost four, with her husband of 22 years producer Jason Goldberg. Soleil filed for divorce in December.

Soleil has a new documentary based on her life called Kid 90 that premieres March 12th Hulu. It uses hundreds of hours of footage she shot on VHS at the time. She was on Jimmy Kimmel live promoting it, and her interview really made me want to see that. She seemed really open and vulnerable when she talked about how meaningful it was to her to look back at her childhood by viewing those tapes and editing them into the documentary. Here’s some of what she told Jimmy and the video is below.

Watching the footage again after all this time
I turned 40 and I was wondering if my life had happened how I thought it happened. I had lost some people that were very close to me. I don’t think I wanted to deal with the pain. In unlocking Pandora’s box [and watching the footage] I discovered true self love and self awareness in a way that I’ve never understood.

She was friends with so many other child actors of the 80s
It’s so wonderful because we had such a joyful innocence. There was a group of us that were truly authentic friends.

This was pre social media we were able to live our lives and just be ourselves. I really loved people. I didn’t realize how loved back I was by those people.

On how she made the documentary
When I started the documentary I didn’t want it to be about me. I tried to make it about everybody but me. It was going to be about the death of privacy but it ended up becoming like the death of my own privacy. I cut a full found footage version. I had never watched all the tapes. I had to sit with the hundreds of hours of tapes and just live through the joy and also the heartbreak that had happened and the people that are no longer with us.

I felt like I was coming of age again to be able to share it with [my daughters].

On the Punky Brewster reboot
I’m still Punky and it’s like Punky and are rediscovering our Punky power. There’s a little girl, Izzy, who reminds Punky of herself. It’s really about coming of age again. Freddie Prinze Jr. plays my ex husband.

[From Jimmy Kimmel Live on YouTube]

The Punky Brewster reboot is coming sooner than this documentary, that’s out on Peacock tomorrow. The trailer makes it look really dumb. Even though Peacock is included in my cable subscription this isn’t something I would watch. I will definitely watch Kid 90 on Hulu though! Jimmy sold it too because he loves 80s nostalgia and seemed like he enjoyed it a lot.

Seeing the trailer for this, below, makes me wish I had video from that time in my life. It also made me feel so many things about growing up then. Jimmy said that Brian Austin Green particularly came off well in this. I agree with Soleil that it was different growing in the 80s because we didn’t have social media. We also didn’t have these type of amazing taped memories from that time for the most part. Kids growing up now and in the early 2000s will have more video and photos from their childhood and those are precious.

Here’s the trailer for Kid 90!

Here’s Soleil’s interview

She shared this photo with Will Smith and Mark Wahlberg!
Will Smith Soleil Marky Mark

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17 Responses to “Soleil Moon Frye: ‘pre social media we were able to live our lives, just be ourselves’”

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  1. Ariel says:

    Now i’m mad i turned off my hulu subscription. Because i really want to watch this.

  2. lucy2 says:

    I’ll probably watch both. I remember little about it beside the refrigerator episode, but I know I loved Punky as a kid.
    I truly can’t imagine being in junior high or high school now with all the social media.

    • Sid says:

      I can see the good in it that maybe kids and teens who feel isolated or like they don’t fit in their school or neighborhood can go online and find other kids and teens who are like them and make friends that way or at least feel a little validated. That can be life-saving. But the dark aspects just seem to out-weigh the good so much of the time.

      • lucy2 says:

        That’s true – you can find community and friendship through social media, and there are definitely good aspects to it, but I agree, the bad parts usually seem to outweigh it.

  3. Emm says:

    I was obsessed with Punky and wanted to be her and have her room especially. That wagon bed thing she had lol. I will always remember the refrigerator episode though.

    Gosh I have a lot of feelings about this and I think often about how my kids are growing up now and how I grew up and I feel very lucky and like we were the last generation to grow up in this “old fashioned” way. The way of only having a handful of photos or video of every year and they were mostly of vacations or special occasions. Not being able to get ahold of someone in an instant, not knowing everyone’s thoughts and what they were doing at all times, playing outside all of the time without checking a phone. Just being with people. My mom even says she’s glad she doesn’t have kids right now (thanks mom) because it was easier in her day, there wasn’t so much to worry about or do.

    My kids have thousands of pics and videos of their short lives because yeah I’m obsessed but then it makes me think of how much time I’m wasting taking pics when I should be down there with them because am I really going to go back and look at all of these? My parents were fine with not documenting my every growth spurt lol. It’s hard not to be connected though because it feels like it’s required now and people say you have to go with the times and technology. I’m not on any social media right now but I still constantly check the news and have instant access to products via Amazon.

    • ab says:

      I feel you on all of this! I’m a baby Gen-Xer or an Elder Millennial, and I don’t want to get all “kids these days” but I am glad we were able to have the analog childhood we did. The world has changed so much and not all of it for the better. I also have a million photos and videos of my kids that I never look at, and have made an effort in the last couple of years to NOT take random pictures of them every time we go to the zoo or whatever, and just enjoy the moments instead. My entire childhood exists in like two photo albums and it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out.

    • Margot says:

      Was just coming here to post about the refrigerator episode! Freaked me out as a kid!

  4. Jennyrev says:

    Gawd, could Jimmy interrupt her any more? Let the woman finish a thought, dude.

  5. Kate says:

    Who is the guy who says “it seemed like I was losing a friend every week” at 1:18? I don’t recognize him…

    • Emm says:

      That’s Balthazar Getty, I know him from White Squall which I watched over and over and over… But he’s part of the Getty family.

      Also I forgot to say in my comment that I was OBSESSED with Jonathan Brandis. I even watched Seaquest for him when I didn’t even like that kind of show. I had posters all over my room of him. Ugh.

    • manda says:

      I LOVED Balthazar Getty in middle school. He was in the Lord of the Flies.

      Jonathan Brandis was in the It miniseries in the early-90s, which I liked better than that awful movie from the last few years

  6. Bookie says:

    I came to the comments to see if someone could answer that for me too!

  7. L84Tea says:

    Dang, I didn’t realize she was divorcing Jason Goldberg. I always thought they were so cute together. 🙁

  8. manda says:

    I remember the refrigerator episode, and then remember there was a scary episode once, I can’t remember what happened but it was freaky. I loved the show and would get annoyed because it was often preempted by football overtime. This documentary looks great, I for sure want to see this. Doubt I’ll check out the rebooted Punky, but if that dog is not called Brandon or something similar, I will be annoyed. I feel like he was named for Marlon Brando, she just didn’t know what his name really was, lol

  9. emu says:

    Oh man that looks so good! I’m nostalgic already!

  10. Doglas3000 says:

    I remember when Soleil was a size F and she wrote about how she got a breast reduction at the time as she’s tiny in stature. She was still a teen at the time and is around my age. I also remember her being part of the kid actors of the 80’s group like Leo DiCaprio, alleged rapist Danny Masterson and his brother Christopher, the Ribisi’s. I always wondered if she was a Scientologist or just came from hippie family. She met her husband after writing a screenplay with her older brother Meeno and Jason Goldberg produced it. He fell in love with her when she was so young! Doesn’t surprise after 22 years plus, they are divorcing. He’s BFF’s and business partners with Ashton Kutcher since before they did Punked.