Brooklyn Decker: Actress, Finery Co-Founder and lip sync phenom receives Austin Film Society’s Rising Star Award
by Hannah Morrow
Portrait by Kristen Kilpatrick
Production stills courtesy of Netflix
Brooklyn Decker and I are on a call when she says she can’t find her phone. There’s a beat, then it hits her. “Oh my god,” she says into the device already at her ear. “That was mom brain.” The lapse is entirely forgiven — I have no kids and look for my keys while they’re in my hand more than I care to admit — and she can really bear no blame. Decker’s life has a lot of moving parts.
This month, the supermodel turned actress will be recognized for a few of those parts by the Austin Film Society at its annual Texas Film Awards. The Rising Star Award, which has previously been given to Armie Hammer and Jesse Plemons, highlights her growth as an artist, as well as her entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts. She says that despite dabbling in local theater as a kid, acting wasn’t on the table as a career. “My mom was a critical care nurse; my dad was a respiratory therapist; my brother is a firefighter. They were saving people’s lives,” says Decker of her early aspirations. “It had nothing to do with entertainment or creativity.”
A few years after getting scouted at a mall in Matthews, North Carolina, she moved to New York to pursue modeling in 2005. In lieu of a college experience, she furthered her education by working with an acting coach. “And that was it. I fell in love with the language, and it was fun to have something to read and work on,” she says. “It was a really innocent entrance into acting.” While continuing to grace magazine covers, most notably Sports Illustrated, Decker took on smaller roles until her big break, 2011’s “Just Go With It,” alongside Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.
Since then, Decker has guest-starred on a number of shows, including FOX’s “New Girl” and ABC’s “Ugly Betty.” More recently, she starred in fellow Austinite and AFS-backed filmmaker Andrew Bujalski’s “Support the Girls” and is a regular cast member on Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” the five-season dramedy featuring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
On top of a successful series and two small children (three-year-old son Hank and 15-month-old daughter Stevie) with husband and tennis champion Andy Roddick, Decker serves as chief design officer for the fashion web platform Finery, which she launched in 2015 with journalist and former news anchor Whitney Casey. “At the end of the day, it comes down to boredom,” says Decker, who’s philanthropic efforts extend to the Special Olympics, the Sierra Club and the Austin-based Andy Roddick Foundation. “I think there is ambition but a general curiosity and fear of boredom that drives my activity. Asking myself, will I be fulfilled by this project? If not, what’s the next thing? What can I create? What can I do better?”
Rapid Fire with Decker
WHAT ARE YOUR NICKNAMES?
Double Agent Decker.
WHEN YOU WERE A KID, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP NOW?
A really happy grandma — not anytime soon!
WHAT’S ALWAYS IN YOUR PURSE?
WHAT’S SOMETHING THAT RECENTLY MOVED YOU?
Microsoft’s Super Bowl commercial — I cried. It was beautiful and inclusive.
In honor of your recent “Lip Sync Battle,” what’s your go-to karaoke song?
Anything off the Beyoncé “Lemonade” album.
What sport or game can you beat Andy in?
The only thing I’ve ever been better at than him is rock climbing — we’ve only done it once.
THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT TEXAS WHEN YOU MOVED HERE?
Austin is such a melting pot of ideas. I love that you can have a UT booster sitting next to a woman with purple hair, and they can be the best of friends.
FAVORITE MEAL IN AUSTIN?
The chef’s tasting menu at Uchiko — whatever they want to make me.
AN ACTING ROLE YOU WOULD LOVE TO PLAY?
Steve Carell in “Little Miss Sunshine” — it was so funny and sad and great. Ellen Page in “Juno.” That sort of slice-of-life filmmaking I really like.
SOMETHING YOU LEARNED FROM JANE FONDA?
Never stop serving people. She’s constantly working to help people; she never stops.
SOMETHING YOU LEARNED FROM LILY TOMLIN?
Always play on set, even if you’re breaking all the rules. There was a moment where she stuck her tongue in a bowl of cereal puffs, and it made the trailer.
MOST INVINCIBLE YOU’VE EVER FELT?
SOMETHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO?
Learn Spanish fluently.
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO ARTICLE OF CLOTHING OR ACCESSORY?
A black blazer.
WHOSE CLOSET WOULD YOU MOST WANT TO RAID?
BESIDES FINERY, WHAT APP DO YOU USE THE MOST?