Brooklyn Decker is probably best known for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue — including the highly coveted cover, which she landed in 2010. But the Austinite will tell you that modeling wasn't really her thing.
So she parlayed that modeling success into acting, landing roles in several movies, including What to Expect When You're Expecting, Just Go With It, and Battleship. Now the new mom — she and tennis-pro husband Andy Roddick welcomed their first child in September 2015 — has a regular gig on Netflix series Grace and Frankie.
Recently Decker was in Dallas, for an appearance on NPR's Ask Me Another, a new podcast that blends brainteasers, pub trivia, comedy, and music into an hour of fun. It's all filmed in front of a live audience, and the one shot at Majestic Theatre airs November 11.
Decker chatted with us about her life, career, and being cool.
CultureMap: What do you think of the NPR show and this turnout?
Brooklyn Decker: It's really fun! They get an interesting scope of people on the show, and I love how loose it is. It definitely has its own niche, and it's really quirky.
CM: How's family life in Austin?
BD: It's great. It's fun having a kid around. It's a game changer.
CM: You don't seem concerned with being cool or trendy.
BD: If I'm saying I want to be cool or trendy, it's because I live in the woods and spend most of my off-time in the woods. I'm sort of an outsider with my job. But cool and trendy in fashion and as a model are entirely different things.
I grew up in North Carolina. We live in Austin — which is a really fun city — but away from the entertainment hubs of Los Angeles and New York. The idea of being in a business that epitomized trendy and cool was something that didn't feel natural for me.
CM: At what point did you decide to quit modeling?
BD: When I got hired, a few times, to act. (Laughs.) I moved to New York when I was 18, and the idea was I would go to work and go back to school. I had some success that was very specific, like with Sports Illustrated. But I never walked a runway; I barely got hired to work a lot of things.
I wasn't what the standard of a model was at that time. I really didn't love it.
CM: But then you started studying acting.
BD: I started studying because I missed school. I started auditioning, and things started happening. I realized I can actually do this for a career.
CM: Season two of Grace and Frankie was released in May. Has season three wrapped yet?
BD: We just wrapped four weeks ago.
CM: Are there any spoilers you can offer?
BD: June Diane Raphael plays my sister, or I should say I play her sister. What I love about season three is that we get to dive into the history of their relationship and what their relationship as sisters is really like.
Obviously, there is a deep love and loyalty to one another, but it's also very raw. It can be rough around the edges and unfiltered. They're really diving into that sister relationship, which I think is great. When you look at television now, I don't know that there is a really fleshed-out sister relationship.
CM: The stars of the show range in age from late 20s to 70s. Multiple generations of comedy are represented. How does that dynamic work?
BD: It all starts and ends with the writers' room, but I would say it's really collaborative. You watch Lily Tomlin, who has been a comedy icon for decades. You see Baron Vaughn bringing in his standup background. It's a big melting pot.
CM: You mentioned following Jane Fonda's workout video with your mom. Was that the first you knew of her?
BD: No. I first knew of her being a feminist icon and speaking up during the Civil Rights movement. I knew of her as a political activist before I knew of her work. But she's such a figure in pop culture that I don't ever remember a time of not knowing who she is.
CM: What keeps you in Austin?
BD: Everything. I appreciate working in Los Angeles, but I crave a quieter life. I love the food, I love the people. I love that it has a certain grittiness to it, but you don't ever feel like you are lacking for anything there.
CM: Tell me about being an ambassador for the Andy Roddick Foundation.
BD: It's Andy's foundation that he started when he was 17. His mentor was Andre Agassi, who told him you can't start philanthropy soon enough. It started out as an umbrella organization where he would just fundraise and donate. Now the goal is to have the No.1 out-of-school program in the state. One day maybe take it nationally.
It's all about maximizing out-of-school time. That time usually isn't spent with any mentor or any sort of education or instruction. If you can have people come in and provide a little bit of guidance and leadership, you see increased success.
CM: You completed an indie film called Band Aid. What was it like working with an all-female crew?
BD: It was very different. The efficiency was unlike any I've seen before.
CM: Back in May, you pointed out some digital alterations made to your Sports Illustrated cover during your appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Did the attention that garnered surprise you?
BD: I think people were surprised that I said it. I don't think anyone is surprised by the fact that people use Photoshop. I don't think anyone is surprised by the fact that on a shoot you get your hair and makeup done to make you look better than you are.
What I felt guilty about is that I said it within the context of Sports Illustrated. They've been a champion for women with real bodies for years.