Brooke Shields likes her tequila straight and with a little bit of lemon, please.
Maybe you didn’t know that, but you surely know Shields. She once told the world nothing came between her and her Calvins. She’s eyebrows. She’s had a decades-long career in film and fashion and, if you ask us, was a supermodel before the term even existed.
Shields will be in Austin this week for her first visit to town in about 12 years. She'll be the featured guest at the Women’s Symphony League of Austin’s Jewel Ball Fashion Luncheon Sept. 20. "Project Runway’s" Tim Gunn was the guest last year, and just before, we taught him what a French tuck is.
We talked with Shields by phone ahead of her visit.
On the fashion industry
The fashion and modeling world has changed since Shields first graced the cover of American Vogue at the age of 14 in February 1980.
For Shields, fashion never really was about having a political slant as much as it was about being creative and representing the vision of a designer.
“I think that now there’s so many platforms, I don’t think it’s just fashion and modeling. I think they’ve gotten more political, and everybody is almost now required to make a political statement or be current in the political vein with regards to what their message is, rather than just their aesthetic and their fashion," she said. "And I think that’s a little bit of a shame, because just like I say with any roles that I take, at a certain point, what I’m doing is just entertaining.
“I don’t think I always have to be making a statement about equality or about whatever the climate is.”
On 'Jane the Virgin'
The moment Shields appears on the fourth season of the CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” she’s got you. She's tall and goofy as River Fields, the nemesis of Rogelio, played by Jaime Camil.
The pair get into a handful of hijinks you’ll have to watch to believe. We will tell you, though, that River Fields ends up with her eyebrows burned off. Don’t worry: The eyebrows are insured.
Shields was asked by executive producer Jennie Urman to be on the show. Urman and Shields worked together on “Lipstick Jungle” and both went to Princeton, Shields said.
The play on Shields’ name and eyebrows is classic “Jane the Virgin” winking to its audience. Yes, we know it’s Brooke Shields; no, we couldn’t bring her on without mentioning the eyebrows, the winks seem to say.
“They originally wanted me to play my name, and I said, ‘It’s so much better if you just, instead of Brooke, you do something like River or, you know, Stream,'" Shields said. “I said that we could really put a lot of effort into a different comedic place if we made her a character.”
“Jane the Virgin,” Shields says, has a cult following of young people that she first noticed in Brooklyn and while visiting coffee shops.
“They all loved ‘Jane the Virgin,’" she said.
“It’s family and it’s the power that women have without male-bashing and sort of this acceptance of differentness yet equalness,” Shields said. “There’s this heart through line that runs through it, which you keep going back to, which is why I think it ran for so many years.”
On social media
For Shields, social media is a double-edged sword. It’s opened up the modeling world to different ideas of beauty, but it’s also created more space for bullying, she said.
“I think unfortunately social media is equally as detrimental because of bullying and shaming,” Shields said. “Yes, we’re able to portray more and more people have a voice, but then with that voice, more people feel free to attack, and they can do it from the privacy of their own home, which is just, I believe, very dangerous.”
As a model who came from a time with a more narrow point of view, Shields said, new ideas of beauty can be refreshing and beautiful.
“If used well and with integrity, it can be extraordinary,” Shields said of social media.