'This Is Us' star Mandy Moore talks about motherhood and music
Maybe the signs were already there.
Mandy Moore phoned last month, three concerts into her first tour in 15 years. Her joy of being back in front of a live audience was palpable, but one could sense her trying to mask the stress of being on the road with a 16-month-old child and another baby due this fall.
"It's a lot harder than I was anticipating," said the singer/actress, who spent the past six years starring in NBC's popular "This Is Us." "This is a lot different than being 23, the last time I'd been on tour."
Touring was a major adjustment for her biorhythms.
"I'm an early bird. I'm usually asleep by the time I'm going onstage," she said last month while still on tour. "If I had my druthers, I'd go to bed at 8 o'clock. Seriously, I have to wake up at 3:30, 4 a.m. to go to work (in acting). I'm just so used to (it). Having a kid for the last year and a half and waking up with him and feeding him and all of that sort of stuff, that was so easy for me."
But Moore was getting to bed after midnight while briefly on tour last month, and the late nights just weren't working for her.
"I've never been that person," she said.
So, on June 28, she pulled the plug on her tour, eliminating 14 July concerts.
She wrote on Instagram: "When we booked these shows, I wasn't pregnant and although I truly thought I could power through, the way we are traveling (long hours on the bus and not getting proper rest) has caught up, taken its toll, and made it feel too challenging to proceed."
Moore, 38, is facing reality with candidness, calling herself a "boring old woman even pre-children."
Moore has been in the public eye for more than half her life.
While in high school in Orlando, Florida, she signed a contract with Epic Records and toured as an opener for NSync and Backstreet Boys. Her popular debut single, "Candy," didn't exactly dethrone such then-hot singers as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, but Moore landed a gig as an MTV VJ and won the Kids' Choice Award for favorite rising star in 2000.
The next year found Moore juggling music and movies, acting in "Dr. Dolittle 2" and the very successful "The Princess Diaries." Her first starring role came a year later in the cult-loved tearjerker "A Walk to Remember."
After taking a break from recording 2009-2020, Moore doesn't care if she doesn't fit into the pop landscape right now.
"I'm definitely an outlier. I'm not in the mainstream. That's OK," she said.
She admits that because she hasn't been tremendously successful in music, she can continue on her terms without paying attention to TikTok or algorithms.
In 2020, she released "Silver Landings," an adult pop collection and her first collaboration with her husband, Taylor Goldsmith, frontman of the band Dawes.
"I have found it incredibly comfortable and familiar to be collaborative with him. I think I was nervous about it initially," she said. "He's most incredibly generous and profoundly prolific."
They worked together again on this year's "In Real Life." The opening line of the title track grabs listeners: "I just got a front-row seat to real life." That lyric was sparked by them learning they were going to be parents.
"Nothing is realer. I have lived so much of my life recently on camera," she said. "As fantastic as it is playing a fictional matriarch, the idea that this was happening to me in real life — this is what I've been waiting for."
Also on the album were Dawes members Griffin Goldsmith and Lee Pardini, and guitarist Matthew Koma (Eve 6), who co-wrote three songs with Moore.
Koma is married to onetime teen star Hilary Duff, Moore's bestie. When they socialize, it's Mom Talk.
"She has three kids. I don't know how she does it," Moore said. "As successful as she is at her job, she makes it all seem so effortless. She's married to a touring musician. We definitely both know what it's like to be at home raising the kiddos."
Like Duff, Moore was married and divorced before. Her first husband, acclaimed singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, was the subject of an in-depth expose by the New York Times of inappropriate sexual conduct allegations against him.
Without mentioning Adams, Moore admitted that she considered abandoning her music career after her first marriage.
"There was a lot of baggage I had to unpack before I could feel music is in the cards for me again," she said. "I think through a period of years where I thought that chapter of my life might be over. Maybe I'm just going to focus on acting. Maybe I'll go back to school. Maybe I'll move back to Florida. There was a lot of confusion of what was necessarily next for me.
"Once I was in safe company, I think it was only natural to share (musical ideas) with Taylor. It felt easy to open up with him."