Molly Shannon Calls N.Y.C. Home for the Holidays

We recently spoke to the actress about her children, their holiday traditions and her work with Centrum's 'Amazingly Energized Woman' campaign.

You likely loved her on Saturday Night Live, and caught her on Will & Grace, Kath & Kim and even Glee. Molly Shannon has tackled many roles in her life, but the one the 46-year-old actress cherishes most is that of motherhood.

As mom to Stella, 7, and Nolan, 5½ (with artist husband Fritz Chesnut), Shannon’s stepped out of the spotlight in recent years, but is currently starring on Broadway in Promises, Promises and working on a project for HBO — about a jilted nun!

We recently spoke to the actress about her children, their holiday traditions and her work with Centrum’s ‘Amazingly Energized Woman’ campaign.

How are Stella and Nolan doing?

They’re so sweet. They’re doing so great. We’re all here in New York City now, because I’m on Broadway in Promises, Promises, so we’re doing every fun New York City thing: ice skating, eating at the revolving restaurant [The View] on top of the Marriot Marquis, going to the Big Apple Circus. We’re going to see The Nutcracker, too.

We’re just having a ball! It’s so fun being here with the kids at Christmastime. With children, Christmas is even more exciting. We got a tree — but we have another place we just moved into, so we’re getting another tree, too. My kids are into Christmas; my son is like me, really exuberant, like, ‘Look at that ornament!’

Do they believe in Santa Claus? What did they ask for this year?

I took them to see Santa at Macy’s the other day, and they do still believe. They’re starting to get the hang of it — they do get that my husband and I buy presents, too. But they think that we get some, and Santa gets some.

We moved into a place about a week ago that doesn’t have a chimney, so they’re worried about how Santa will get into our apartment. We told them not to worry; a friend of mine actually told my son that Santa is like Spiderman, and can cut through the windows, so he’s really excited for that!

Nolan wants Star Wars Legos. He can do the sets for 8- to 14-year-olds by himself, even though he’s 5! My daughter wants a Pillow Pet, a Barbie car, a Baby Alive. She wants everything! Where do I even begin?

Are you living full-time in New York City right now?

We live in Los Angeles. We moved there about a year ago, so it was funny to get this Broadway offer not long after that. So we’re just here for the run (through Jan. 2), we pulled the kids out of school to be with me, and luckily my husband was able to come here, too. We’ve just relocated for three months.

How have you enjoyed Promises, Promises?

I’m having so much fun! Kristin Chenoweth, Sean Hayes, Tony Goldwyn, Dick Latessa … I really feel like we have the best cast. Everybody is so nice — it’s really a dream job. I feel like I’m working with people I’ve been friends with for a long time; it’s a warm feeling on stage. I feel really lucky — I’m having the time of my life.

Is the schedule pretty conducive to parenthood?

It is pretty reasonable. I do two shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the rest of the days shows are in the evening, so I can essentially have the whole day with my kids and go to work at night. It’s a very family-friendly schedule.

I find it easier than television. Although it’s harder in that it’s very athletic. If you pull a muscle or lose your voice, you have to keep going on.

The hardest part is that people who don’t have kids can rest their voices during the day, but moms like me can’t. The vocal coaches tell me not to talk, but I say, ‘I’m a mom, I’m always talking!’ For mothers on Broadway, it’s a little more tiring.

What is your favorite part of motherhood?

I love all the questions they ask. And how you get to re-experience everything. Like going to that revolving restaurant at the Marriott — they were so excited. I remember doing that when I was little, and I love that they have the same excitement I did.

I knew I would love it, but I love it even more than I thought. It’s so deeply rewarding. And my kids are at such fun ages. People say, ‘Enjoy it, it goes fast,’ and I feel like I am enjoying it! This is fun!

I like acting, too, but it has become secondary to me, because I really love watching my kids grow up. I love spending so much time with them, too. That’s the battle: You work, but finding that balance between how much you want to work and being present, being there as much as you can for them, is hard.

I do love my work, and because I do, it makes me a happy mom. I think it’s good role modeling for them — they see me enjoying what I do, and that’s positive for them.

Do your children have an affinity for the arts, since you and your husband are so artsy?

Yes, both of my kids love drawing, my daughter especially. She’s really into that, very creative. She’s just quite imaginative. Nolan is a real design guy, into colors, patterns and designs. And they’re both really good storytellers. They’re both artsy, but in different ways.

Have they ever seen an episode of Saturday Night Live?

They’ve never seen SNL! They’ve come to Promises, Promises a couple of times. I have a box seat right off my dressing room, so they’re able to go from my room into their seats. They’ve seen the show about four times now.

They also saw How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which I did with Jim Carrey, and they were really excited. Those are the first two things they’ve seen. They know I’m an actress, but don’t know exactly what I’ve done — which is fine by me!

What’s next for you?

I’m developing [and starring in] a show for HBO about a cloistered nun who leaves the convent at age 40, and goes into the tawdry world of dating and finding herself, after kind of deciding to break up from Jesus Christ. I’m working with a great writer, Tim Long, from The Simpsons.

Tell us about your involvement with Centrum’s ‘America’s Most Amazingly Energized Woman’ campaign.

This is for busy mothers, or anyone, really. Women do so much more nowadays — working, taking care of the kids, going to school. We just really need to take the best care of ourselves so we can be there for our kids, family, our children.

Go to LoveFeelingHealthy.com, where you can nominate someone you think would be a good candidate, and write 300 words as to why you think they’re an amazingly energized woman. The winner gets a gift package filled with great adventures! [There are also four runners-up, and Centrum coupons available.] I’m into being healthy, waking up, taking my vitamin and exercising, so it’s a nice campaign to be a part of.

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