You know her name. You know her movies. But did you know that Jamie Lee Curtis is a published children's author? And we're not just talking about one book here, folks. Curtis has penned 11 children books, with her first being released over 20 years ago in 1993. Now, her most recent book, Me, Myselfie & I: A Cautionary Tale, tackles the ongoing issue we as human beings have of being distracted by the shiny little electronic devices we refuse to put down: our cell phones. The best part? Jamie Lee Curtis wrote Me, Myselfie & I in just two hours after a comment on Instagram inspired her to do so. Yes, really.
"My books come out of nothing, but it's obviously something I've been thinking about, and observing," Curtis told me when we met in the back of a popular coffee shop New York City earlier this month. During our chat, she is hot off of a Today Show interview and fired up over the release of her latest picture book. My first question for Curtis? What inspired her to write the cautionary tale, to which she tells me: "I'm an actor, so I observe people. Do you know what I mean? It's my job, so it's clearly something I have observed over the course of, now, quite a while, but it only came to me in the instant of creation."
After ordering my iced coffee for me, Curtis goes on to explain that she was on an airplane when she took a selfie using a selfie stick that she had been gifted for Christmas. She then shared it on her Instagram. "And I wrote the caption, 'Mommy got a selfie stick.' I posted a picture, which is the picture in the back of the book, first one, and a friend of mine who is a writer commented and said, 'Is that a new children's book?' By the time the plane landed, it was a book," Curtis explained.
I tell Curtis that I think that is just incredible, and in return she explains that it's her gift — but she is careful to specify that said gift comes in a lowercase "g," not a capital "G."
"It's my gift, and I use that with a little 'g'. Do you know what I mean? It's literally the process," Curtis said. When asked if she would like to use said gift to write books for adults, her demeanor changes. Curtis makes it clear that that is not something she's planning to do any time soon. Instead, Curtis declares she wants to "leave" that for the John Steinbecks of the world.
Mommy, Daddy, put down your phone, and look at your kid, and read a book, and look at nature, and listen to classical music.
As for Me, Myselfie, & I: A Cautionary Tale, Curtis goes on to explain that while the book is categorized for children, it is really meant for the whole family to enjoy. "The book is for families, which is what picture books really are. My picture books particularly are for families, because I wrote the book after being a parent reading book after book," Curtis shared. "I'm telling you, there were some of these books — I won't name them — where if my daughter picked that book, I would look at the sky like, 'No. Why? Again?'" That is something I'm sure most, if not all, parents can definitely relate to.
"I wrote books that are really funny," Curtis further explains, ready to point out the little easter eggs she's planted for different family members. "There is a line of music for the adults. A book I wrote called 'Today I Feel Silly', the subtitle is 'Other Moods That Make My Day.' Where does 'make my day' come from?" Curtis is genuinely asking me if I know where it comes from, and I do: it comes from the Clint Eastwood film, Dirty Harry, and is one of the most iconic film quotes of all time. "'Today I Feel Silly' is for the child, and 'Other Moods That Make My Day' was my nod to the parent. All throughout my books basically, there's a line of music for children, colors, silly things happening, and a line for the adults," Curtis explains in a way that feels like she's revealing the secret to her success. "That's how my books have been successful. That's my gift with a little 'g,' a baby 'g.'"
When Curtis talks about the books and her gift with a little "g," it's clear that while they aren't taking up too much of her time, they are extremely important to her. She may not realize it, but her gift with a little "g" is giving a very big gift (with a capital "G," some might agree) to the children and families who read her books — especially Me, Myselfie & I: A Cautionary Tale. In the story, a mom is gifted a smartphone for her birthday. Soon the phone becomes an obsession, and the mom is more focused on making sure she gets the perfect shot of every single moment rather than just being in the moment. It's something we're all guilty of at one time or another, parents or not.
Before Curtis and I leave the coffee shop behind and go our separate ways, I ask her one more question: is there anything she wants to say to the families that will be reading her new book? It only takes Curtis a second or so to put together the words.
"'Mommy, put down your phone.' That would be my message to people," Curtis told Romper, in closing. "Mommy, Daddy, put down your phone, and look at your kid, and read a book, and look at nature, and listen to classical music."
Me, Myselfie & I: A Cautionary Tale, is available now.