The Bravo network’s first scripted show, “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” (GG2D), has given viewers an intimate look at a tight-knit group of resilient women tackling life as best they can. It’s funny, heartwarming, at times heartbreaking, and extremely relatable. As any longtime viewer can attest, the show leaves you with a greater appreciation for the close ties of female friendship.
A comedy-drama based on the “Girlfriends’ Guide” book series by Vicki Iovine, the show debuted in December 2014 to rave reviews. As newly single Abby McCarthy (played by actress Lisa Edelstein) began to navigate life as a single mom of two children, preconceived ideas of what post-marriage life should look like were shaken up. Although the title insinuates a show about divorce, it’s really a story of relationships.
The past three seasons have packed a lot of unexpected and life-changing experiences for the ladies, but their bond of friendship has been the constant throughout. That’s not to say they haven’t had their share of disagreements—but at the end of the day, it’s their relationships with each other that see them through. (That, and some fabulous shoes!)
The ladies are known for rocking some amazing outfits, no matter the occasion. Whether for a night out with the girls or even a child’s sporting event, their fashion-forward choices do not disappoint. Who can forget Abby’s outfit last season at the baseball field—a pair of red, sky-high, lace-up stilettos and a slinky Ramy Brook tank top? Not your typical sportswear. Then again, these ladies make their own rules.
As GG2D returns for its fourth and penultimate season on August 17, fans can expect to see a continuation of each character’s journey, and of course, enviable fashion.
BELLA got up close and personal with the cast to chat about everything from the show and the amazing fashion to what’s up next for their characters and themselves.
At just 3 years old, actress Lisa Edelstein knew exactly what she was going to do when she grew up, and she hasn’t looked back since. “I am living my dream,” she says.
While attending the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, she got involved in the New York club scene, and a write-up in The
New York Times Magazine cast a spotlight that brought a bit of unwanted attention. That article led her to quickly discover fame was not her goal. “I knew if I wanted to become an actress, it had better be because I love acting,” she says.
After she escaped the club scene, Edelstein channeled her energy into writing a screenplay called “Positive Me,” based on the AIDS crisis.
“Because of the experiences I had and people I met during that time in my life, it helped me refocus my energy to become the artist I really wanted to be,” she says. “I’m deeply grateful for the many colors of my life experiences and the incredible array of humans I’ve been fortunate enough to be acquainted with.”
From there, Edelstein continued to master her craft with appearances on shows like “Sports Night,” “Seinfeld,” “Ally McBeal,” and “The West Wing.” In 2004, she signed on to the cast of “House” in the role of Dr. Lisa Cuddy, a character she portrayed for seven seasons.
Although she says she never leaped into the limelight, smaller jobs led to bigger jobs that led to more creative and successful jobs. “I just put my foot in the door and wouldn’t let it shut,” she says. “I’m stubborn and persistent, and I love what I get to do for a living.”
When Edelstein first read the script for GG2D, she immediately knew Abby was a character she wanted to portray. “I had never been given an opportunity like this,” she says. “Playing the lead role, playing a character whose emotional life and story ranged from high hilarity to intense drama, and getting the opportunity to write and direct, has topped everything in every way in terms of experience.”
Abby McCarthy is a woman others can relate to, and the actress credits Marti Noxon, the show’s creator, for portraying divorce as a nuanced experience. “She didn’t sit in the idea of a good partner or a bad one; she just let the story of a dying marriage be exactly that,” says Edelstein.
A flawed and complex character, Abby may be self-centered and may drink too much, but at the same time she is a loving mother, a loyal friend, and a hard worker. And while Edelstein’s and Abby’s life stories are completely different, the character’s problems are universal. That’s why women approach the actress to thank her—they see themselves in the stories told.
In season four, viewers can expect to see Abby focus on her relationship with Barbara (played by Retta). “They push each other to the limit,” says Edelstein. Fans will also see the return of Abby’s parents, played by Barry Bostwick and Lesley Ann Warren. Plus, the kids are growing up and showing their stripes. As their proud TV mom says, “They’re growing into amazing actors.”
Production has wrapped on the series, and saying goodbye was difficult for the cast and crew. “It was hard, and it was sad, but it was also beautiful,” says Edelstein. “The sweetness of our last days working together matched the incredible energy of the entire length of the series.”
Being part of the series also gave Edelstein the opportunity to write two episodes and direct an episode in season five. “Being on set in another capacity from time to time is a relief,” she says. Plus, the chance to direct gave her permission to make decisions on which she had had opinions for a long time. “My obsessive nature was very satisfied with the multitasking.”
As for the future of acting, writing, and directing, Edelstein says she’s “greedy”: “I want it all of it.” Currently, she’s in the midst of developing a new show, along with traveling, reading scripts, and looking forward to the next fabulous experience to come her way.
Off-camera, she’s a proud supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood. In addition, she’s been working with the Best Friends Animal Society for many years; she even adopted her dog from one of their adoption events.
“They are an incredible group of hard working and dedicated people who have a mission and stick to it,” she says. “I am deeply grateful there are people who are willing and able to do this work, and I will continue to support them as long as I can.”
As part of a business that focuses on beauty, Edelstein describes it as something that lives somewhere between empathy and action. “Beauty is how you deal with what you’ve been given and make yourself the best version of you that you can be.”
For actress Alanna Ubach, being in front of the camera has come naturally since age 5, when she starred in the popular children’s TV series “Romper Room.” At age 14, she began traveling with an actors’ company comprised of adults, which involved intense training in relaxation and sense memory work. “Women and men in their thirties and forties were screaming and crying and talking to themselves; I loved it,” she says. “It was weird and offbeat, and I knew I was in my sphere.”
To date, Ubach has appeared in films such as “Legally Blonde” and “Meet the Fockers,” and TV shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Hung,” and “Californication.” And the actress says she loves all the characters she’s portrayed. “I’ll be hiking by myself and I’ll just shout out my favorite lines from past projects. When I recite the dialogue I’m just touching base; it makes me smile.”
For the past three years, the actress has had another reason to smile—her role as Jo Hernandez-Frumpkis on GG2D, which she describes as “freeing” and “fun as hell.”
It’s a show that doesn’t gloss over the realities of divorce and the complexities of love and friendship, says Ubach. “It winks at you while its heart is breaking, and that’s something only a fairy like Marti Noxon can create.”
Introduced in the middle of season one as Abby’s tough, outspoken best friend from college, Jo shows up in LA after separating from her husband when she learns he has a second family elsewhere. Although Jo exudes a tough exterior, she’s more vulnerable than she lets on. And while Ubach has some things in common with her character, she says she tends to be a bit more neutral in her relationships. “Confrontation gives me the shingles,” says the actress. “Live and let live has always been my motto.”
Since making her way out west from NYC, Jo has gone from one crazy experience to another—from opening her own bakery and briefly falling for her baker to random Tinder dates and hookups. Now, Ubach is ready for Jo to flourish in both romance and business. “I’d like to see her eventually find a suitable, well-adjusted mate,” she says. “She’s kissed way too many toads!”
But if the start of season four is any indication, it doesn’t look like Jo is there just yet. At the end of last season, Jo finds an outlet for her aggression at Tao of Rex, a Thai boxing facility that incorporates boxing and meditation. Running toward what scares her, Jo knows she needs to manage the anger issues she’s been holding on to. What she didn’t expect to find was trouble, and with the appearance of Delia’s boss and ex-lover Albert, fans are speculating whether a hookup between the two is imminent.
Ubach is tight-lipped when it comes to revealing juicy details, but jokingly says, “He’s such a nasty man; how could that ever happen?” But she does admit that Tao of Rex turns out to be a mixed bag for Jo. “She finds a heck of a lot more at that studio than she bargained for,” says the actress. “It eventually gets her in a lot of trouble.”
With season four premiering in August and season five already completed, Ubach says she’s not a fan of saying goodbye. “I’ll miss those amazing actors. Lisa, Beau, Necar, and Retta are incredibly gifted women. Our kibitzing in the makeup and hair trailer was a series unto itself.”
Along with GG2D, Ubach also appears in Amazon’s original series “Hand of God,” a psychological drama starring Ron Perlman and Dana Delany. Fans can also see her in the Marti Noxon-directed film “To the Bone,” which will be released July 14th on Netflix, as well as the indie film “The Last Word,” starring Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried, which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
“It was a bloody honor to work with Dana Delany in ‘Hand of God’ and to be directed by Marti in ‘To the Bone,’” she says. “Being in ‘The Last Word’ was like catching lightning. I’ve always loved Amanda Seyfried’s work, and Shirley MacLaine is a heroine of mine.”
In addition to these projects, Ubach is working on a Pixar movie and starting to pitch her own television show. She tells fans, “Stay tuned!”
She currently portrays the strong, smart, and fiercely independent lawyer Delia Banai on GG2D, but if actress Necar Zadegan looks familiar, it’s probably because she played another strong female character on “24.” She played the first lady on season 8 of the hit series, and although she had already done a fair amount of work and appeared on Broadway by that point, she says that role allowed audiences to take notice and connect with the work she was doing.
“‘24’ was already a hit show so people were watching, but that character and the writers allowed me to do some compelling scenes opposite some great actors,” says Zadegan. It’s a show and a character fans still remember, and the actress is proud of the work they did.
Fast-forward a few years and a few roles later, and Zadegan is again part of a show that’s leaving a lasting impression on viewers. Her character, Delia, is one that a lot of women look up to and aspire to be like. “Delia is a very modern woman, so I think many women can relate to her,” says the actress. “Often there are situations, scenes, or character points that I can personally relate to.”
Zadegan enjoys slipping into Delia’s shoes—and who wouldn’t? Her wardrobe is the stuff of dreams! The actress says she’s fun to portray because she’s smart, sexy, and free, so the situations are full and complex amid the lighter tone of the show. While Delia was not in the initial script, Zadegan and Marti Noxon discussed the possible introduction of this character and where she might go. “I was enamored with Marti and the rest of the stories she had developed within this world, so I jumped in and ultimately, Delia was born,” says Zadegan.
Speaking of amazing wardrobe, the credit goes to costume designer Cynthia Summers, who has created stand-out styles for Zadegan and the rest of the cast. “Cynthia is our fearless designer and we work closely on Delia’s beautiful closet,” says the actress. She describes Summers as thoughtful and creative, and says because of her, she has learned a lot about fashion styling. “It’s definitely been one of my favorite parts of developing this character. Delia is a clothes horse, so she’s given us quite a palette to play with.”
In her personal life, Zadegan is a little more casual than her alter ego, though she loves Delia’s style. “I think I’d love to always be polished like that,” she says. “Boots and flats never made it into Delia’s closet, but they’re staples in mine.”
While Delia usually wears lots of color, Zadegan says there was something about the white suits by Oscar de la Renta and Alexander McQueen that gave her character strength with ease, and were also reminiscent of the marriage and bride storylines.
Fans will remember the extremely short-lived marriage between Delia and Gordon during the season two finale, which ended before it even began. Though some may have been rooting for a happy ending in season three, not everything turns out the way we hope—just like in real life.
For her part, Zadegan enjoyed portraying a storyline that was extremely relatable to others. “The ups and downs of the drama were fun to play because they were different every day,” she says. “The situation was high stakes and personal, so the turns from funny moments to really dramatic scenes were great to portray.”
As the show moves into its fourth and penultimate season, the actress says she’d love to see her character turn away from cultural norms. After all, she’s the only character who is single and childless. “I think this character gives us a real opportunity to allow that as a reality without any stigma attached to it,” says Zadegan.
With this chapter closing, the actress says she will miss the beautiful cast of women and the wonderful crew with whom she has adored working. And fans will have to wait a little longer to find out what’s up next for Zadegan. While she has some new projects in the works, right now she says, “They are all secrets!”
Beau Garrett’s career in modeling with some big-name campaigns changed in the blink of an eye at age 22. “Acting was definitely not on my radar as a model, but it happened quickly and painlessly,” she says.
Her transition to acting led to a variety of projects, and in 2014 she signed on to GG2D as the character of Phoebe Conte, a free-spirited, open-minded woman who happens to be a former model and divorcée with two children, and is looking for some stability in her life.
“When I first read the script I was on board,” says Garrett. “I loved the premise and I loved Phoebe. I had always wanted to tell stories about love and all that goes with that journey, and this was a great vehicle.”
Phoebe has had her share of interesting storylines, some more complex than others. “I think from the start, Phoebe was searching for the stability within herself,” says Garrett. “The men in her life were just mirroring where she was at.”
In season three, audiences watched as Phoebe tried to settle down into a simpler life with her new husband JD, a struggling artist, while also forming a tight friendship with Gemma, an eccentric and charismatic billionaire. The question on viewers’ minds was, “Will Gemma be the demise of Phoebe’s marriage?”
“JD was an attempt at something solid and it ended up not being the right thing,” says Garrett. “The relationship with Gemma is an interesting one to navigate; she has the qualities of past relationships that Phoebe was attempting to evolve away from.”
With great material to delve in to, the actress loves portraying a character with many layers. “She is such a ray of light and so full of heart,” says Garrett. “There is a naïveté about her that I don’t have, and it was a challenge to let go of my judgment at times. She has a childishness that made me see things with different eyes and taught me to think a little less before I leap.”
In addition to the relationships with the men in their lives, there’s a strong focus on the ones the women have with each other.
“Female friendships are everything,” says Garrett. “In my personal life, my girlfriends are my family; they guide me, level me, raise me up, and catch me when I fall.” That also holds true for the women on the show. “It’s the mirror you have to face on a daily basis,” says the actress.
While Garrett can relate to her character’s close female friendships, she notes some differences. “Phoebe and I both tend to cross personal boundaries and struggle with finding our way,” she says. “But we differ in how we approach love and who we chose to surround ourselves with.”
Although season five has already completed filming, the actress is heading back to Vancouver for a new show she will star in this fall, entitled “The Good Doctor.” “I can’t seem to shake that city,” she jokes.
When she’s not working, Garrett is involved in buildOn, an organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education. “I built a school with them in rural Nepal last year, and recently a second one in Haiti,” she says. “I like getting my hands dirty and immersing myself in a different experience than my own.”
Through buildOn, volunteers work alongside the community for which they’re building a school. To date, they have built more than 1,000 schools in Haiti, Nicaragua, Malawi, Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso. “It is challenging, inspiring, and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined,” says Garrett.
Garrett’s definition of beauty is acceptance; she describes meeting someone for the first time, swapping life stories, and being seen by fresh eyes as a beautiful experience. “I am learning that my personal beauty is deeply rooted in my health, my energy, my strength, and my opportunity to travel and get myself out of the negative energy pool,” she says. “I feel most beautiful when I am in a place surrounded by love, nature, a glass of wine, the people I love, and no mirror.”
If you had asked Marietta Sirleaf (aka Retta) her career goal when she was younger, acting was not the answer you’d get. She was pre-med in college, and it wasn’t until she was working as a contract chemist and studying for the MCATs that her life did a complete 180.
“I was always supposed to be a doctor; it never dawned on me to be an entertainer,” she says. “I had a moment where I thought, ‘You know what, I’m young, I’m not tied down, I don’t have kids, and I’m not bound to this particular place. I should just drive cross-country and see if I can make this acting thing happen.’”
A huge fan of Def Comedy Jam, her favorite performances were from comedians like Warren Hutcherson and Sheryl Underwood. “I first started performing stand-up comedy around the time Chris Rock did his ‘Bring the Pain’ special on HBO, and I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread,” says Retta. “I watched it, studied it, and found new things to love about it every time.”
She started her stand-up career in 1996 while still in North Carolina, and a year later made her way out to LA. Her first TV role was on “Moesha” alongside Brandy and Usher, and she appeared in many other TV shows and films, but it wasn’t until she joined the cast of “Parks and Recreation” that audiences began to take notice.
“I doubt anyone knew me from ‘Moesha’ or ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’ although now when people see those old episodes I’ll get a tweet saying, ‘Hey, I didn’t know you did an episode of Sunny!’ And why would they?” she laughs.
Her character on “Parks and Rec” was a fan favorite, and her character’s catchphrase, “Treat Yo Self,” became a viral sensation. The love fans had for her character is what ultimately led to her role as Barbara on GG2D.
It’s true: GG2D creator Marti Noxon’s young daughter, who was a big fan of “Parks and Rec”—and Retta in particular—asked her mom if she would cast the actress in her show now that “Parks” was no longer on the air.
One thing led to another, and in season two fans met Barbara, who at the time was Abby’s editor at SheShe magazine. A bit gun-shy of men after a divorce that left her broken, Retta says she was excited to play a character completely different from what most people knew her for.
“I like portraying someone coming back from hitting a low point in her life,” she says. “And I like showing how you can feel like you’ve experienced one of the most devastating things in your life and be able to fight your way back to normal.”
Last season, fans were treated to the possibility of Barbara opening her heart to Darrell, played by former “Cosby Show” kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The actress would love to see her character get back to her happy place and experience true joy again. And she loved working with Warner. “He’s so grounded and brings such a sense of clam when he’s on set,” Retta says. “Plus, that deep voice doesn’t hurt; the baritone alone aided in keeping me Zen.”
As someone who loves to entertain, the actress can also envision a career behind the camera. “I think my personality—which borders on control freak—would lend itself to the role of producer,” she says. “I also write and tend to obsess over it; I’ll lock myself away far longer than I like.”
Last year, she directed “Rebel on Ice,” a short documentary for ESPN about French figure skater Surya Bonaly. “I wouldn’t mind directing, but I think my skill set would be best utilized as a producer,” she says.
Whether it’s stepping in front of or behind the camera, Retta says overall she is passionate about good TV. With GG2D wrapped up, the actress can be seen next in “Good Girls,” a new NBC show airing mid-season.
By Alexandra Anastasio
Photography: Gilles Toucas
Stylist: Adena Rohatiner assisted by Jermy Markus
Location: The Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills