2021 has been a big year for Molly Bernard, and we’re only 7 months in. She’s said goodbye to her beloved character, Lauren Heller, on the hit TV series Younger and embarked on a new era in her career, which would appear to be paved with celebrated indie successes like new drama Milkwater and upcoming Amazon thriller Master.
She’s also the latest face of iconic Australian monogrammed accessories purveyor, The Daily Edited (or TDE for short). To celebrate, GRAZIA sat down with the talented Bernard (and TDE’s co-founder Alyce Tran) to chat about her love for Australia, running lines with bestie Hilary Duff in an Airbnb and saying goodbye to Younger for the last time.
GRAZIA: How did this collaboration with The Daily Edited come about?
Alyce Tran: We met when Molly DMed The Daily Edited on Instagram. I was so excited to send her the product because we had had a difficult first half of 2020 and we were just beginning to reinvest again in shoots and marketing. So when we were looking to work with someone, I was like, ‘Molly, how would you feel about being The Daily Edited’s campaign face?’ And she said yes, introduced me to her manager and here we are. It was really exciting, because TDE is one of the only Australian brands to actually work with international talent recently.
Molly Bernard: I just DMed TDE thinking like ‘Oh, I love your stuff, and I want to share it with my friends and family and the weirdos that follow me’. I mean, when I say weirdos, they’re fabulous people but I’m weird – and so I feel like people that follow me understand my brand of weird. My aesthetic is like an adult French toddler, so I love monogram everything. I’m so thrilled that I met you Alyce, because The Daily Edited is such a unique brand and we met in earnest. Your products are amazing and I just feel like more companies need to be female-led and have that kind of generosity and honesty with the world. I feel so blessed to collaborate with you and to be the face of this amazing Australian brand – it makes me so happy!
AT: Obviously, the honour is reciprocated. I do think we are in this wave of direct-to-consumer brands and so many are now female-led, so it’s nice to be able to support and build each other up in that space.
GRAZIA: You definitely didn’t take the easy route, with TDE’s team based in Australia and Molly in New York. How did the shoot come together?
AT: I was game enough to do it because a lot of our contacts are in the US. So ordinarily, putting together a shoot in New York is pretty easy but obviously, by this time last year, a lot of people had left, including photographers that we’d normally work with. But we were lucky that one person, Chloe Brinklow, was able to help get this off the ground and there was a nice chemistry between Molly and Chloe. We trusted the team so it was very exciting to be able to pull that off relatively easily.
GRAZIA: What was it like to shoot again for you, Molly?
MB: I had just wrapped Younger – my last day ever was two or three days before this shoot. I had never been a brand ambassador and shot a campaign before, so I was thrilled and honoured and nervous and excited. Chloe was a doll and Alyce came on at the beginning of the day, which would have been about 5am her time, just to say hi. That was also the first time we had seen and met each other! It was such an intimate shoot, just Chloe, the photographer, my hair and makeup artist and myself. Oh, and my dog Henry was there so we ended up using him in the pictures too.
AT: We started working on a dog bag for Henry that has a mattress in it. Essentially, the bag folds out into a bed.
GRAZIA: That sounds like something we all desperately need.
MB: Right? There are no good, fashionable petite pet carriers. Henry’s only eight pounds so I just resort to putting him in a tote bag because that’s the right size and it’s easier, but it doesn’t have all of the accoutrements. And I love that I just reached out via email shamelessly to Alyce like, ‘Should we collaborate on a dog bed?’.
AT: I mean, it was a very detailed email! I shared Molly’s hectically detailed emails with The Daily Edited’s product designer, who was like, ‘Okay, I can work with this’.
GRAZIA: Molly, apart from the impending dog carrier, what are your favourite TDE products?
MB: There are so many! The one I use every single day is obviously my laptop case, my phone case, my headphones case. My sweet partner then knows that my belongings are mine, because sometimes we get things mixed up. I use the makeup bags every day but my very, very favourite thing is the petite travel jewellery case. I just shot a film where my character wears no jewellery, so I brought my little case and it carries all of my little Molly items and it says my little name on it. I know it probably came from the Greenwich Village store but I’m like, ‘this is my sweet gift from Alyce’. All of The Daily Edited products are great gifts, too. They make me smile – I don’t know how inanimate objects can can do that, but they do.
GRAZIA: Tell us about your new film, Milkwater.
MB: My team and I are working on getting it available in Australia! Milkwater is an indie movie that I did. I play a millennial who’s really suffering and lost and kind of flailing. She meets this older gay man at a bar and kind of impulsively offers to be his surrogate. Her name is Milo and the film chronicles her journey – can she handle the boundaries of what becomes a legal contract and how difficult it is to start queer families? I’m so proud of the film because it’s so different than what I do on Younger. All the cast members of Younger love our fan base in Australia [because] it’s extremely strong – so I’m trying to work with my team to make sure we can get it out in Australia, because I saw it’s not available here yet.
GRAZIA: As Younger ends, how does it feel to lose that character after such a long time?
MB: It’s a hugely bittersweet moment that is filled with a lot of heartache and you know, some joy, because it’s been seven years. I’m so excited, I have no idea what the next long term project or series might be. But, you know, I was 25 when I first started playing [Lauren], I had just graduated from the Yale School of Drama, it was my first big job. I kind of like fell into it, I was just supposed to be a six-line guest star in the pilot! And then like a breath later, it’s seven years and now we’ve wrapped this series. So I’m still processing it.
It’s been one of the great gifts of my life being on a sleeper hit show that has such a good heart and that is so beloved. It’s rare. Also, in the era of streaming, it’s a triumph that we were able to do a show for seven seasons, it’s like I’m pinching myself every day. I can’t believe it’s been seven years because I was like, dating men when I first started making this show and had long, like down-to-my-butt red hair. I do not know who that person is anymore. That’s interesting.
GRAZIA: Do you think that the character of Lauren helped you to think about different facets of your own identity?
MB: Absolutely. I think the writers infused my bloodstream with her. You know, she occupies such a big scope and size and her confidence is remarkable. It’s rare on TV that you see a really healthy, happy, queer person represented. So yeah, I think, you know, I had no qualms with coming out when I realised I was in love with a woman. And I think it’s because Lauren had no issue with coming out and I had been playing her for five years at that point. So it was like, ‘Oh, well, now I’m in love with a woman’. Natural.
GRAZIA: What will you miss most about Lauren?
MB: Not not to be a broken record, but I will miss her confidence. I will miss playing someone so empowered, who has respect for herself and it’s not a story of struggle. I think women who love themselves unconditionally don’t really exist on television. And taking up that space was like one of the prized gifts of my life.
AT: Lauren is the strongest character on that show. And for me to watch you in the final season, it’s been so good.
MB: I know, it’s so amazing. The writers really took her on a journey and the finale was a perfect play.
AT: And the outfits went to another level!
MB: Yes! Jacqueline Demeterio is a brilliant costume designer, she’s such a storyteller. I feel like the secret weapon of the show is that we have two extra characters in it that aren’t actors – it’s the fashion and New York City. They’re like characters and you want to eat them with your eyes. I think Jackie is so smart that she paid homage to Diana [Trout], like infusing Lauren with these purely Diana moments of diva brilliance. I couldn’t have done that as an actress without the help of the costumes lifting me up.
GRAZIA: Has that influenced your own personal style?
MB: Unfortunately, yes [laughs]. Being on Younger has ruined my bank account! Lauren’s closet is like Miu Miu and Sandro, knitted and fitted. The clothes on that show have changed my life. When I got hired I didn’t know how to dress but Jackie and Patricia Field were like, ‘go small and puffy with feathers and big, bright colours’, and I was like ‘okay, yeah, I’m down’ so I guess that’s me now. I like to incorporate my own Molly spin, like I love black and white. I love neutrals, but I have to wear a red clog if I’m wearing an all neutral outfit.
GRAZIA: You also embrace some adventurous makeup looks, was that influenced by the show too?
MB: Thank you, that’s so nice. I got really into Lucy Boynton, as the world did, and I started sharing it with my makeup artist Jacqueline Fundus. I would always like show her a fun picture, like ‘let’s try this’ or she’d be like, ‘I want to do a purple colour wash and like let’s do glitter’. So I think the great thing with all of the creatives on Younger was that they all loved Lauren, whether it’s the makeup people, the hair people, the producers, the writers – everyone knows that there are no rules with Lauren. There are rules with other characters on the show, but Lauren was everyone’s vehicle for wildness and expression.
GRAZIA: Your hair has really evolved over the years too.
MB: It has! After season one, the Younger producers reached out to me and they wanted me to change my hair. I had really long brown hair and we tried Jane Birkin bangs. Then they were like, ‘Well, do you want to do some kind of colour?’ And I’ve kind of always wanted to be a cherry red, so they made her a feisty redhead.
GRAZIA: How do you look after it?
MB: My colourist is a genius. She just blends my roots with a reddish toner that goes on after bleach, it’s kind of great. I’m loving the idea that I don’t have to be completely blonde, that I can be like a little bit of a ginger and have my roots.
GRAZIA: What would we find in your handbag on any given day?
MB: Let’s see – my TDE headphones, my TDE phone case. I’m doing Invisalign, so I have my Invisalign case, which my partner calls my dentures. Hand sanitiser, lipstick, a mask. I’ve also got another Aussie brand, this Go-To lip balm– it came up in my Instagram algorithm and I bought it. Australia is killing it!
AT: It’s so great to see.
GRAZIA: Finally Molly, what’s next for you?
MB: I recently just wrapped a film with Regina Hall called Master for Amazon and it’s a bit dark, a bit spooky. I’m so excited but I can’t really talk so much about it. But what I’ve said, I’m allowed to say.
GRAZIA: A big departure from Lauren, to say the least.
MB: Oh my gosh, very different, so I’m thrilled about that. But actually, I have to tell you – this is for the diehard fans out there, I haven’t even talked about this yet. My audition for Master, Hilary [Duff, Bernard’s former Younger co-star] read it with me. We did a self-tape the day before her wedding in a little Airbnb that she rented. I officiated her wedding, and it was the day of her rehearsal. I was like, ‘I just got this audition. I really like it. Do you mind throwing this on tape with me?’ And she said yeah, and we just sat down, put it on tape. She was like, ‘great. I think you’re gonna get this part. You’re great’.
AT: Oh, that’s so great. I’ve loved Hilary since Lizzie McGuire.
GRAZIA: Same. I saw her in a Chanel boutique in Los Angeles once and I had a meltdown.
MB: I still sometimes see her and have meltdowns. I’m like, ‘so perfect. So good. Such a good mum’. She is an incredibly genuine person and she’s so good to her fans. There is not a time that we are walking on the street where she will not stop and go out of her way to make sure whoever or whatever person is asking for her attention. I love my girl.
GRAZIA: Bumping into the both of you together would be a lot to take in.
MB: Some people do have meltdowns, and I’ve been like, ‘hey, do you need to hug? You’re gonna be okay!’ [laughs].