When COVID-19 first took grip of the globe early last spring, a close friend of Kate Bosworth’s issued the Hollywood actress a month-long challenge: to meditate every single day. “I wanted to turn inside out because traditionally my strength has not been a quiet mind!” Bosworth tells me over the phone from her home in Los Angeles. Yet, she stuck with it, thanks in large part to 10 Percent Happier — “an app for meditation skeptics,” much like herself, she notes with a laugh.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m thinking of so many different things that I miss the moment,” she continues. “I didn’t realize how much that was happening until I started to really dig into mindfulness.” At the end of that first month, a funny thing happened: The practice had taken root so deeply that now — nearly a year later — it’s still an essential part of her daily routine.
While Bosworth’s inner voice has since mellowed out, even a pandemic hasn’t lessened her output. “Like everyone, I feel the emotional rollercoaster from day to day,” Bosworth says, emphasizing the devastating impact of a disease that has already claimed the lives of over two million people worldwide. (That her parents are over 65 and that her mother suffers from an autoimmune disorder has been a constant source of anxiety.) Ultimately, she continues, the past eleven months have allowed her a chance to channel her creativity in new and even more meaningful ways.
“We couldn’t sit around and watch a year pass by and press pause,” says Bosworth, who has recently adopted a pandemic uniform of super-soft Hardvark t-shirts, her husband’s slouchy Levi jeans, and white Reebok sneakers. “I think that there was an incredible opportunity this year to move inward and a huge opportunity for growth.” True to form, Bosworth—never one to limit the possibility that her self-expression might inspire others—has been sharing that creative process over the last year.
Take, for instance, Kind.est, the website that she launched in April 2020. Inspired by the idea of connection across space and time, she first started imagining how she might do that in her own corner of the internet after losing her grandmother. “I never had the appropriate time set aside for it, but all the sudden I thought, ‘Well, if ever there’s a time, I should really do this now,’” recalls Bosworth.
With this project, the 38-year-old is granting her hundreds of thousands of fans and followers unprecedented and unfiltered access to her innermost thoughts, influences, and inspirations. “I think a lot of people see public figures and they think there must be a team of people behind the curtain, but every word is written by me, every photo is taken from me… It really is self-expression,” she reveals. In other words, don’t expect a Bosworth-branded Goop down the line. “I don’t have a two-year plan,” she admits with a laugh.
For now, she writes about what’s on her mind (and her skin), whether it be a rose-gold highlighter from Westman Atelier; a recipe for chicken piccata, the first meal she cooked for her now 23-year-old stepdaughter, Jasper; or, an interview with Amanda Gorman, which was published five months before the Youth Poet Laureate delivered her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden in January 2021.
“I knew when I met her: This girl is going to change the world — and it’s only a matter of time before everyone else in the world realizes it, too,” Bosworth recalls of her introduction to Gorman at a 2018 dinner organized by Vital Voices, an organization dedicated to advancing female leaders.
“She and I sort of became best friends,” she says with a laugh, before taking a more serious tone. “When I watched her, as everyone else did, just move us all and unite us all [at the inauguration], I was bursting with pride. She’s a deeply knowledgeable human being, but the breadth and the depth of her soul goes far beyong intellect…. She’s here in the world to communicate to us and to help us communicate to ourselves and to communicate to others.”
Much the same could be said about Bosworth herself, who formed Make Pictures Productions with her husband, Michael Polish, four years ago in order to create the kinds of films that may otherwise go unseen. (Nona, the 2017 drama that tells the story of a young Honduran woman sold into human trafficking, was their first movie).
“Imagine the number of scripts and projects that never came to fruition because we don’t have the gender equality or the diversity that we need to be able to tell the stories that are going to connect in a real way with our world,” she explains.
“I purposely wanted to be involved in every stage, so I could say be in these rooms and be more involved in the decision making of the stories that we see and consume.”
It’s a drive that Bosworth perhaps first unearthed while auditioning for her breakout role as Anne Marie, a champion surfer from Hawaii, in the 2002 film, Blue Crush. “It was a defining moment in my career because, understandably, the decision makers behind that movie didn’t see me as believably playing that character because I’d never touched a surfboard in my life,” she remembers, laughing. (A childhood equestrian, Bosworth was perhaps more at home on the set of her very first film, 1998’s Horse Whisperer.) Nevertheless, she was not deterred.
After tracking down a surf instructor in the Yellow Pages, she drove to Malibu every day for four straight weeks, where she spent seven hours a day learning how to master the sport. When the studio executives finally came to watch her, though, Bosworth didn’t catch a single wave. “I fell over and over and over again and I thought, Wow, I really blew that,” she recalls. However, her determination outshone even her worst wipeouts and she landed the role that catapulted the then 18-year-old to global stardom.
“Now, I always say to anyone who asks for advice, ‘Never underestimate tenacity because there’s a lot of talented people in the world, but the willpower of keeping an athletic-like focus on anything that you do, that tenacity will normally be the edge,’” she says.
Most recently, Bosworth has brought that lionhearted tenacity to the forthcoming television series, Bring on the Dancing Horses, which she wrote, financed, and produced alongside Polish, and also stars in. (She last appeared on the small screen in Netflix’s 2019 sci-fi miniseries The I-Land.) Though Polish had initially conceived he show to center around a male contract killer, he had a change of heart early last spring.
“He looked at me and was like, ‘Oh my god, this character would be so much cooler if it would be you as a woman. What am I even thinking?!’ It was such a lightbulb moment for him,” recalls Bosworth. In the role, she exacts her own brand of justice as she crosses people off of her list with an unnerving calm — not unlike a female Clint Eastwood (albeit with a much glowier complexion).
“We thought, ‘What would happen if we took the western genre, which is predominantly male led, [as our starting point]?’” Bosworth says of the production, which was shot this past fall in a quarantine bubble in the backwoods of Montana. It was a fitting project for the couple, who spend half the year at their lakeside ranch in Bigfork. (They also celebrated their wedding at the Ranch at Rock Creek.)
“There’s a lot of innate western qualities in both him and me,” she explains. “We really thrive on breaking boundaries, [asking] ‘What’s just beyond? What’s out there?’ I think that’s so much of what connects us deeply ‘cause you have someone who’s saying, ‘Let’s take that leap.”
Though Bosworth and Polish are still searching for buyers for the ten-episode series, in their minds, the choice to explore this new frontier has already paid off. “It was beautiful and inspiring and electric,” Bosworth notes of the two-month-long filming experience, which was the first production on which many of the show’s actors and crew worked all year. “It was like this beautiful coming together of why we all love to do what we do, which is to create.”
Bosworth muses, “Sometimes it does take something very challenging and tragic to distill the purity of one’s love for something or for someone — and I think the pandemic has done that in many, many different ways.”
Of course, Bosworth has long known that she’d devote her life to acting. “From a young age, I was like, ‘I want to move out to LA and I want to try to do this thing,” she recalls of her childhood ambitions, which were, she continues, unlike those of other kids in her hometown of Cohasset, a small town outside of Boston. Even so, she did make it to — and make it in — LA, but not without her share of hardships.
“Because I’m an only child… there has always been this kind of familiarity with loneliness…,” she reveals. “I was very shy and a little bit embarrassed to be honest and say, ‘I need help. I don’t know what I’m doing’… Now, being on the other side of that, it’s like, no, you have to ask for help.”
That initial fear of turning to others is why she now dedicates much of her time to proactively mentoring young actors and those looking to break into the movie industry. In 2018, she and Polish founded Montana Institute of the Arts, a non-profit art school, for budding filmmakers; a year later, she launched the “She Directed” campaign to provide opportunities for female filmmakers.
Now, she has a message for other women: “You are not supposed to know everything….You only know what you know, and that is okay. You have to lean on people who you can trust and who you can really gain insight and stability from.” Yet, even with two decades of experience under her belt, at times she still grapples with taking her own advice.
“To expose myself, to say, ‘Wow, I am really struggling,’ or, ‘Wow, I’m confused,’ still hits me in a deeply uncomfortable way,” she admits.
It’s in these moments, though, that Bosworth comes face to face with her strength. She says, “It takes a hell of a lot of courage to be vulnerable. One cannot exist without the other, and I love that. Every time I think, ‘Man, I’m about to write an article, or play a role, or produce a project where I feel really vulnerable,’ I always think, ‘The possibilities on the other side of that are so amazing.’”
In a way, that’s the beauty of Bosworth’s enduring pioneer spirit. Her vulnerability, passion, and dynamism push her forward into the great unknown, while her example inspires and makes the journey that much easier for the rest of us.
Photographer: Sasha Samsonova
Photo Assistant: Ashley Rose
Photo Assistant: Gabriella Talassazan
Stylist: Petra Flannery
Stylist Assistant: Lauren Mock
Hair: Bridget Brager
Makeup: Pati Dubroff
Manicurist: Thuy Nguyen
Producer: Cynthia Hadden
Production Assistant: Travis Wethers
Video Director: Curtis Taylor Jr
DOP: Alex Ford
Sound Tech: Christopher Hernandez
Photographer Director: Ian Crane
EIC: David Thielebeule