Welcome to E!'s Tales From the Top, our series on women who are leaders in their fields and masters of their craft. Spanning industries and experiences, these powerhouse women answer all the questions you've ever had about how they got to where they are today—and what they overcame to get there. Read along as they bring their resumés to life.
Rachel Bilson's got big summer plans.
The O.C. star is expanding inner circle to listeners everywhere with her new podcast Broad Ideas. , which she's co-hosting with her best friend of 25 years, Olivia Allen. Guests like Kristen Bell, Mandy Moore and Zooey Deschanel will be stopping by to chat about a range of broad topics, including sex, infidelity, mental health and so much more. Think of it as weekly audio happy hour with your girlfriends, free of filters or fake niceties, as Bilson told E! News she's holding nothing back in the series.
"I'm a little more unhinged, but it's nice to be able to feel free with it," the 40-year-old admitted with a laugh. "Authentic is the better word and I think people are craving it more than ever."
The actress previously reunited with her co-star Melinda Clarke for their popular rewatch podcast, Welcome to the OC, Bitches! But Bilson is ready to get even more personal with Broad Ideas, opening up about her life as a single mom to her 7-year-old daughter, Briar Rose Christensen, with former partner Hayden Christensen.
"Being a 40-year-old woman and a mother, I feel like I've come into my own and these things should be talked about," she explained. "It shouldn't be taboo or we should be able to get detailed and you shouldn't be embarrassed. For me, it took a lot to come into that."
Bilson hopes to provide a "safe space" for others to also experience the support system she has to offer.
"True friends don't judge and it's that safe space that you crave, that you might find in therapy," she said. "It's just having these soul sisters that you can go through everything with that have been there through everything and will never judge you. It just felt like my best friends and I are always having these conversations, why not make that the norm?"
She opened up to E! News about her future plans for Broad Ideas, the lessons she's learned throughout her career and why she's finally done being a people pleaser:
E! News: How did you come up with the name Broad Ideas for the podcast?
Rachel Bilson: I'm a huge fan of puns and plays on words, so a couple of broads with some very broad ideas!
E! News: What is it like to have an open and honest conversation with your friend, but to do it on-mic when you know a lot of people will eventually be listening to it?
RB: I don't get nervous before I start, but definitely after I go through the overthinking, over-obsessing, like, "Oh, gosh, what did I say? Is this going to be out there?" But the beautiful thing about this is I have the power to edit! You know, because there's definitely things where I want this to be as open and candid as possible. It's really amazing to have that authentic approach and being able to talk about anything as women or anyone, for that matter. But there are times where I gotta reel it in a little bit.
E! News: What is your favorite thing about your best friend and co-host Olivia Allen?
RB: We talk on the phone every day and we will get into these conversations where we'll talk about, "What's your favorite Starburst color?" And we'll get into an in-depth conversation about Starburst colors and we know what each other's is gonna be because we've been friends for 25 years. There's nothing left uncovered and so just doing this, I wanted to bring her along on this ride. She also offers a really amazing perspective because she's gone a different route with spiritual psychology—and she's been sober for 11 years and has all these other life things, so bringing us together from both sides of it has been amazing. Like Sex and the City says, your best friends are your soul mates. So what's better than that, to go through it together and to just be that open and create the support system?
E! News: You've had some great guests so far, including Mandy Moore and Kristen Bell. How did you pitch it to them?
RB: Kristen and I have been friends for like 18 years and she's just the best human on the planet. So when I asked her, she didn't even have to know what it was. She was like, "I'm there." She's that kind of person and friend, which is amazing. And Mandy, we've always known each other but I reached out to her and I was like, "Look, my best friend and I are starting this podcast. We look up to you so much as a woman, as a person. We would love for you to sit down and talk with us." There's no one nicer on the planet, so she was like, "Absolutely." It's so nice that people were willing and responded so positively because these are all women that I respect.
E! News: In the second episode, you talk about being a people-pleaser when you were younger. Has that changed for you?
RB: It's for sure evolved because you get older and you're like, "Wait a minute. I know what I want. I know what I'm after. I know that this person might not like this, but you have to be true to yourself." And as a mother, I'm setting an example for a little girl so that comes into play. Because you're like, "No, you have to be true." If she's having an issue with a friend at school, it's like, "No, no, you do what you want to do. You don't have to listen to this other person. You don't have to be doing something that makes you uncomfortable just because you don't want to say no." So all of these things came together at this point in my life and to be able to speak up for yourself and do what you want to do is a huge lesson and something that I will preach till I'm dead.
E! News: Is there a time in your career that you stood your ground and were really proud of yourself?
RB: I've always been hardcore against nudity and I actually stuck to it. I thought it was going to lose this role—and it's probably one of my most favorite projects I ever did—because I wouldn't get naked. But I stuck to it and I still got to do it and there wasn't nudity. I was really proud of myself because it was probably the role I'm most proud of. In the moment when we were shooting the scene, I was like, "Ehhh, you could show my boobs," but no, I stuck to it. (Editor's note: Bilson revealed in a 2020 interview with Playboy that she refused to appear nude in The Last Kiss.)
E! News: Is there a particular quality you've had throughout your career that has carried over into motherhood?
RB: Throughout my career, being a mom always comes first and I will choose jobs or things according to her. It has nothing to do with me because it's what I've wanted my whole life. There's certain projects I've done that she won't see until she's, like, 40. But every decision I make in my life is with her as my first thought. Before that, I just did things that I really wanted to do and felt proud of and that's still to this day, so it feels good.
E! News: Are you envisioning a second season of Broad Ideas?
RB: Well, it's definitely experimental...we're wanting to see how it does, but it would be great if it could live on and grow and be this community where people can come for authenticity and real conversations and real topics. one of our best friends is coming on and the topic is infidelity, so I'm really proud of that one. It's just another experience and it's a really interesting conversation. I hope people enjoy themselves and can relate to things and want to keep coming back. Talking with your best friends, we do it anyway, so to be able to do it on this platform, we would love to continue doing it.
E! News: If you were to pick one thing that you hope you're able to teach or instill in your daughter, what would it be?
RB: Just to be proud of yourself and be happy in life because what else is there? You should enjoy this time on this earth.
E! News: What advice would you give to your younger self?
RB: Oh man, so much. I was so young. It's important to do your job, do it well and it's not your business what other people think of you. You can get caught up in certain things especially at a young age and, luckily, we were before the Instagram era, but you just have to be proud of everything you do.
Broad Ideas is available wherever you listen to podcasts.