Mandy Moore is not the same cheeky pop star she once was. When I first catch a glimpse of her from across the room at the Eveleigh Restaurant in Los Angeles, Moore is smiling, radiating joy as she chats with members of her team before we are set to enjoy a Friendsgiving meal together hosted by American Express Blue Cash Everyday. She exudes confidence, grace, and a casual likeability from the moment she introduces herself.
I’m seated at a table decorated with metallic-dipped pumpkins, twine-wrapped menus, and earthy centerpieces when Moore makes her way over to say hello. Despite her celebrity, speaking with her does not feel any different than catching up with an old friend. She is full of relatable anecdotes about the delay of her home remodel, holiday co-hosting plans with her future in-laws, and serious contemplation about the “rollercoaster” that is life. The This Is Us star is an open book when it comes to the arduous journey that led her to the grounded place she feels she’s reached now.
Here’s her take on how the last 18 years of her career has brought her the confidence and security we could all use a little more of.
I feel really grateful and present and aware of where I am in my life right now.
Moore’s recent engagement to musician Taylor Goldsmith of the band Dawes made headlines, thanks to the couple’s unusual introduction (they met on Instagram), but their holiday plans couldn’t sound more normal. “She’s handling the turkey, truthfully handling all the hard stuff,” Moore shares about her plans to co-host Thanksgiving with her future mother-in-law.
Though it turns out her favorite part of the holiday isn’t the turkey or the pie, but the time taken to reflect and share what she’s most grateful for. “I feel like it’s just a really great way to take stock of how fortunate we all are in every respect and there’s just not enough of that in real life,” she says. As for what she’s most grateful for this year, it’s the fact that she’s made it to where she is today. “I feel really grateful and present and aware of where I am in my life right now,” she says after careful contemplation.
Oh yeah, and the wildly successful actress seriously enjoys her work. “I have a job I fucking love,” she says playfully. (If we got to play Milo Ventimiglia’s wife, we’d feel that way about work, too).
When it comes to her real-life romance, Moore seems to be over the moon about her fiancé and their upcoming nuptials. “I want it to feel like an elevated house party,” she says when describing her wedding day. It won’t be the lavish affair many dream of, and there won’t be a white dress. “Taylor and I were talking, and I was like I would feel so uncomfortable saying my vows in front of like 100 people. I just, I wouldn’t have it in me,” she admits.
Moore hints that she will probably have a small wedding at home, and music will be the center of attention, not her. “Music is really important to both of us, so I want there to be a music component to it. I want my man to play,” she says with a grin.
Moore’s backyard wedding plans hinge on the completion of her new home in Pasadena, California, which is still in an extended renovating process. She admits it’s been difficult to get settled. “I feel like we’ve been treading water. My stuff has been in storage for like two and a half years at this point,” she says, still in disbelief herself over how long it’s been since she’s been able to unpack records and cook in a kitchen that feels like her own.
No matter where Moore and her fiancé are living, it’s clear that the space is filled with love (and music). “I live with a constant stream of music in my house. I feel very lucky. I just walk into beautiful songs being written all the time. It’s really romantic—I’m floored by how talented he is.”
I’m not a wine girl. I don’t know anything, but I try to pretend like I’m sophisticated.
No talk of hosting during the holidays would be complete without the topic of wine coming up. When it comes to hosting large Friendsgiving events with family and friends filtering in and out throughout the day, “there’s nothing a glass of wine can’t fix,” Moore says with a big laugh. For her, that glass is probably red and sparkling. “I’m really into Lambrusco right now. I’m not a wine girl. I don’t know anything, but I try to pretend like I’m sophisticated,” she says.
She explained that the real trick to making a holiday party go smoothly isn’t the wine—it’s the ability to find yourself in conversations with people you may not know well instead of clinging to your core group, a skill Moore surely has mastered. Her warm personality makes you feel like you could talk to her forever—no wine needed.
On What's Next
Moore seems pretty certain about where her life is headed in the near future. With a new house and marriage to look forward to, she’s thinking about making music again. As for a collaboration with her future hubby, she hints that they’re planning to think about creating music together during an upcoming hiatus this spring.
She seems incredibly optimistic about what the future holds. “I love myself so much more—or I care way less than I did in my 20s,” she says with a tone that makes me certain it wasn’t an easy road for her to get here. “For all of us, there is a real rollercoaster and a real ebb and flow to the way things unfold,” Moore says knowingly. As for now, she’s going to bed early, drinking “a ton” of water, hiking, and going to therapy. “I’m feeling connected and grounded.”
For more on Mandy Moore, head to our beauty vertical Byrdie for an exclusive interview with the actress.