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Sarah Jessica Parker

From Manhattan to the World

Sarah Jessica Parker is an award-winning actress and producer. She was catapulted to global stardom after starring as sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw in the hit TV show Sex and the City, a character who has since been recognised as one of the greatest female characters in American TV history. Since 2005, Parker has run her own production company, Pretty Matches, creating content for HBO among other channels.

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Early life

Sarah Jessica Parker was born on the 25th of March 1965 in Nelsonville, Ohio. She is the fourth of eight children from both her parents’ marriage and her mother’s second marriage, and her childhood was a far cry from the life of luxury she lives nowadays. During her childhood, her parents struggled to support such a large family, and there were times when their electricity would be cut off, or when they would have to forgo Christmas and birthday celebrations due to their being unable to afford them.

When Parker was 3 years old, her parents divorced, and her mother later remarried to Paul Forste. From a young age, Parker helped to support her family, making money through singing and dancing gigs, which she would then bring home to her family. Despite not coming from a wealthy background, Sarah has said she wouldn’t change any of it for anything, commenting that her mother made efforts to immerse the children in cultural activities, often taking them to free ballet and theatre shows in Cincinnati to give them a rich and full childhood.

Acting

Aged 11, in 1976, Sarah was cast in her first Broadway role in a revival of The Innocents, and at this point her family moved to New Jersey in order to get her specialised training. As her career progressed, she and four of her siblings appeared in a production of The Sound of Music, spending time over the next few years touring. Parker's big break came when she was selected to take on the title role of Annie on Broadway in 1979, after having spent two years in the smaller role of July. She played the role for a year, before her career really started to take off in the early 1980s.

1982 saw Parker gain the lead role in CBS sitcom Square Pegs, which despite only lasting one season, saw her performance be acclaimed by critics who loved her performance in the show. The show paved the way for further success, and in the years that followed, Parker was cast in four films, including Footloose in 1984, Girls Just Want to Have Fun in 1985, and Flight of the Navigator, a Disney sci-fi film, in 1986.

Alongside her film roles, Sarah’s career remained steady with constant work in TV. In the early 1990s, she made the jump from teen to adult roles, starring alongside Steve Martin in 1991’s L.A. Story, which laid the groundwork for further significant film roles in the years that followed. 1992 saw her star as Nicolas Cage’s fiancée in Honeymoon in Vegas, which earned her credibility among critics and fans alike. She then played one of the main characters in Disney’s Hocus Pocus in 1993, as well as acting as a police diver alongside Bruce Willis in Striking Distance that same year. It seemed that her career was continuously on the up, and in 1994, Parker took on a role alongside Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s biographical drama, Ed Wood.

Meanwhile, Parker was continuing to develop her career on stage, starring in plays including Sylvia and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, alongside future husband Matthew Broderick. She earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her role in Sylvia, testament to the positive reaction her work was provoking in the critical space.

1996 was a film-heavy year for Parker, who starred in 5 films that year, among them The Sunshine Boys along with Woody Allen, of whom she was a big fan, The First Wives Club, which was a huge commercial and critical success, and Mars Attacks!, another Tim Burton film.

Her real big break came in 1998, when she was cast as Manhattan sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw in HBO’s new show, Sex and the City, a show following the lives of four friends who are inseparable despite their completely different lifestyles. The show was an instant success the world over, and it was the break that Sarah had spent all these years working towards. Initially, Sarah had had doubts about joining a long-term TV series, but it turned out to be just what she needed to take her career to the next level.
Parker won two Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards for her performance as Carrie, testament to how well-loved she was by fans and critics alike. In the years since the show’s end in 2004, Carrie Bradshaw has been recognised as one of the greatest female characters in the history of American TV, and in 2009, The Guardian named the character as an icon of the decade.

In the years that followed the end of Sex and the City, Parker took on a number of film roles. Her role in The Family Stone in 2005 earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress (Comedy), and the film was a huge commercial success. 2005 also saw her start her own production company, Pretty Matches, which has seen her release a number of independent films, as well as shows for HBO and other channels. Pretty Matches was founded by Parker and Alison Benson, and has the aim of increasing female representation in media and production work through its projects.

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For years after the end of the Sex and the City series, rumours circulated about a film version being released, and in 2008, fans’ dreams became a reality with the release of Sex and the City: The Movie. Despite not receiving rave reviews from critics, the success of the film among fans led to a sequel being commissioned, and in 2010, Sex and the City 2 was released to great commercial success.

It was in Sex and the City: The Movie that Carrie wore the iconic Vivienne Westwood bridal dress to appear on the cover of US Vogue prior to her wedding to Mr Big - the one where he didn’t show up, sadly. The strapless gown featured ivory silk satin and ivory silk Radzimir tafetta, and was absolutely stunning. In 2018, Westwood designed piece for her Spring/Summer collection which were inspired by Carrie’s dress, and for a limited time they displayed the original Carrie dress at the Vivienne Westwood flagship boutique in NYC.

In 2009, Parker starred alongside Hugh Grant in Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which was a moderate commercial success, though it earned Sarah a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress and did not receive much positive feedback in critical circles. She received a further Razzie nomination for Worst Actress for her performance in Sex and the City 2, as well as for roles in 2011’s I Don’t Know How She Does It and New Year’s Eve, though Parker was not put off by these nominations as she continued to blaze a trail in the worlds of film and TV in years to come.

In 2012, SJP made her first return to TV since the end of Sex and the City, playing Isabelle Wright, Kurt’s mentor at Vogue, in three episodes of the hit FOX show, Glee. In 2013, she voiced a character in animated film Escape from Planet Earth, as well as playing Gloria Steinem in deleted scenes of the biographical drama Lovelace. 2015 saw her star in indie romcom All Roads Lead to Rome, playing an American journalist visiting Italy with her rebellious daughter.

In 2016, Parker became the executive producer and star of HBO dramedy series, Divorce. Running for three seasons, the series was acclaimed by critics, wiping away the negative nominations she had received at the Razzie Awards a few years earlier. She received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the show, showing that Sarah Jessica Parker was well and truly back, and that she was here to stay.

In 2018, Sarah produced and starred in independent drama Here and Now, in which she plays a New York City singer who receives a life-changing medical diagnosis. In February 2020, Parker and her now-husband Matthew Broderick starred in a revival of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, with the show originally being scheduled to make its full debut in April 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was pushed back to March 2021, and now the show is expected to run through July 2021.

In January 2021, it was confirmed that a reboot of Sex and the City the series will be airing on HBO Max in the not-too-distant-future, which was met with widespread excitement among devoted fans of the show. The reboot is set to be a 10-episode limited series, and Parker will star alongside co-stars Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis. Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha Jones in the original series, will not be returning.

Fashion

Parker's role as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City made her a global fashion icon with huge commercial appeal. In 2000, hosting the MTV Movie Awards, she changed into fourteen different outfits throughout the show. In August 2003, she signed a lucrative deal with Garnier as the spokesperson of their Nutrisse hair products.

In 2004, Parker signed a $38 million deal with Gap, which was the first multi-season contract in the company’s history, with Sarah due to appear in their fall adverts and continue into spring of 2005. The adverts faced a lot of criticism as many people didn’t think Carrie Bradshaw’s glamorous fashionista persona was in keeping with Gap’s image, which had always stayed away from high-end fashion. Despite the criticism, the adverts were a success, with Parker giving the company a new, fresh face.

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In 2004 Parker was also elected as the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Icon of the Year, a huge accolade for her in the fashion world.

2005 saw the launch of Sarah’s first perfume, Lovely, and following its success, she released Covet in 2007. Since then, she has released a number of other fragrances, all of which are sold through her company SJP Beauty.

In March 2007, Parker launched a fashion line, Bitten, in partnership with Steve & Barry’s, a discount clothing chain. The line was launched exclusively in Steve & Barry’s stores and featured a range of clothing items and accessories which all cost under $20, in an effort to appeal to the masses through Sarah’s huge commercial credibility.

In 2014, SJP started the SJP Collection, her very own footwear line, which is sold at Nordstrom. The collection has enjoyed great success and continues to be sold to date. She has also launched a bridal shoes collection, featuring satin bridal pumps in classic shades of cream and white, as well as more non-traditional colours, including a royal blue which resembles the gorgeous pair Carrie received from Mr. Big for the big day.

In June 2015, Parker was announced as the latest spokesmodel for Jordache Jeans, a brand known for its designer jeans which were popular in the 70s and 80s. In April 2018, Sarah partnered with Gilt, launching a ready-to-wear bridal range for modern non-traditional brides, which was met with huge excitement among fans of her fashion.

Her status as fashion icon is very much cemented after so many years in the industry, and we can be sure that the revival of Sex and the City will bring with it many more iconic looks which will be lusted over by fashion fans all around the world.

Personal life

From 1984 to 1991, Sarah was in a relationship with Robert Downey Jr. During this time, he was struggling with a drug problem, which put huge strain on their relationship, and ultimately, they broke up. She then briefly dated John F. Kennedy Jr.

Since 1997, she has been married to Matthew Broderick, who she has starred in some stage performances with over the years. On her wedding day, Sarah opted for a ruffled black dress, in stark contrast to the gorgeous Vivienne Westwood gown that her character Carrie wore to get married in Sex and the City. She says she chose a black dress so that she didn’t attract attention, but now she says the only thing she would change about her wedding was the fact she didn’t opt for a white dress!

The couple has three children, a boy, James, who was born in 2002, and twin daughters, Marion and Tabitha, who were born via surrogate in 2009.

Parker and Broderick have lived with their children in Greenwich Village for over a decade now. The family also has a second home in County Donegal in Ireland, where Broderick spent a lot of his childhood summers.

Broderick himself has also had several successful roles, including as the title character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and as the voice of Simba in Disney’s The Lion King. He is currently starring alongside Sarah in a revival of Plaza Suite, scheduled to run through July 2021.