Already have an account?
Get back to the

Former Child Star Jenny Lewis Has ‘No Regrets’ About Leaving Acting Behind to Pursue a Music Career (Exclusive)

Former Child Star Jenny Lewis Has No Regrets About Leaving Acting Behind to Pursue a Music Career
Jenny Lewis Bobbi Rich

Jenny Lewis was one of Hollywood’s most beloved young actresses in the ’80s and ’90s, but she left it all behind to pursue music — and hasn’t looked back since.

In an exclusive interview with Us Weekly to promote her upcoming Joy’All Ball tour, Lewis, 48, dished on having the courage to follow her dreams. “I retired from acting when I was 19. [Acting] was something that was more of the family business rather than my choice,” the “Psychos” singer explained. “Music is my choice — and something I pursued because I’m totally passionate about it.”

Lewis, who appeared in countless titles including The Wizard and Life With Lucy, looks back at her time in showbiz fondly. “It was wonderful and it was also very challenging,” she said. “I met some interesting people along the way.”

Related: ‘Troop Beverly Hills’ Cast: Where Are They Now?

“For the most part, everyone was great. I had a hundred mentors, including Lucille Ball, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Shelley Long,” Lewis continued. “Then I had all of these men who played my father. My dad left when I was a kid — I didn’t know my dad — so I had all these proxy dads that I got to learn from, David Strathairn and Griffin Dunne and all of these amazing people, and that informed me as an artist.”

Former Child Star Jenny Lewis Has No Regrets About Leaving Acting Behind to Pursue a Music Career
Jenny Lewis Bobbi Rich

Of course, there was a dark side to Hollywood that Lewis was lucky enough to avoid. “Watching the Nickelodeon documentary [Quiet on Set] [was] horrifying, and that stuff was going on too,” she told Us. “I was fortunate in that I was somehow shielded from some of that stuff, but I was certainly around a lot of those people.”

Lewis crossed paths with one of the people featured Quiet on Set, although she didn’t name names. “I was definitely in the room with one of the guys who’s in that documentary, who went to prison,” she explained. “It was a dangerous environment if you didn’t have someone looking out for you. Luckily, I had all of these sparkly, amazing people who really cared about me and really believed in me.”

Related: Every Nickelodeon Star Who Has Reacted to Explosive 'Quiet on Set' Doc

For those who grew up in the ’90s, Lewis is most recognizable for her role as Hannah Nefler in Troop Beverly Hills. “As with all of those memories from that time, they’re a little bit patchy,” the musician explained of the 1989 family comedy, noting she no longer speaks to the cast, but remembers Long, who played her character’s mother Phyllis, as being “great.”

Former Child Star Jenny Lewis Has No Regrets About Leaving Acting Behind to Pursue a Music Career
Jenny Lewis Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

One of Lewis’ most distinct memories from that time involves being on the soundstage at Universal Studios. “The interiors of the mansion that [the characters] lived in, they were all on the soundstage, and when they would film on one, the other would go dark,” she explained. “So I would go into the Nefler bedroom and do handstands up against the wall. That’s what you did when you were 12.”

As longtime fans know, Lewis’ post-acting career includes founding Rilo Kiley, playing in multiple bands, including The Postal Service, and embarking on a solo career. On June 18, she’ll head back on the road for the Joy’All Ball tour, where she’ll make stops in Lexington, Birmingham and more.

Former Child Star Jenny Lewis Has No Regrets About Leaving Acting Behind to Pursue a Music Career
Jenny Lewis Bobbi Rich

“You really sacrifice a lot of relationships along the way because you’re just out in the world, or even the relationship with your own garden — I never get to see my peonies bloom,” she explained of being a working musician. “There are a lot of things that you prioritize [like] your tours. You make a commitment sometimes a year in advance and show up for that commitment, life aside. That can be challenging, but ultimately, worth it, if you’re a road dog.”

Related: Musicians Who Became Actors: Jack Harlow, Jennifer Lopez and More

“Through all the ups and downs,” Lewis continued, “[music] has been what I want to do the most.”

With such a well-rounded career, it’s hard to narrow down her proudest moment — but one sticks out in particular. “Leaving my career as an actor behind at 19, because no one advised me to do that,” she shared. “Everyone was upset with me and said I would regret it.”

Former Child Star Jenny Lewis Has No Regrets About Leaving Acting Behind to Pursue a Music Career
Jenny Lewis Bobbi Rich

“No regrets. I just feel so proud of that kid who made this choice to pursue art and poetry,” the “Puppy and a Truck” singer told Us. “Honestly, my only regret is getting rid of my ’64 Malibu.”

Still, that doesn’t mean Lewis, who is working on a screenplay, is opposed to returning to the film industry. “I’m open,” she shared. “If something came up that was cool, I’d definitely consider it.”

Tickets for the Joy’All Ball Tour are available now.

In this article

Got a Tip form close button
Got a tip for US?
We're All Ears for Celebrity Buzz!