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Soleil Moon Frye brings back Christmas spirit, 'Punky Power'

By
Fred Topel
Soleil Moon Frye (C) says her daughters give to charity over the holidays. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Soleil Moon Frye (C) says her daughters give to charity over the holidays. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Soleil Moon Frye will bring her '80s childhood sitcom character Punky Brewster back in a reboot for NBC's streaming service, The Peacock. She also brings a little "Punky Power" to her new Lifetime Christmas movie, Staging Christmas.

In Staging Christmas, Frye plays Lori, a home stager who dresses up everybody's Christmas setting for the holidays except her own. Frye said she could relate to Lori.

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"So often, we think about everybody but ourselves," Frye told UPI. "Sometimes, I'll think of the rest of the crew and forget to do things for myself. Now, I'm trying to be better about it because I feel like even if I go and have dinner with some girlfriends or have that time with them, it literally replenishes my soul for the next week. So I'm working on doing more self-care."

Frye never neglects her own Christmas, though. She carefully stages her family's Christmas decorations.

"I am so crazy with the reindeers," Frye said. "I want the reindeers that are made out of twigs. I'm a cuckoo bananas person because I'm so obsessed with the aesthetic of it all."

The holidays aren't only for celebrating with family. The 43-year-old said her daughters --11-year-old Jagger Joseph Blue and 14-year-old Poet Sienna Rose -- love to give back. Her younger sons -- 3-year-old Story and 5-year-old Lyric Sonny Roads -- are heading in that direction, too.

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"At the holidays, they love to give to others and do work with the homeless," Frye said. "So they're conscious. It's not just about getting presents and stuff like that. They like giving more than receiving, and I'm really happy that that's who they are."

In addition to homelessness efforts, Frye is on the board of CORE: Community Organized Relief Effort, founded by Sean Penn to provide disaster relief. Frye also works with Baby2Baby, which provides diapers, clothing and necessities to children living in poverty.

Another lifelong cause for Frye has been the dream of bringing Punky Brewster back. Frye played the orphan who Henry Warnimont (George Gaynes) took in as his foster daughter.

"For years, I've always loved the idea of bringing Punky back, even before there were so many shows being rebooted," Frye said. "She always embodied all of the elements of a survivor and so much spunk and 'Punky Power' and all these incredible elements."

The new series catches up with Punky (Frye) as an adult with a career when she meets another young girl who reminds her of herself. The actress already has been rehearsing on the Universal lot, which is a new location from the original sitcom that filmed at NBC's studios in Burbank.

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"Literally, it's a dream," Frye said. "Every day that I'm on set and at the Universal backlot, I just keep pinching myself. I'm so excited and happy and I just have so much gratitude for it."

Now, Frye is gearing up to film the new Punky Brewster in front of an audience.

"Oh my goodness, 175 people live audience, this is so crazy to me. It's just such an exciting time," she said.

Punky Brewster brought positivity to serious issues like foster care, child abuse and CPR. When she returns in 2020, she'll bring Punky Power to the modern world.

"I think it's important for kids to not just live in a bubble, but to learn about what's really going on in the world," Frye said. "I think Punky was able to teach a lot of people, but also to connect to people who were going through it.

"I think she connected to people who were going through the foster system, who were dealing with homes that were broken and all of that in such a meaningful way."

Punky Brewster has been off the air for 30 years, but Frye still feels pressure to live up to the original series.

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"I think for us, as a team, it has been really important to keep the heart of Punky Brewster," Frye said. "So I look at it as such a unique bringing back, and yet I know that we really need to do justice to it. It deserves us to bring it back in a truly genuine way."

The Peacock is set to launch in 2020. Staging Christmas airs Friday on Lifetime.

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