'I had a conversation with Amy Poehler and an unexpected moment filled me with jealousy.'

Once upon a time, if you had asked me what's the one thing I would choose to talk to Amy Poehler about, I never would have answered 'Tic Tacs'.

Hardly a surprising sentiment of course, because who would sit across from a beloved actress, comedian, and author, and decide that tiny white mints with the power to crack open a tooth once unleashed from their small plastic container would be the optimum choice of conversation?

But you would be wrong.

As I prepared to walk into the room containing Amy Poehler, to talk about her new movie Inside Out 2, I was realistic about what was waiting for me on the other side of the door.

Years of sitting across from people whose faces were splashed across TV or movie screens ensured I had no lofty expectations of the woman I was about to meet. The woman known as a Saturday Night Live breakout performer, the star of everyone's favourite comfort show Parks and Recreationone-half of the world's best awards show presenting duo with Tina Fey, a movie star and the author of Yes Please, the memoir I had devoured (in a strange twist of fate) many years ago while sitting in the tiny park opposite the lush hotel room where she was waiting for me.

This is the ever-so-slight downside of coming into contact with people whose work you so intensely and lovingly consume. You become used to viewing them only in their most glittering and well-crafted moments, through the thoughts and words they have spent hours poring over and perfecting. You are the 20th (if you're lucky) person that day who has encountered them and expected to walk away with An Experience. So it's in no way surprising that real-life humans often cannot live up to the untouchable pop culture characters we've become accustomed to in our minds.


After she had walked the purple carpet at an Inside Out 2 premiere event at the Sydney Opera House the night before, by the time I sidled into the room the next afternoon, I was Amy's last interview of a long day. So I wouldn't have judged her if she had greeted me with only a slight smile and a nod as I quickly made my way to the chair in front of her, like a peasant begging for an audience with a benevolent yet busy queen.

Instead, she stood up, shook my hand, smiled, and said she hoped I hadn't been waiting too long. All before proceeding to open a container of Tic Tacs sitting beside her, pop one in her mouth, and begin to quiz me on both their substance and origin story.

A test I never would have thought to study for.

Did I think they have a slightly vanilla aftertaste or nothing at all? (I had to confess the thought had never crossed my mind.) Did I know they had in fact originated in Italy? (I did not, but it felt like a trivia answer I should store away for future use.) And lastly, would I like to invest in her upcoming Tic Tac business? ("It does sound like you need some help," I offered up, to which she replied with her signature cackle.)

A tiny moment of conversation I will forever think of as the Amy Poehler method of putting someone at ease.

Amy Poehler in Sydney, explaining the origin of Tic Tacs. Image: Supplied. 


"When we came here for the first film, no one really knew what to expect," Amy said, talking about the 2015 Australian press tour for Inside Out. "It was so hard to explain what it was all about. We had to say to people that we'd made this movie about the voices inside your head and all the emotions are played by these little creatures, and it's called Inside Out.

"It was strange but now it feels special."

Disney and Pixar's Inside Out told the story of a young girl called Riley, taking audiences inside her mind where her emotions — Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger, and Joy (voiced by Poehler) — are faced with some intense changes. Inside Out 2 picks up the story when Riley is 13 years old and a range of new emotions, including Envy, Embarrassment, Ennui, and Anxiety, suddenly appear in her mind.


"Young women often have their feelings dismissed," Amy said, referencing why she wanted the movie to dissect the emotions of teenage girls in a humourous yet nuanced way. "The things they are interested in are seen as trivial and fleeting. When in fact the feelings they have are very high stakes and are shared by everyone. The only thing you can expect in life is that things are going to change.

"Friends are super important when you're younger because it's your way of separating yourself from your family of origin," she continued, touching on the importance of both Riley's friendship circle in the film and the friends we connect with in our own lives. "So I love that Pixar never panders and never makes fun of what young people are feeling. It's the opposite of gaslighting, to really embrace and try to understand anxiety and what everyone is feeling.

"And to know that it's not just young people who feel like this."

Amy Poehler voices Joy in Inside Out 2. Image: Pixar/Disney


Watching a series of intense new emotions rush through the mind of a now 13-year-old Riley in Inside Out 2 can elicit a particularly visceral reaction from adults who settle down to watch this film.

For so many people, including myself, it often feels as if the shape of our lives could be changed for the better if we could only go back in time and whisper advice in the ears of our younger selves.

To be frank, the things I would hiss at my younger self to change if given the chance would easily fill the small notebook plastered with Sarah Michelle Geller stickers that I used to carry around school.

Think ahead.

Work harder.

Take more chances.


Be less frivolous with your time.

And don't bleach your own hair at home with the stuff your friend found tucked away in her older sister's bathroom, thinking you'll look like Gwen Stefani when in reality you end up looking like the Wish version of Draco Malfoy.

After reading the pages of Amy's memoir in which she chronicles some of her early years, I expected her to have a similar response to the question of what she would tell her 13-year-old self.

She wrote about her dreams and insecurities, about deciding that her currency would be being funny and smart rather than 'pretty', and followed these sentiments up with pieces of life advice peppered in amongst her career memories. 

Yet her answer went a different way.

"I was 13 years old in 1984 and it was a great time to be 13," she replied. "It was all dancing to 'Thriller' and Prince. 

"I've actually thought a lot about this and what I would tell my 13-year-old self if I could, but I don't think I would want to change a thing about her, I'd just say, 'You're doing great and also maybe invest in Apple.'

"When it comes to my life and my past, I think I would stay very hands-off," she continued. "All because I wouldn't want to change anything about myself and who I am now, bad or good. How you grow up really shapes your belief system and who you are.

"So when it comes to my 13-year-old self, I'd really just want to stay out of her way."

There are many reasons to be envious of a person like Amy Poehler.


There is the fame, the career highs, and the wealth they have brought her way, the travel, and the public adoration I had seen the day before with my own eyes.

But in this particular moment, I felt an unexpected pang of jealousy towards her flair up within my chest. All due to the fact that she could look back at her younger self and not wish to erase parts of the person she used to be.

It seems an unattainable yet peaceful way to go about your life, and not a feeling that could be chased away by money or even fame (although I'm sure they certainly help).

Ayo Edebiri might voice Envy in Inside Out 2, but in that moment I was turning in a brilliant performance to be considered as her understudy.

"In the movie, Joy thinks like I do, like all parents sometimes do, and believes there is a way to avoid pain for yourself and your loved ones," Amy concluded our talk, sharing her biggest takeaway from the film.

"But you can never really do that. The pain will always get you in the end so you just have to move through it to get past it.

"That's the main thing you learn as you get older."

Inside Out 2 is in cinemas now.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here for more entertainment news and recommendations.

Feature image: Getty.