British TV personality and journalist Dawn O'Porter may be 35 and expecting her first child, but she admits she still acts a lot like a teenager. "I did this program for TLC last year in the U.K. where I'd spy on teenagers with their parents," she says. "The parents would say they were going away for the weekend, and then we would spy on them. The whole time, I wanted to say, 'Just let them have a messy room and sleep in! That's what we do!' And I realized I was saying that as one of them."
O'Porter is releasing a new young adult novel this month and the story of two unlikely best friends is so right on that it's generating a lot of pre-release buzz. The book is about two high schoolers, Flo and Renee. Flo is the timid one, not brave enough to stand up to her Regina George-esque frenemy. She also has quite serious problems at home. Renee is the classic boy-obsessed party girl. After her mother dies, she and her younger sister move in with their stoic grandparents. When Flo's father dies, the two form an unlikely bond.
"You go through so much when you're a teen, but you don't have the emotional capacity that you do when you're an adult," O'Porter says. The book captures that when you're a teen the big things are a big deal of course, but the little things, like boys and embarrassing moments, are a big deal too.
Much of Renee's character was taken from O'Porter's own life. Like the character, her mother died when she was seven and she was sent to live with her grandparents. Her own teen diaries were a big resource for the book. "[My diary] was full of stories about boys. It was like, so-and-so was mean to me, I was mean to so-and-so, everyone hates me, I hate everyone, I love boys," she reminisces. "I smoked my first joint. I got really drunk for the first time. It was all so basic, but it reminded me how overwhelming everything felt because you don't have experience under your belt to put it all in perspective."
O'Porter and her husband actor Chris O'Dowd ("Bridesmaids," "Girls") recently announced they were expecting a child of their own by posting a video of O'Dowd doing the ice-bucket challenge and then nominating "baby O'Porter," followed by his wife dumping a glass of water on her pregnant belly. But even with babies on the brain, O'Porter says the book hasn't changed her views of parenthood just yet. "I'm so many years away from even dealing with a teenager that it's not even on my radar," she says. "Fundamentally I'm still a teenager, but obviously that's about to change."
Dawn O'Porter dishes on her teen favorites from the '90s:
Her favorite band: "The Spice Girls! I was absolutely obsessed. I'm actually friends with Sporty Spice now. It's crazy."
On her style: "It was the '90s. I don't want to be held accountable for what I looked like. It was so, so bad. It was too much makeup, terrible hair and Doc Marten boots."
Her celebrity crush: "I was obsessed with Face from The A Team. It was to the point where I didn't even see myself not marrying him. I just loved him."
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