In 1984, a half-hour comedy series called Punky Brewster aired on NBC for the first time. Despite the series only lasting four seasons, fans fell in love with the extra sassy (and clever) orphan at the center of the show. In real life that girl was Soleil Moon Frye, who was 12 years old when the show ended and she left her screen persona’s mismatched footwear behind forever.
While Frye is undoubtedly best known for her role as the precocious Punky, the actor has since added author, entrepreneur, wife, mommy, TV host, and more to her impressive résumé. So the odds are good the former child star has pinged your radar over the last two decades, whether you realized it or not. Curious about how Frye has been filling her days since Punky roamed the streets of Chicago? Keep reading!
She suffered from gigantomastia
By the time Punky Brewster ended, Frye was 12 years old and headed toward her teenage years. But puberty took a dramatic turn for Frye who, by 15, developed a 38-DD bust-line on her tiny 5’1″ frame. According to Frye, boys often teased her, coming up with the nickname “Punky Boobster.” (Real clever, boys.) She also struggled with back pain from her large bust, along with tender shoulders from bra friction. Upon being diagnosed with gigantomastia, Frye ultimately decided to get a breast reduction at age 15.
“It was scary,” she told People of the decision. “It was a time when I was confronting my fears about becoming a woman. I needed to be sure that I was doing this for myself — not for producers or boyfriends or my family. It takes a lot of courage.” The operation went well, leaving Frye with a new 36-C bust-line and a renewed sense of confidence.
She married producer Jason Goldberg in 1998
Frye dated a few other fellow ’90s teen icons in the years following Punky Brewster, most notably Terminator‘s Eddie Furlong and rapper-slash-actor Mark Wahlberg (known back then as Marky Mark, naturally). However, when Frye was studying film at New York’s The New School, she made a career move that would lead to marriage.
It all started when she pitched producer Jason Goldberg a script. The two met and the rest, as they say, is history. They wed on Oct. 25, 1998 in Los Angeles, California. Ten years later, in 2008, they renewed their vows in their Hollywood Hills home on their anniversary. In 2017, Frye celebrated their nearly two decades of wedded bliss with a sweet shout-out to her hubby on Instagram.
She has four kiddos
In May of 2016, Frye and Goldberg rounded out their beautiful family with a fourth child when son Story was born. Of his unique name, Frye told People, “We are a family of unique names. I loved having a name that was different as a kid.” And she’s not kidding about the unique names part — she and Goldberg’s other children are daughters Poet Sienna Rose and Jagger Joseph Blue, along with son Lyric Sonny Roads. The names have a synchronicity about them, too. “We started with our Poet and now our Story feels complete,” the creative mom explained.
Demi Moore was her birth coach
As the mother of four kids, Frye knows a thing or two about giving birth. But, if you ask her, there’s someone else who’s even better during the pressure of delivery — and Frye wouldn’t want to do childbirth without this lady by her side. Who’s this birthing guru? None other than Demi Moore.
“I figure having three kids, she knows a thing or two, so I said, ‘You’re gonna be there with me, right?'” Frye told Parenting, adding that while Frye was giving birth, Moore “massaged my legs and was amazing; she must have been a midwife in a past life.” Frye and Moore became fast friends when Moore’s then-husband, Ashton Kutcher, partnered with Frye’s husband to create the production company Katalyst Films.
She has penned two books
From child star to raising her own children, Frye has clearly picked up a few pertinent parenting insights along the way. So, in 2011, she decided to write what she knows in her first book, Happy Chaos: From Punky to Parenting and My Perfectly Imperfect Adventures in Between. She followed that up with a second book, Let’s Get This Party Started: DIY Celebrations for You and Your Kids to Create Together.
Of her inspiration for the latter, Frye told Parade, “My girls and I love having get togethers. Our house is like a summer camp, everyone comes over and plays there, and we love the whole celebration. We love the kids being a part of it, so this book is really where you can find everything you need to throw a great party.”
She hosted Home Made Simple on the Oprah Winfrey Network
A spin-off of the lifestyle website Home Made Simple, the show by the same name originally debuted on the TLC network. It moved to the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2009, and that’s when Frye got involved — she hosted the third season of the big-hearted series, which was nominated for an Emmy for best daytime lifestyle program.
“You know, it’s a show that gives back to others, and I love the idea of giving back and paying it forward,” she told Mingle Media TV of her involvement, “and these are people that are giving so much to their communities. And so it’s been an honor to be a part of, and I’m so grateful for the journey.”
She had a cameo on Friends as Joey’s punchy girlfriend
In the ’90s and early 2000s, it was a sure sign a celebrity’s ship had come in if they showed up on an episode of the hit sitcom Friends. As for Frye, her pop culture icon status landed her a guest arc on the NBC series as a girlfriend of Joey’s named Katie. The problem with Katie? She couldn’t keep her hands to herself, and not in a fun way. Rather, she had a habit of punching Joey (and, in this scene, Rachel) in a light-hearted but not light-fisted manner.
Although her stint wasn’t terribly long-lasting — for the sake of Joey’s arms, obviously — Frye remembers the role fondly. Years later, while playing a game of “This or That” with Nutrisystem, Frye was asked whether she would choose Ross or Chandler from Friends. “Well, I dated Joey on the show, so I gotta say Joey,” she replied.
She has lent her voice to several animated series
If you ever stumbled into watching Bratz (raise your hand if you have a young daughter!), you may have been struck by a strange familiarity in the voice of Jade. This especially makes sense if you are a millennial who grew up in the era of Punky Brewster, because Frye is Jade.
Over the years, the actor-author-mompreneur has lent her voice to several popular animated series. In addition to Bratz, Frye voiced The Proud Family‘s Zoey, Planet Sheen‘s Aseefa, and multiple characters on the Adult Swim series Robot Chicken.
She co-owns an eco-friendly children’s boutique
After having children, Frye — like most mothers — felt the maternal pull of protectiveness take over. Out of that feeling was born the idea to create a green living boutique offering eco-friendly and organic toys and clothing for kids.
“Of course, after becoming a mother and having my own baby, I felt that all of a sudden, my eyes were open to the world for the first time,” Frye told Child Mode. “My business partner Paige [Goldberg Tolmach] and I had new children and we really wanted to create a safe haven for our babies.” The pair sourced eco-friendly and non-toxic products from around the globe in order to launch The Little Seed in 2007.
She hangs with a famous bunch of friends
Punky Brewster always seemed like the kind of kid you just wanted to be your BFF. As it turns out, Punky’s real-life alter-ego Frye is apparently equally as effervescent and charming. We already know Demi Moore kept her company in the delivery room and a cursory glance at Frye’s Instagram feed reveals a wealth of other celebrity besties. A few of the star’s famous friends include Rebecca Gayheart, Rosetta and Balthazar Getty, Selma Blair, and Melissa Joan Hart to name a few!
She co-starred with BFF Melissa Joan Hart in Sabrina the Teenage Witch
The bond between Frye and one of her celebrity besties, Melissa Joan Hart, was solidified on the job. Suffice it to say, the connection between the two proved — ahem — magical on the set of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. In the popular teen series, Hart played the title character and Frye starred as Sabrina’s friend Roxie King.
When the entire cast reunited in October 2017, Frye echoed her co-stars’ sentiment that they would all eagerly do an OG Sabrina reboot if they still owned the rights. “I think we all in the world need some magic right now,” Frye told Entertainment Tonight. The original cast was decidedly less enthused about the upcoming “dark coming-of-age” reboot by the producers of the millennial series Riverdale.
She’s an active philanthropist
When she isn’t busy writing books, raising four awesome kids, or making onscreen cameos, Frye devotes a generous chunk of her spare time to charitable work. One of her main passions has been helping to rebuild Haiti in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake in 2010. She has personally visited the area to aid in rebuilding efforts and raise awareness, sharing photos of her life-changing trips on social media.
She also volunteers with the organization A Sense of Home, explaining in an Instagram post, “When the world is feeling so fragile, it was great to spend the morning and afternoon with @asenseofhomeorg. They help make aged-out foster youth’s first permanent living space feel like HOME.”
She enjoys a partnership with Nutrisystem
By looking at the snapshots Frye shares on social media, it’s easy to see the star feels confident these days and during an interview with E! News, she revealed that her longtime partnership with Nutrisystem deserves some of the credit.
“I have been feeling really great this summer with my family,” she said of losing the baby weight after son Story’s birth. “I love having the energy to paddle board with the kids, go tubing, and hiking. I also feel comfortable throwing on a bathing suit and jean shorts. I used to find myself hiding my body. I was the person on the beach with baggy surf shorts and a long sleeve shirt. It feels good to be comfortable in my skin.”
Frye also shared a self-esteem-filled photo of herself on Facebook that her daughter Jagger snapped. “I’ve been pulling out old clothes in my closet, including jeans. It’s a great feeling! Thanks Nutrisystem for helping me feel so great!” she captioned the pic.
She’s considered a Punky reboot starring her daughter
With reboots popping up non-stop (see aforementioned Sabrina series), it seems like only a matter of time before Punky Brewster makes a comeback. Not only is Frye down with the idea of Punky re-imagined, but she also has a specific idea about who would be perfect for the part.
“My daughter, who is 9, thinks that she is Punky Brewster,” Frye said of her lookalike little girl, Jagger. “I look at my little Punky in my daughter, and I’m like, you want to do it? Sure I’d be totally into it. She loves it.”
Frye further revealed to Yahoo‘s #Obsessed that Jagger will “come downstairs and say, ‘Mommy, look at me!’ and she has two different-colored shoes on and everything.” Hey, TV producers — someone jump on this idea, stat!