The literary side hustle is the new career trajectory for actresses

Molly Ringwald, 80s teen movie princess and now actress on “Riverdale,” has quietly been working a second gig: literary translator. Her English translation of a French novel is coming out this week, reports the Wall Street Journal. “I did it for the challenge and for the intellectual curiosity,” she told the paper.

Ringwald is the author of two other books – a novel and a memoir – but this is her first translation. She has a long history with the French language; the actress attended Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles. After her explosion of fame with “Pretty in Pink” and “The Breakfast Club,” she moved to Paris in her twenties, where she lived for about five years and also acted in several French movies. However, she told the Journal, she doesn’t go so far as to call herself fluent —“fluent is such a big word.”

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She’s not the only actress with a literary side gig. While writing a memoir or a book of advice is de rigueur for many actors once they’re big enough, some other starlets have gotten into the behind-the-scenes side of publishing recently.

Sarah Jessica Parker, of “Sex and the City” fame, has never written a book. But she has been choosing fiction to publish under her imprint with Crown Publishing Group, called SJP for Hogarth. Three books have been published since 2018.

Lena Dunham, creator of “Girls,” dipped her toe into e-publishing in 2015 with the e-mail newsletter Lenny Letter, which featured work from female writers. It ran for three years.  She also wrote a memoir-advice book.

Now, she has an imprint with Random House called Lenny Books, which since 2018 has published two novels, a collection of essays of appreciation about Michelle Obama, and most recently, “Enchantment: A Modern Witches’ Guide to Self-Possession.”

Book publishing is a notoriously fickle business, and it’s always a gamble whether or not a book makes any money or not. But it’s creatively stimulating and adds a veneer of intellectualism to any book-loving actor striving to be more than just an entertainer. It could just be the perfect Hollywood side hustle.

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