Leslie Bibb has spent her lifetime surrounded by self-assured females and will proudly tell you that it’s made her exactly who she is today — a tough cookie unafraid to say what’s what.
“I have a really strong group of girlfriends and I grew up with all women,” Bibb explains. “I have three sisters and my dad died when I was a kid, so I was pretty much raised in a ‘chicken coop.’ I love women! Yes, we’re flawed. Yes, we’re emotional. But I love to talk about feelings!”
The actress — who got her big break on The WB’s Ryan Murphy-helmed teen soap Popular — even attended an all-girl Catholic high school, though it didn’t exempt her from the typical teen-year horrors, which she’ll happily discuss as well. “High school is awful,” Bibb affirms. “It’s an awful time … you’re just trying to keep your head above water.”
It’s a total package that makes the 37-year-old Bibb a shoo-in for her starring role as Amanda Vaughn, fallen former high-school queen bee, in ABC’s much-hyped hourlong dramedy GCB, which premieres March 4.
After Amanda’s big-man-on-campus husband dies while in the carnal company of her best friend, the uber-humbled widow returns with her two kids to her mother’s home in an exclusive Dallas enclave — and quickly discovers that the girls she tormented as a teen have grown into wealthy women with excellent memories and the firm belief that Jesus is the leader of their no-less-savage clique. Hence the show’s original title, Good Christian Bitches — culled from the book on which creator Robert Harling (Steel Magnolias) based the series and promptly taken to task by assorted conservative outlets long before details or screeners of the actual show were even released.
“I wanted to say to the people who were really getting pissed off about it — the religious groups and FOX News and so forth — ‘You don’t even have all the information right about it!’” Bibb exclaims. “And the real irony is they’re perpetuating exactly what we’re talking about! They’re completely missing the irony of the title. We’re not calling Christians bitches; we’re saying, ‘Hey, walk the walk and talk the talk! Be accountable for your actions; be accountable for your words.’”
It’s a message that Bibb takes seriously since she admits that she’d have a tough time returning to her own youth, her own mama’s home — or even imagining herself as a mom in real life. “I played a mom in Talladega Nights, but I was kind of a terrible mother, which I thought was funny,” Bibb says. “Me being a mother makes me laugh. I’m the mother of my dog. That’s about it. … But Amanda Vaughn is a very strong, tenacious woman and that came from her mother, Gigi [Annie Potts, Harling’s own high-school classmate, whose character he based on Potts’ late mother].
“But I make her accountable for her stuff, too,” Bibb continues. “I don’t want to be judged for what I have. I mean, I work at a boobie bar — and there are good people at the boobie bar. So in a weird way, Amanda’s evolution as a woman who has been out of this [culture] is sort of a mirror for Gigi — ‘Hey, you look in the mirror. You need to be better, too.’ I think everyone [on the show] is a reflection of what we all need to work on in life.”
GCB airs Sunday nights on ABC beginning March 4