Dee Wallace: teacher, life coach, radio talk show host, letter-writer-to-all-life-changing-events, and most notably, quintessential cinematic mom, and of late, grandmother, of the large and small screen alike! Appearing in everything from Cujo, to her current role on Just Add Magic, which recently premiered on Amazon Prime, to a recent January 27 episode of Supernatural wherein she plays a “sexy senior citizen that comes on to one of the boys,” and most notably Elliott’s mom in E.T., she is now on a mission to re-parent us all with a new toy she hopes will heal the world in the form of the adorable BuppaLaPaloo Bear (Buppa for short)! With pre-programmed phrases embedded within a strategically placed voice box Buppa utters affirmations such as “I love my body” “I am so powerful” “I love myself” “I am a gift to the world” and many, many more! An additional noted feature encompasses that of a mini recorder in the event that you would like to pre-program your own mantras in your very own voice…or someone else’s should you not have warmed up to how you sound yet in recordings. But that should come with time. Buppa is here to help!
Having worked with the likes of the Centers for Spiritual Living and First Five, Wallace is on a mission to catch kids while they’re young, in order to assist in raising them the way in which she was raised, the manner in which she brought up her daughter and aspires to raise anyone she can reach!
Her life story leading up to such touching inventor status is as varied and colorful as the bear and all the enlightening phrases he utters. I caught up with Ms. Wallace at Jerry’s Deli in Woodland Hills for brunch in a conversation that was as scintillating as it was illuminating!
What inspired this bear?
My life inspired the [bear]… All the components of my life came together in Buppa. I’ve been passionately interested in children’s self esteem since I had my daughter and because I’m a licensed high school teacher, and I’ve taught acting, and I’ve had my own dance class… I’ve just been a teacher all my life… I’m [also] an intuitive life coach…[and have been] for over 20 years. So it occurred to me that there was this common thread [of dysfunction] that was going through everything. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and when I finally realized that it was the lack of…love we have for ourselves [I recognized] across the board, every session I had done, every student I taught was just like myself: incredibly challenged, to say, ‘Yes I’m special. Yes I’m awesome, yes I’m amazing!’ Because from the time we can understand anything, we’re taught not to do that. It’s selfish, and self righteous. But ultimately, the day we can all get up and look in the mirror and go, ‘Hi, you’re amazing and I love you and you’re just full of love,’ nobody’s going to want to go join Isis. I can guarantee it. So once I got clear about that, [I thought] ‘Gosh, what’s one of the easiest ways I can get this out into the world?’ And we all know we have to start with the kids. So then I got into all this brain study and how the brain was created and was floored to find out that how we see ourselves in the world, and how we see the world seeing us, is all in place by around 18 months old!
Wow indeed! And that’s before we even have language to be able to define why we think the way we do or feel the way we do because it’s all energetic. We’re picking up energy from as early as the womb: Whether we’re wanted, whether we’re special, whether people take time for us, if the world values us… The brain’s pretty much completed by the time we’re 4 to 7 years old. So if we’re really going to instill a core of self love and create the brain synapses to support that, we’ve got to do it early. [But] the beautiful thing about Buppa is that whether you’re a child, or whether you’re dealing with the child within you, those children and brain synapses can be encouraged and programmed toward the positive or re-encouraged and programmed toward the positive… So this helps adults as much as it helps kids. I have a woman… [who] got [the bear] for her granddaughter, and then she got one for herself, and then her husband asked if he could have one!
Wow! So you’re saying it’s all because of positive affirmation that it helps you reverse or reprogram your mind?
Well yes, [but] it’s more than positive affirmation. The trick with affirmations is combining the feeling and the belief. I was on a treadmill for a year going, ‘I’m a happy, successful, working actress,’ and nothing changed but my butt because I didn’t believe it! So the trick of really shifting or creating something in the first place is if you connect it to a really strong emotional experience. So in the case of Buppa, you’ve got a bonding object which all psychologists will tell you is incredibly important for a child.
Right! The bonding object! And he’s so cute!
Thank you. Isn’t he? And he’s furry and he’s soft and…
And he’s chubby…
…chubby we made him chubby on purpose! [But] it combines fun and play which is a positive reinforcement emotion. It is repetition which you need to create any kind of brain synapse or pattern. You want to change something in your life it takes repetition. It also incorporates strong first person statements. Some people call those affirmations, but it’s one thing for your mother to go, ‘Oh honey you know I love your body,’ it’s a whole other thing for you to say, ‘I love my body.’ Because usually if we don’t believe something, and the world mirrors to us what we want to believe, but we don’t believe it, we negate it right away. We, as adults, have to turn around that automatic negation. As children if we can instill this in them while their brains are still developing, then when the bully comes up on the playground, [to tell them they’re ‘less than’] they have a core within themselves that they can turn around and go, ‘No. I’m not. I’m special and I love who I am!’ But if they don’t have that then they defer to whatever that thread is.
What got you into studying the mind?
I wanted to understand how all this works. I wanted to understand why we go into reaction instead of creation and choice… That’s where ‘Ask and you receive’ comes from. You ask and the Universe goes ‘Oh well, here’s somebody who wants to do a webinar with you and she’s a brain expert.’ And you read through her material and think, ‘Okay wait a minute, this is really in line with what I want to do here!’
So you’ve been an intuitive life coach for over 20 years. How did that start?
The decisive moment was when my husband died at 55 and I fell to my knees and said, ‘I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want to be pissed off. I don’t want to be a victim,’ and my key words were, ‘I want a way we can heal ourselves,’ and instantaneously, the first thing I head was, ‘Heal the light within you to heal yourself,’ or ‘Use the light within you to heal yourself!’ I believe that we are on this plane to learn how to direct energy and create from energy. The energy, the creative force, the force since Star Wars is out…whatever you want to call it, is there to create with us as our partner, anything we want, without judgment, positive or negative… So it’s up to us to be incredibly conscious about what we want to create… But how are you going to use that [light] if you don’t know you have it and how are you going to use it if you haven’t been given permission to claim how special and incredible you are? …[Otherwise] you’re a victim in this world.
So from there, how did you manifest being a life coach?
It was all created in my acting studio. Most of my healing work was developed in my acting studio.
Yeah and so literally I started channeling information for my actors and during the scenes and we just all explored it together it was…it was like Camelot in that studio.
Oh okay. And what kinds of exercises do you do?—if you can say…
I’m not teaching acting anymore. Although I’m doing a Master Class on February 20th at Spirit Works because I just went to Australia and did a film called Red Christmas, which I had a ball doing, and while I was there, a couple of people that I knew from L.A. said, ‘Oh please teach a couple of acting classes while you’re here!’ I do anything and everything to get them out of their head, to open their heart and get them to act from their instinct. And when I teach acting I always combine the healing [aspect of] it.
Act from their instinct, okay. That’s always a good way to do it.
Well for me it’s the only way. It’s the technique that I was trained in with Charles Conrad… He taught it since the 80s…in New York. I studied with him out here.
Okay. It seems like it’s been an ongoing education for you. You just never stop learning and you’re always working and you’re always acting in some capacity…
I’m always looking for the truth. Oh that’s a total obsession.
So go over your life from your childhood until you wrote the pivotal letter to that Broadway producer that would change your life forever!
Yes, I think that’s one of the things that the bear allows us to do. If you have that core value within yourself, when it comes to writing letters you go, ‘Well what do I have to lose? They can only say “no!”’ …So I grew up in Kansas, very poor household, raised mostly by my grandmother ‘cause my mom had to work. Dad was a drunk and ended up committing suicide. We were extremely poor. But the other side of it was that I had a really strong mother and grandmother who had a very strong faith. Everybody in my family, as much as they had to work secretarial jobs [etc…, was] very creative. My mom was my first acting teacher, my first mentor. She’s the reason I became an actress… From the time I was very little, I was modeling, and taking ballet lessons which my mom bartered her services so I could [attend]. Then I worked my way through college and became a school teacher… and it’s while I was teaching high school that I wrote my letter to Hal Prince [who put a notice in the paper that he was looking for fresh new faces for a new Broadway musical] in New York.
And then you were on a plane the next week! That’s so crazy!
Yeah, pretty much!
So then you did the Broadway show?
No, I didn’t do the Broadway show. But I got down to the last five girls.
But it got you out there; got you out to New York.
It got me out there. I made a lot of contacts; got a lot of teachers from meeting the girls there. Went to a Halloween party with a boy I met at an open call. He was with some of the biggest agents in New York, commercially; met them at the party they loved me. They took me on and I had about five dollars left to my name when I booked my first national commercial! I was saved by the bell!
So then how did you make the jump from living in New York doing commercials and acting jobs in New York to the big Hollywood scene out here?
Well I was a dancer, so I did industrials to make extra money and I got this industrial for Oldsmobile [on] which we stopped in a lot of places across the country and ended up in L.A. and I saw a guy who had been a friend of mine in my acting class in New York and he said, ‘Oh my God Dee you should come out here! You’d do so well out here.’ I had been in New York for two years and I had done a lot of commercials but that’s ultimately not what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing… There was a big joke going on at the time: The actor from New York and the actor from L.A. meet in the Midwest and say [to each other] ‘Go back…go back! There’s no work!’ But being the naïve Kansas me that I was, [I decided to go to L.A. and] a girlfriend let me…stay with her for two weeks ‘til I could find a place to live and the guy that told me to come out said, ‘Look, you hook me up with your commercial agent and I’ll get you an interview with my theatrical agent.’ So my agent signed him and his agent signed me, and another guy that had been in my acting class got me an audition for Streets of San Francisco. It was like an ‘under five’ part about this hooker who gets murdered and…I didn’t have to audition for it because [of my friend’s recommendation]. So I went up and did that. Then I baked a lot of chocolate chip cookies to try and get on to the lots… They wouldn’t let you on [otherwise] but they let delivery people on. So I just wrapped up a lot of chocolate chip cookies and said, ‘I have deliveries for [everyone]!’ ‘Oh yeah, yeah, go right up there!’ So I would take my chocolate chip cookies around, and I got to (casting director) Reuben Cannon’s office and he happened to come out while I was standing there and he went, ‘Oh chocolate chip cookies, my favorite!’ And I said, ‘Hi! I’m Dee Wallace, I just got here from Kansas,’ because Kansas always worked better than New York and he looked at me and he went, ‘Oh I’ve got a few minutes. Come on in!’ So, as I was sitting there talking to him, they called from the set of Lucas Tanner (it was an episodic TV series in the mid-70s) and he looked up at me and he said, ‘What size do you wear?’ and I said, ‘What size do you need?’ So I stuffed myself into this size 4 costume to play this waitress. Again it was like 5-6 lines, but that gave me two really good credits. And then I auditioned for this religious film and I got the lead in it. It was a real tour de force role. So I went through and invited ten agents and I paid for the screening room myself. Nine of those agents offered to take me on and I was sort of on my way then.
And you would have gotten notice that you got cast in E.T. in ’81?
Yeah, it came out in ’82. But you know there was The Hills Have Eyes, and The Howling before that, and a lot of guest starring roles. My guest star [credit] on Lou Grant is what I got the call to audition for ’10’!
Oh that’s right I totally remember you in ‘10’.
The role of Mary Lewis was a little diamond.
So then how did you get the audition for E.T.?
I didn’t audition for E.T. Steven had called me in about a year before to audition for this film called Used Cars. Fortunately I didn’t get that one. But he remembered me for E.T. and said, ‘That’s who I want for E.T.’ So they called and offered it to me. I said, ‘Well I’d like to read the script first,’ and my agent went, ‘It’s fricken’ Steven Spielberg. Why do you need to read the script,’ but you have to know that you can do it well. Right?
And it’s better if you know that you like it, of course. Then in retrospect, what wasn’t to like?!? Pertaining to that, I could see Buppa now, if we had a time machine we could take the bear and we could put him in between E.T. and another stuffed animal when he hid in that closet. There could be a side plot of Buppa teaching E.T. to learn to speak, and say amazing self referential things when all the kids were at school! In light of that, how would you say, if anything, children are interacting differently this day in age than they did back in the early 80s or when you were a kid?
I think everybody sees that. We’re all into the electronics and parents have really bought into this incorrect teaching that the farther and the faster you push your kid, the better it is. Any psychologist will tell you that’s the worst thing you can do. There are studies that support that children are losing their ability to read social cues because they’re on the electronics so much.
Wow, losing social intelligence.
Yeah: Emotional Intelligence. Yeah. And you know a child’s first years are meant to learn who they are and evaluate who they are, and learn socially how to interact, Right? Well you can’t do that if you’re on an Ipad or a phone or… Our focus level has gone down from 12 to 8 seconds.
I actually read somewhere that if you don’t take at least 8 seconds to focus on something, the less likely it is to be stored in your short term memory. And that’s really scary because if you’re saying that we now only have 8 seconds of focus it means less and less is stored in our short term memory. And I’ve been noticing that in myself lately as in, ‘Oh did I do such and such?’ Like they’re just little things I don’t remember having done. And it’s even with things like social media, even just to go in and click ‘like’ under somebody’s picture, you’re most likely not going to remember that picture two days later because it took less than a second for you to even register it! It’s like our whole lives are becoming a blur, then with parents pushing their kids to over achieve it gets even more blurry and undistinguishable!
We’re like this! (snapping fingers in fast succession). We don’t slow down and the whole intention of Buppa is to teach children how awesome they are and let them experience it and claim it for themselves! We also have a nonprofit arm that people can donate to. Just got a beautiful donation from The Centers for Spiritual Living and just sent off a hundred bears to First Five who could not believe it…because they’re state funded, with all kinds of research—First Five [the organization with the ads that say:] ‘Talk to your child. Sing to your child’ couldn’t believe that somebody else knew about brain research for children under 7 years old and had developed a toy because that’s what they do, and I think we can create a whole new world of how we look at ourselves one bear at a time!
To procure one of these wonderful stuffed bundles of love before Valentine’s Day, or any other time of the year and to obtain more information, simply visit:
For more information on Ms. Wallace’s life coaching and spiritual work, please visit:
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