Besides her regular gig on The Daily Show, Olivia Munn is costarring in the comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It with Sarah Jessica Parker and is set to appear in Aaron Sorkin’s highly anticipated HBO series, More as This Story Develops. Funny (and perfectly self-deprecating), Olivia cracks wise on diets, exercise, and—yes—the ex.
SHAPE: You grew up all over the world, including Japan. What was that like?
OLIVIA: My stepfather was in the Air Force. I was constantly the new girl, which was really hard because people weren’t welcoming to me. Walking into a cafeteria was literally like going onto a battle- field. “Oh crap, oh crap, where am I going to sit?” For most of junior year in high school, I had lunch with the 70-year-old librarian!
SHAPE: So sad! But aren’t a lot of comics essentially tragic clowns, smiling on the outside, crying on the inside?
OLIVIA: That’s right. I’m actually sitting in a dark closet sobbing as we speak.
OLIVIA: I’m so glad you find this amusing; it makes me feel better knowing that my pain is helping you. But all jokes aside, you do have to find a way to laugh through pain. The reason those “poor me” jokes work is that they have a grain of truth.
SHAPE: Okay, let’s talk about something else that’s painful. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a subject we hear is close to your heart.
OLIVIA: It is. I was only 12 years old when my grandmother found out she had breast cancer. I remember thinking it was a death sentence. But she had a mastectomy and survived—and lived many wonderful years longer. She taught me that we fight to live and feel and love, and that you can’t let one experience define your existence.
SHAPE: What do you do today to stay healthy, in terms of the disease?
OLIVIA: I perform a self-exam every month. If you don’t keep an eye on your body and its changes, how can you expect a doctor to do it once or twice a year? Take care of your body: It’s the one thing that will be with you on this entire journey, from beginning to end.
SHAPE: You obviously take amazing care of yours, which is why you got those sexy modeling jobs. Were you ever afraid you’d be pigeonholed as just a pretty face with a smokin’ bod?
OLIVIA: Not at all. The idea that women can’t be sexy and smart is so antiquated. Don’t get me wrong—I’m proud of those other covers. But doing SHAPE...I’m going to get a little emotional here...is a huge deal to me because it speaks to so many women.
SHAPE: So you really are female- friendly, huh?
OLIVIA: Yes, it may surprise you to know that most of my close friends are women. I don’t trust a girl who says she has a hard time being friends with other women. She’s the person who will steal your boyfriend.
SHAPE: So if you’re not hatching plans to steal one another’s boyfriends, what are you and your besties doing together?
OLIVIA: We make up funny dances about guys. I came up with dance aerobic routines that we do a few times a week to a 45-minute playlist. They have funny names like the One-Night-Stand and the Ex-Boyfriend. We all have that ex with the stupid dance who we love to hate, right? Mine did the jumping-up-and-down-fist-pump- in-the-air-with-an-overexcited- smile-plastered-on-his-face dance. It’s so much more fun than the alternative workouts my friends plan. They always ask me if I want to go for a hike. And I’m like, “No, why would I do that when I’ve got TiVo?”
SHAPE: Obviously your TV habit isn’t making you pack on weight. In fact, we hear you lost 16 pounds in two months a couple of years ago. How did you do it?
OLIVIA: First, I made up a diet I called “If I can’t see it, I don’t eat it.” For example, if you buy a roasted chicken at the store, it sounds healthy, right? But those brown juices in the pan are made of what? Sugar? Soy sauce? If I don’t know for sure, it’s not going in my mouth.
SHAPE: Good thing you weren’t blind or you would’ve starved to death. What were you able to eat?
OLIVIA: A lot! I had a big breakfast, which was a glass of 100 percent grapefruit juice, four hard-boiled eggs, two sliced tomatoes, and a mango. Lunch and dinner were chicken salads I made myself or a veggie burger wrapped in lettuce. I also snacked all the time: peanuts, dried fruit, turkey bacon. As for beverages, I drank water, water, and more water.
SHAPE: Do you use a scale?
OLIVIA: Absolutely. I need to see the hard numbers in order to stay on track. I don’t believe in the “jeans” test because it’s easy to cheat—I have a pair that fits like sweatpants because I haven’t washed them since 1998! God forbid I’d have to go through the pain of stretching them out again.