In a tough town built around make-believe, how do you find and maintain authentic friendships? We got some insight from Amy, Andrea, Annie, Gillian, Kara, Lindsey, and Sasha, a seasoned group of entertainment insiders carving out meaningful lives in LA as they navigate work, relationships, motherhood, The Bachelor, and a ton of traffic.
Twenty-three seasons and counting
Amy starts the conversation in a Polo from France, where she’s reporting on the annual Cannes Film Festival.
“Every Monday for years, this group of friends has gathered at my house to watch The Bachelor. (I subsequently ended up writing a book about the show.) When another friend, actor Mandy Moore, showed me Marco Polo, I thought it would provide a perfect way to continue our ongoing ‘Bach Discush,’ as it came to be known.”
Others weren’t so sure. They were already “discushing” over what seemed like eight thousand different channels, including a listserv and an Instagram DM.
“Then one night it finally clicked,” recalls Lindsey, a journalist. “Someone Polo’d the group while doing her nightly skincare routine, which prompted someone else to ask what the others did for their skincare routines. Before you know it, we were all in our bathrooms laying out products.”
The group unmasks
Having broken the literal and metaphorical seal, the group established a Marco Polo zone where nothing was off limits: crazy bad dates, work frustration, big life decisions – “all of the things,” as Lindsey puts it – with bare faces, bad lighting, and tears welcome. For this particular group, it was a revelation.
“We’re tough in real life. We have media jobs that require us to wear a certain amount of armor,” says Andrea, also a journalist. “When I joined the group, there were big things happening in my life that I hadn’t planned to share with anyone because I was laboring under this illusion that some things you just deal with yourself. So I was surprised and grateful for the support I received from this…I don’t know if ‘circle’ is the right word. We’ve almost become a feminine collective.”
“I believe the word you’re looking for, my love, is coven,” laughs Sasha, a critic and TV host. “We are a coven, and it’s the magic of Marco Polo that brought us together! Yay us!”
Sasha, who joined the group shortly after giving birth to her daughter, credits the friendship with staving off postpartum depression during the exhausting, isolating maelstrom of new motherhood. She points out that while many women in the group interview others for a living and know how to get a story, it’s rare to have a comfortable, safe place to share your own. That’s what Marco Polo provided.
“The app gave me access to girlfriends, a sounding board, a place to vent at 3 a.m. Something to keep me company during the nightmare of breast pumping,” she says.
Annie, a writer, found similar comfort when she was home-bound following knee surgery.
“My house is a little isolated, and even under normal circumstances I don’t get a lot of human interaction when I’m there working all day. So I might have felt very alone. Instead, I had human connection. I got to be with my friends every day.”
A sprawl-defying bond
When Andrea moved to LA from New York seven years ago, she’d heard that it could be hard to make friends in LA. She got lucky when she landed in a Melrose Place-style building with a built-in group of adoptive friends.
“We’ve all moved on, and I miss that dorm-room feeling. But Marco Polo reminds me of a virtual dorm room where we can crash, gossip, and vent,” she says. “It creates proximity even though we’re spread out over the city.”
“We can all be together without having to physically be together,” Gillian, a publicist, agrees. “Even though we all live in the same city, it can be difficult to get together in person with everyone’s busy schedules.”
“Since this is an LA story as well as a Marco Polo story, I will second that traffic in LA is legitimately a life problem,” Kara, a journalist, says. “Even tonight, a few of us are watching The Bachelor season opener ‘together’ via Marco Polo. If you can’t make the activity, you still feel like you’re part of the hang.”
Amy says that with upwards of 40 Polos per day in their group, she’ll often find herself stuck in traffic playing Polos like a podcast.
“Marco Polo actually forces us all to listen!” Annie says. “You can fast forward, but you can’t interrupt. That’s almost brought us closer.”
“There’s a road trip mentality with Marco Polo,” Sasha says. “When you’re in a vehicle facing forward, you’re unguarded. Things come out that wouldn’t normally come out. And these amazing women are next to you saying, ‘We’re here, we’re in the car with you (quite often literally), and we’re all on this journey together.’”