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A Couple of Contradictions

Actress Joy Bryant and her husband stuntman Dave Pope prove that in Hollywood, nothing is what it seems

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To describe Joy Bryant as a model-cum-actress would be technically accurate—she’s appeared in campaigns for Ralph Lauren and had a starring role in the hit drama series Parenthood—but it’s a label that feels at the same time profoundly inadequate. In many ways, Bryant shatters the Hollywood stereotype: she went to Yale, lives for action sports and recently started her own company. The 40-year-old New York native is the ultimate study in contrasts.

The same can certainly be said about her husband, Dave Pope, a 6′ 5″ professional stuntman with an unbridled passion for sewing. (He picked up the skill from his mother and grandmother.) Last year, the two joined forces to launch Basic Terrain, a clothing label inspired by their love of travel and adventure. The line began with a pair of fisherman’s pants and has since expanded to outerwear and dresses. Pope uses a sewing machine to make the collection’s samples himself.

“We’re married, we’re in business together and, for a while, we were running the company out of our home. It was really hard to separate business from home life, but we’ve finally moved out of the dining room and into an office!” says Bryant. “Over the course of our seven-year marriage, we’ve spent a lot of time working in different cities, so the fact that we get to share this together is pretty awesome.”

Below, the couple talks about marriage, the perks (and challenges) of being business partners and more in a candid interview… with each other.

David Pope: What’s one weird thing you do when I’m not around?
Joy Bryant: I leave the dishes in the sink even longer than I do when you’re around.

DP: What was the craziest night of your life?
JB: I can’t really recall many of my crazy nights. I’ll leave it at that!

JB: What’s one thing I do that drives you nuts, but you never complain about?
DP: When we’re both in the same room and you want me to get up and get something for you, because you’re five feet farther away from it than I am.

DP: What would your death row meal be?
JB: It probably would be meat! My death row meal would be the best macaroni and cheese and fried shrimp, and peas with butter.

JB: Describe your initial impression of me the first time we met.
DP: I was terrified. I don’t even know if I spoke. I didn’t want to put my foot in my mouth. I remember thinking, Wow, this girl is really hot and she’s talking to me! Which is kind of strange.

DP: When did you know that I was the one?
JB: We were on the phone and I was saying something that you didn’t understand. So you said, ‘Did you just say Turkey Booty?’ When is “Turkey Booty” the answer to anything? It made me laugh so much. He had me at “Turkey Booty.”

JB: Beyond the physical, what do you find most attractive about me?
DP: Your creativity. Half the time I don’t know what you’re talking about. The fact that you look at things differently, and constantly ask if there’s another way to do it.

JB: What’s the most challenging thing about marriage?
DP: I’m constantly worrying about your position in my decision-making. You’re very understanding and you encourage me to do things as an individual. I would say one of the most challenging things about marriage is accepting that I still have that freedom, because you’re so cool with it.

JB: What’s the most rewarding?
DP: Having somebody cool to go to for anything.

DP: What would surprise people the most about me?
JB: I think that people would be surprised that you sew. When you go into your man cave and come out with a silk skirt… even his friends are surprised by it!

DP: What’s the best aspect about being in business together?
JB: That we get to spend time together. Over the course of our seven-year marriage, we’ve spent a lot of time apart because of working in different cities. So the fact that we get to share this together is pretty awesome. I also love your dedication—it’s really inspiring.

DP: And what’s the most challenging?
JB: That you think you know everything!

DP: What’s your favorite hour of the day?
JB: 6:30am! I like to wake up and read for an hour, then get out of bed at 7:30. That hour is my favorite time of the day. I’m a morning person.

JB: How are we different? Excluding the fact that I’m a morning person.
DP: I definitely think we have more similarities than differences. But when it comes to going out and trying something new, I’m slightly more adventurous.

DP: What scares you the most about the future?
JB: Global warming and war. The earth is filled with garbage.

JB: How would you spend your last day on earth?
DP: I would say in the mountains with you and the family. Anywhere in nature.
JB: Mine would involve smoking a pack of cigarettes—I quit smoking a couple years ago—surrounded by friends and family, hopefully laughing my ass to death.

Shop the Basic Terrain collection at basicterrain.com, Ron Robinson at Fred Segal Melrose, Satine, Surf Bazaar at the Surf Lodge, Urban Zen, Scoop Soho, East Hampton, Brentwood, and Covet + Lou.