‘Punky Brewster’ is back with Soleil Moon Frye, at 44 still spunky with punky power on Peacock

 Some showbiz kids turn out just fine. Some turn out great.

The new ‘Punky Brewster’ cast

Soleil Moon Frye can be found in the great column, thanks to the ultra-likable and perfectly normal personality that is her essence. Radiating a sweet spunky charm is how she won the title role on NBC’s family-friendly sitcom Punky Brewster, which lasted four seasons. It debuted in 1985 when she was just eight-years-old.

 Now at age 44 with four kids of her own, Soleil is revisiting the show that made her a child star. The reboot of “the spunkiest show of the ’80s,” Punky Brewster launches February 25, 2021 on Peacock, the NBC/Universal streaming service.

 Soleil joined her original castmate Cherie Johnson, plus Quinn Copeland, Lauren Lindsey Donzis, and Freddie Prinze Jr., as well as executive producers Steve Armogida and Jim Armogida during a virtual interview session with the Television Critics Association (TCA) last week.

 Of course Soleil was jubilant describing shooting the show’s pilot with an audience before COVID hit. A crowd of fans who had a connection with the original Punky filled the seats, and their reaction was overwhelming.

 She told the TCA, “It felt like lightning in a bottle. There was an energy that was so beautiful and amazing, the way we all came together. You could literally hear a pin drop in the live-audience taping because people were so invested. It felt incredibly. Cherie and I were so emotional at the end when we were talking to the audience. These are not just characters for us, these are our beings. Punky power to us is about our rediscovery of self. You could feel it that night. And then to shoot the rest of the series during COVID, to really do it in a safe way was so incredible, and to keep the authenticity, it was truly magical to see.”

 In the original show, an abandoned Punky is taken in by a grumpy old manager of an apartment building who adopts her. The new series has Punky caring for a feisty orphan (Quinn Copeland), along with raising her three kids in an apartment, often visited by her ex-husband (Freddie Prinze Jr.), and her friend (Cherie Johnson). Everyone seems to exude some type of punky power.

 Remembering Soleil Moon Frye back in the ’80s at NBC events, this reporter saw how she behaved on and off the set. She was always a real kid, but never bratty. So I asked her to ponder, “What advice would you give your eight-year-old self?”

 Soleil got emotional and said, “You’re gonna make me cry. I would wrap my arms around my eight-year-old self and say that it’s all gonna be okay, and to be strong, and that someday you are gonna be back on the lot of your dreams with the people you love, doing what you love, with a heart bursting full of gratitude, and working with angels. Really, truly, it makes me so emotional because I just have such gratitude. I really, really sincerely do. The fact that I get to stand in the treehouse with one of my best friends again, and spend birthdays together, and see these incredible faces every day, and to have been able to work during COVID when so many people were out of work, and to just be able to do what I love. I feel so grateful.”

  “So I would hug my eight-year-old self and tell her ‘it’s gonna all be okay, and even better than you could ever dream of.’”

 Tune in Punky Brewster starting February 25, 2021 streaming on Peacock.


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.