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Kate Walsh

The Actress and Entrepreneur on Growing Up in Arizona, Her ‘Boyfriend in a Bottle,’ Acting, and Causes She’s Passionate About

Actress and entrepreneur Kate Walsh—known for her roles on such shows as Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, 13 Reasons Why, and Emily in Paris—has been busy. We’re speaking via telephone during a recent Tuesday evening for me, and Wednesday morning for her, as she was in Australia at the time.

“I’m coming at you from the future!” she jokes.

I thank her for the interview and for speaking with me again—I’ve interviewed her before—and she replies that not only is she happy to do so, but she’s so excited because “I miss Tucson and I miss Arizona.”

Walsh moved to Tucson when she was 11 and grew up there, later attending the University of Arizona.

“I’ve loved it,” she shares. “I had the best time growing up there. That’s where my best girlfriends still are, and I love going back. …

“There’s nothing like the desert in bloom. And ocotillos and Saguaros—I love it. I love hiking, too.”

In fact, when she was back this past summer to visit her friends—she comes back at least once a year—she spent time hiking in Saguaro National Park. During the visit, she also spent time at the Grand Canyon and in Sedona.

“Arizona to me is just one of the most beautiful states,” she says.

Walsh also loves Sonoran Mexican food and the iconic Arizona Inn (which is where she stays in Tucson when she visits if she’s not staying with one of her friends).

“I also worked there in college,” she shares.

Her Arizona roots and the beauty of the landscape influenced her so much that she created a cactus garden, complete with rocks, at her home in Australia.

Current Roles, and Reprising her Grey’s Character

While she was in the United States this summer, Walsh spent time in Los Angeles filming several episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, which was the much-anticipated reprise of her popular character Dr. Addison Montgomery on the show.

“It was really overwhelming and beautiful and very emotional,” she says of going back to the show, for the role she had played on it from 2005-2012. “Imagine going back to a job you were at [many] years ago, but some of the same people are still there. It’s like going home for the holidays but if you haven’t been home for [many] years. … It was like a warm, tearful embrace.”

She has also been busy filming other roles.

Walsh flew to Europe to shoot the second season of Emily in Paris, which dropped on Dec. 22.

Then, back in the U.S., she also filmed a new show called Sprung.

“It’s a Covid comedy,” she explains. “I play a congresswoman who may have bought stock in a certain vaccine and then dumped it. It was a really fun show to do.”

That show—for which an air date has yet to be announced—also stars Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt.

Now Walsh is back in Australia, and this month will be performing in a stage production of Mary Stewart.

The Scent of Success

It was around the time she moved to Arizona when Walsh’s grandmother gave her a bottle of violet perfume.

“I’ve always loved fragrance,” she says. “I remember, when I was young, my mom had this one friend and we’d go to her house. They’d have coffee and I’d explore. She had this great boudoir vanity with all these perfumes and bottles. I remember being just obsessed with it. It was like a fantasyland. That and a good playhouse—and where’s the jewelry box—and I’m done! So, I always loved it.

“Then when I was in high school in Tucson I got Jessica McClintock [perfume], then later I got my first Chanel.”

Fast-forward to 2008. She was on Private Practice then, playing Dr. Addison Montgomery (the character which would later cross over to Grey’s) and she had just broken up with her real-life boyfriend.

“I missed his cologne,” she says.

She was out shopping and so went over to the men’s fragrance counter.

“I don’t have to have a boyfriend to have that boyfriend smell,” she remembers thinking.

The idea of a “boyfriend in a bottle” stuck with her, and so in 2009 she founded Boyfriend, launching on the Home Shopping Network in 2010.

“I wanted to do just a digital brand,” she says. “I wanted to do it without traditional public relations or buying ads in magazines—just doing web commercials and just doing it online.”

At the time, the idea was unique. Twitter was just getting going and Instagram wasn’t around yet. The digital landscape was entirely different.

Today, Boyfriend—which is neither a masculine nor feminine scent—is an award-winning fragrance.

“With top notes of night-blooming jasmine and juicy plum, Boyfriend opens up into layers of warm vanilla, tears of benzoin, a hint of patchouli and finally heats up on your skin with a touch of musk [synthetic] and golden amber,” it is described as on

Boyfriend is a lifestyle brand, and launched with a body oil, hand and body cream, candle, eau de parfum, and a solid fragrance.

Walsh always wanted the brand to be a way to connect with her fans, and so she created a group called Boyfriend Confidential on Facebook. There, she and her team ask for members’ opinions on products, and ideas for product development.

“We really do use that,” Walsh says. “So, it’s sort of an interactive brand in that way, and it makes me feel really connected to our clients. It’s for them. It’s very analogous to TV and film, because you’re doing this for the audience. Ultimately, the audience has to like [your products].”

Walsh says there are several new fragrances that they are currently testing, which were developed with input from several people from the group.

The group was also the ones who suggested having a car air freshener.

“I wouldn’t have thought of that,” Walsh says. “But I loved the idea and we made it!”

In addition to the Boyfriend website, the company’s products are now also available on Amazon—meaning they can be purchased internationally, which was one of Walsh’s goals.

Committed to Causes

As if acting and running a company weren’t enough, Walsh is also very active in supporting various causes.

For many years she has been involved with Operation Smile, which treats those with cleft lips and cleft palates, as well as Oceana, which is an international conversation organization that addresses such things as legislation for reef protection, seafood fraud, protecting oceans from deepwater drilling, and more.

She is also involved with Planned Parenthood, especially Planned Parenthood of Arizona.

“It was seminal in my growing-up,” she shares. “It’s where I went when I didn’t have health insurance in Arizona, and when I was a struggling actress in Chicago or New York. I always went to Planned Parenthood, not just for birth control, but for health services, my annual exam—everything. They really expanded what they do and their services over the years, and it’s really an incredible organization, particularly the Arizona chapter. I’m very passionate about working with them.

“I’ve really, even recently, been focusing more on women’s issues and helping women,” she says.

Recently, she’s been hosting a weekly or bi-weekly event on her Instagram page, shining a light on women-founded industries and young entrepreneurs.

“Women’s health and education are critical and something I think we’ll always have to fight for.

“In the meantime, I’m also trying to slow down,” she says, laughing. “I sort of just pretend that I can do that. Sometimes I pretend I’m moving in slow motion just to have the sense of slowing down!”