Emancipation, addiction and family abuse: Bijou Phillips’ own story.

Phillips was born in 1980 to The Mamas & The Papas lead musician John Phillips and his third wife Geneviève Waïte, a South African model. The parents, who were both dealing with drug addictions, were deemed unfit to take care of Phillips. As a result, she was placed in foster care in upstate New York.

Phillips later reflected via an Instagram post that her biological parents had worked hard to regain custody of her.

“They spent years and years fighting for custody, so I bounced around a lot. When I was a kid separated from my parents, I remember my mother coming and wanting to take me and just wanting to go with her so much and screaming and crying and gripping the door, I was dragged inside, it took two adults and the door closed,” she said.

Although Phillips said her foster parents “were so great” and she’s still “really close” with the foster family, Phillips decided she wanted to live on her own. By age 14 she had left school and emancipated herself.

Reflecting on that time to The Guardian, Phillips said: “If you were 14 years old and able to live on your own in an apartment in New York City, and you got invited to all these clubs, and you got a bank account and you had a car service you could call so that you could go wherever you wanted… what would happen?”

In her young teens as well, Phillips started her modelling career. She landed a Calvin Klein underwear advertisement, even though she was underage. 

Three years later, when she was 17, Phillips entered rehab for drug addiction. Phillips said she had her biological father’s support during this time, and they were in contact.