It wasn’t until 2012 that Rita Wilson released her first album, but in the past decade, the singer-songwriter, actress, and producer has churned out four more, each one’s accomplishments building upon the last’s. Her fifth, Rita Wilson Now & Forever: Duets, was co-produced by Wilson and the Grammy Award–winning producer Matt Rollings. In it, she sings American classics, many from the 1970s, which was a formative period in her life, alongside Willie Nelson, Keith Urban, Smokey Robinson, Jackson Browne, Leslie Odom Jr., and others. She has also released a new single with Sebastián Yatra, “Til You’re Home,” from the film A Man Called Otto, which Wilson produced and which stars her husband, Tom Hanks. “Til You’re Home” has been placed on the Oscar short list for Best Original Song. Here, she shares her key components to the good life. —Ashley Baker

Bag: I try to avoid carrying a purse whenever I can, but the perfect one would have a designated section for everything—phone, wallet, lipstick, sunglasses. Maybe it lights up inside so you can see what the heck is in there. See Nora Ephron’s essay “I Hate My Purse.”
: “Now they got me used to that clean white linen and that fancy French cologne.” Thank you, Joni Mitchell. So clean white linen and that fancy Tom Ford Black Orchid cologne.
Bike: One with a super-comfy gel seat.
: Surrounded by my husband, friends, my children, and lots of laughs. Plus, that white-chocolate coconut cake from Doan’s Bakery, in the Valley. Or if I’m in New York, pink cake from Amy’s Bread.
: Insightful, honest, intelligent, funny, sporty, music-loving, joyful, and somewhat outrageous.
Breakfast, weekday: What I eat versus what I want to eat are two different things.
Breakfast, weekend: See above.
Car: A 1971 3.5 280SL Mercedes convertible but with airbags, Bluetooth, and a navigation system.

Children: Exactly the ones I have. Pure perfection.
Cocktail: A Grey Goose vodka-martini cocktail with two olives. Did you know that if a martini is made with vodka, it’s not a true martini? That belongs to gin only. Otherwise it’s known as a “vodka-martini cocktail.” Meryl Streep taught me that.
Cocktail appetizer: Those crispy Parmesan-cheese twists.
Date: Music under the stars.
Diet: Where the things you have to eat for good health and weight management are the things you want to eat.
Disguise: Does being invisible count as the perfect disguise?
Dress: Comfortable, chic, sexy, able to laugh in.

Any drive with a view, but as a California girl I’d say up or down the Pacific Coast Highway at any time of year.

Enemy: I’ve known a few of these. They know who they are. There is nothing perfect about them. They’re flawed. Like we all are. But they’re a bit more flawed.
Escape: Swimming in the Aegean Sea without a watch or phone. Can you believe you can swim with a watch or phone?

Excuse: Either tell the truth or say nothing. What you don’t say also says a lot.
Fit: Something that accentuates the positive and minimizes the negative all while being comfortable and stylish.
: When you know you’ll be seeing that person again soon.
Hideaway: Painting with music playing. No one ever interrupts when I’m doing that.
Hotel: The Lowell hotel in New York has wood-burning fireplaces and feels so romantic.
Indulgence: Long vacations.
Jacket: I love a good cut that’s easy to move in. Tom Ford makes beautiful ones.
Last Meal: Somebody asked me what my last meal was, and I thought it meant what I ate yesterday! Let’s call this “the last meal before I go to a desert island.” That would be my dad’s Greek-style barbecue chicken, my mom’s tiropita, In-N-Out Burger No. 2 meal, a margarita, chips, salsa, and guacamole.
Novel: Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy.
: A German shepherd.

Piece of advice: When I asked Bruce Springsteen why I thought there’d be a place for me to start writing songs now (10 years ago), when he’d been writing all his life, he said, “Because, Reets, creativity is time-independent.”
: A seaside taverna in Greece that shall remain nameless.
Theme song to your life: “Celebration,” by Kool & the Gang.
: With family and friends.
Wake-up time: Free of alarms.
Weekend bag: A very old Louis Vuitton I’ve had for decades.
Writing implement: A Zebra pen with black ink, in the 0.7-mm. size.

Rita’s Essentials

Clockwise from top left: Tom Ford Black Orchid fragrance; a Louis Vuitton duffel bag; Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy; a 1971 3.5 280SL Mercedes-Benz; Kool & the Gang’s album Something Special; a pink cake from Amy’s Bread.