Want to meet Drew? marie claire is holding an intimate evening with the star hosted by our editor, Nicky Briger. Enjoy champagne and canapes, and a goodie bag to take home complete with three of Drew’s favourite FLOWER Beauty products: Flower Lash Warrior Mascara, Flower Petal Put Lip Colour in Peachy Nude and Flower Full Face Palette.For more information on the event, including ticket info, head here.
One of Hollywood’s original girl bosses, Drew Barrymore started her first company, Flower Films, at age 19. More than two decades, countless films and two daughters later, the actress has launched Flower Beauty, a cosmetic brand that has already achieved cult status in the U.S.
Ahead of her trip to Australia to promote Flower Beauty, Drew chatted to marie claire about building an empire, female empowerment and how she keeps it real in an increasingly filtered world.
MC: You’ve always been refreshingly down to earth. How do you keep the bullshit level in check?
DB: I started in this business when I was 11 months old, so my bullshit tolerance is pretty high. But I think there are some new challenges, mostly social media, that are a real tool to spread negativity. I also feel like I’ve lived my life pretty openly — I have never tried to portray this perfect existence. I don’t think a perfect life is really relatable to many people. Life is incredible, don’t get me wrong, and I have two amazing daughters who mean everything in the world to me, but life has really had its hard moments. I always say that I march in the army of optimism ….. you have to …. I also don’t ever want my kids to see me being affected by mean people. I want them to see me rise above it and face things with grace and class. Putting positivity out in the world is extremely important to me.
MC: How does that part of your personality extend to the way you want female beauty to be perceived?
DB: A smile is the best make-up, I always say. We started this “Warrior” line at Flower Beauty, because I got excited about make-up being this layer of armour that can help you fight the day. It’s a confidence booster and everyone deserves to feel good about how they look every day, but there’s still nothing better than the look of happiness on someone’s face.
Flower Beauty is available at Chemist Warehouse
MC: You launched Flower Beauty in 2013, but you were only 19 when you started Flower Films. How does it feel to be a female pioneer in film?
DB: There were so many women before me who helped pave the way for me to be a female producer. I don’t think that me and my partner, Nancy Fallon, went into it thinking, “as females we’re going to take this opportunity and kill it”. We went in as hardworking producers and we killed ourselves to earn a seat at the table, and to earn the trust of the studios. When we did [the 2000 film] Charlie’s Angels, the head of the studio at the time was a woman, so we never felt like we were fighting to be in this boys’ club. But it felt good that we were these two women working together and making some great products that made the studios really happy.
MC: What inspired you to take control at such a young age, and who or what do you credit for giving you that early sense of ambition?
DB: I don’t think it’s any secret that I had a pretty unconventional childhood, but it taught me some incredible lessons. I think my ambition was born out of that. I also think I just have a strong work ethic, more so than ambition. I’ve always wanted to show up and do a great job. There were times in my life where I didn’t feel I had anyone to show up for me, to give me the consistency I wanted, so I’ve tried really hard to give that to people in my life and to the people I work with.
MC: You’ve been on film sets your whole life. How did that experience help shape who you are today?
DB: I think it has everything to do with who I am today. It’s an unusual way to grow up, interacting with adults and not being at a traditional school and going from job to job as a kid, but I wouldn’t change a second of it. It’s not the life I would ever let my kids live, but all of that made me who I am today.
MC: Did being in that environment ignite your passion for make-up, and ultimately your desire to start your own make-up brand?
DB: I’m sure it started there, but as a kid I saw how make-up transformed people, visually and physically. I wasn’t focused on formulations or product performance, but as I got older I was obsessed with all of it.
MC: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
DB: After E.T, Steven (Spielberg) told me I was going to be getting a lot of offers to endorse things. He said it was OK to say “no”. Basically, don’t sell out just because you can. I remember that so well, and he was right, companies did come knocking and it was tempting. It was just me and my mom and we didn’t have any money, but you have to make decisions that will have the best long-term outcome, which isn’t always easy.
MC: Is there anything you wish you’d done differently since you launched Flower Beauty?
DB: Of course. There are products that didn’t sell like we wanted them to, or shades that didn’t resonate with customers, but what I love is that our original mission statement of delivering prestige, quality products at a [affordable] price was the right call. So, at the core, I feel like we really hit the mark, but with any business there are going to be things you look back on and think, we could have done that better.
MC: What advice would you offer to women who are looking to start a business?
DB: Do it – but be smart about it. I always say, “slow and steady wins the race”. And do something you love. Nobody wants to dread going to work. If you are going to take the plunge and start a business, make sure you love it. Also, it takes a village. Nothing happens alone.
MC: Who do you rely on for advice and guidance?
DB: So many people. I work with a great team at my own company, as well as all of our manufacturing partners. I also have so many smart friends and people I’ve worked with in the past. You can’t make smart decisions in a bubble, you have to be open to advice and other people’s opinions.
MC: Which women inspire you?
DB: I’m inspired every day by different women. The mum on the street with the crying kid who keeps her cool, the author Kate Parker who wrote Strong Is The New Pretty, the women I work with at Flower Beauty, the woman who helps me take care of my kids. I love surrounding myself with people who I can look up to and learn from and I hope I can be that for them, too.
MC: You have two gorgeous little girls. What do you want to teach them about beauty and self-worth?
DB: Thank you so much. I think leading by example is so important. Be nice, treat people with respect, be a good person, be kind and compassionate. And be good to yourself. We really are our own worst critic so much of the time. I’m definitely careful around my kids to not say things like “I feel fat” or “I’ve got to go on a diet” or “I look like hell today”.
MC: What are your hopes and dreams for your daughters Olive and Frankie, and young girls around the world?
DB: There are so many incredible women out there fighting for equality and justice and accountability. I think it’s an amazing time for young girls.
MC: Your original passion is making films and now TV. Do you feel there’s been a shift in the roles available to women, and the stories being told?
DB: I think there’s been a shift in general about entertainment. People are consuming it so differently now. As someone who is a storyteller and produces film and TV, I’m grateful that companies such as Netflix have found a way to keep the younger consumers engaged. I think there’s always been great roles for women, from All About Eve to 9 to 5, Postcards from the Edge or Thelma & Louise. I directed a film [in 2009] called Whip It that showed incredibly strong female characters. So I think that talent and storytelling has always been there for women – we just need to keep portraying men and women in a positive light.
MC: Having worked as an actress and producer in a male-dominated industry for four decades, does it feel like this development is overdue?
DB: I was so young when I started in this industry that I never looked at it as male dominated, but as you get older you [do] think, wow, all the directors are men. And, of course, back in the day all the studio chiefs and agents were men. But then you had women such as Sherry Lansing and Amy Pascal running studios, and Patty Jenkins directing the incredible Wonder Woman reboot. The film I’m shooting now (The Stand-In), which my company is producing, has a female director. I think that we are headed in the right direction.
MC: From #MeToo to the renewed focus on female empowerment and diversity, it feels as if we are in the middle of a revolution at the moment. How do you feel impacted by this movement?
DB: I think it’s exciting. As the mother of two girls, I want them to know they can do anything in this world. I’d never want them to think something would be out of reach because they were girls.
MC: What do you think the biggest shift has been?
DB: Awareness. People know they will be held accountable for their actions.
MC: As someone with such a prominent voice, how do you want to continue to empower women?
DB: My company Flower Films has always had an association with female empowerment. When we did the Charlie’s Angels movies we had these three strong female characters, but we were careful to ensure they loved men. They were strong and independent but supported each other and the guys around them. That was almost 20 years ago, so that’s how I’ve always approached things.
MC: You’ve always eschewed the celeb scene in favour of friends who aren’t famous. The value of those close female friendships must be immense.
DB: When I directed Whip It, our tagline was “Find Your Tribe”. I loved that because it’s so true – you have to find the people who inspire you and raise you up, but are honest with you.
MC: We love the hashtag you launched, #TheWayItLooksToUs, encouraging people to be more honest on social media. How important is it for you to be an authentic voice and face amid all the filtered flawlessness?
DB: I think it’s important to show all aspects of life. There’s a temptation on social media to just show the good stuff, and I get it, there’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way or portray a certain lifestyle. But I just thought, that’s not how my life works and I’m not ashamed of it. The response was so positive, it was awesome!
MC: You’ve compared plastic surgery to heroin, explaining the slippery slope you think both would have. What about injectables?
DB: I have no judgements when it comes to people’s choices but, for me, I just want to let the natural ageing process happen. I’ve never done Botox or injectables, but I do love a good trip to the dermatologist. There’s some great laser treatments that don’t feel so invasive.
MC: When do you feel your most beautiful?
DB: When I’m happy. When I feel I gave the best of myself that day to my kids.
MC: You’ve just turned 44. What’s the best thing you’ve learnt in your 40s?
DB: Don’t sweat the small stuff!
This interview originally appeared in the April issue of marie claire.