Shes been in the public eye for three decades, as a model, movie star, TV actress, Broadway performer, and childrens-book author (her latest is Its the Best Day Ever, Dad!). And after chronicling her postpartum depression in Down Came the Rain, Brooke landed at the heart of an important womens-health issue.
Now eight years into her marriage with writer and producer Chris Henchy, the couple is raising two daughters, Rowan, 6, and Grier, 3. Read on to find out how she balances her crazy-busy life, and what else happened the day the worlds most famous movie star popped by to apologize.
Q: You devote a lot of time to charities, especially Tupperwares Chain of Confidence campaign. Why are you so passionate about that and the SMART Girls program that Tupperware sponsors?
A: What Tupperware has stood for all these years is the independence of women, allowing women to work from home, earn a livingand thats what this Boys & Girls Clubs of America program, the SMART Girls program, is about. You just get these young women who dont necessarily have a healthy family life, or theyre being raised by their grandmother, and this is a place they can go to and they can get power. Thats what you want for these little people when they go out as young women.
Q: Is it true you had a sun scare?
A: Yeah, this [Brooke touches a patch on her upper left lip] keeps coming back. Ive had it for a while, but a year ago my doctor froze it off and it turned out it was precancerous. I was panicked. I thought, Of course! Everythings started to be in place, and now I have to get that? When everything is going well, my Catholic guilt rears its ugly head and says, “No, youre not allowed to be that happy. Were gonna give you cancer now!”
Q: Is that why youre now working with Coppertones NutraShield campaign?
A: I was from the generation of sitting out with oil and tin foil over your schoolbook [to reflect more sun]. It wasnt until I had kids that I started being more concerned. We need to protect our skin and our kids skin, and we need to do it now. I put it on before [my makeup]. Its easier to use sunblock as a moisturizer and then call it a day. I incorporate it into my morning, and keep it in the daily tooth-care area so that it seems like a daily routine.
Q: Youve been married eight years. Whats the best marriage advice youve ever heard?
A: Someone wrote on a card at my shower, “Dont ever go to bed angry.” Its one of the oldest ones in the book, but its so interesting what happens when you do. Its toxic. Your dreams are affected, and then in the morning, youve already been damaged. Well resolve at least to disagree. And then, I just find I sleep so much better.
Q: Whats most rewardingand challengingabout raising two girls?
A: Their vulnerability is the best and worst thing. The baby will hold my face and say, “I just love you so much, Mommy.” And its like, Oh, ohhh, I dont know if I can live up to this! And, yet, its the best. Theyll make you crazy, but theyll also make you so happy that youre crazy.
Q: Youve said that being a working mom leaves you exhausted. How do you reenergize?
A: Exercise is the only thing that reinvigorates me. I make appointments with other people [to go hiking], and I meet them at the base of the hillbecause Ill answer to that. I usually enjoy [exercise] after much more than I enjoy it during.
Q: Whats the most surprising thing about getting older?
A: The older I get, the younger I feel. Growing up, I was always the kid, but I spoke like an adult and was in adult roles. I didnt feel like a kid. The older I get, I actually feel younger! Which is good. I always thought when you get older, youll want to slow down, but I want to do even more.
Q: Do you have a favorite splurge?
A: A good hunk of dark Belgian chocolate. As Im getting older, Im enjoying my vices so much more because I feel like Ive deserved them.
Q: Whats your biggest health regret?
A: Not learning to love the way I looked earlier. And I think I would have had sex a lot earlier! [Laughs.] I think I would have lost my virginity earlier than I did at 22. I had the public and all this pressure, and I wish I had just gotten it over with in the beginning when it was sort of OK. I think I would have been much more in touch with myself. I think I wouldnt have had issues with weightI carried this protective 20 pounds [in college]. It was all connected. And to me, thats a health regret.
(Read about making smarter sexual health choices and how birth control can affect your health.)
Q: Are you ever afraid the depression you felt after having Rowan will rear its head again?
A: I mean, if I have a bad day, its not that the people around me dont go, “Uh, is she OK?” Thats the hardest part. I have to say, “Im fine, just leave me alone!”
Q: Do you ever worry?
A: I dont, because now Im armed with knowledge and experience, and I wont ever let myself think its OK to let [those feelings] continue. But who knows what menopause is going to be like for me?
Q: What happened the day Tom Cruise came over to apologize?
A: [Tom] called an hour ahead and said, “Can I?” And I was like, “Uhhh … am I being Punkd?” I called my husband, I called my publicist, I was like, “What do I do?” I did think, Do we use the front door? because we always use the kitchen door. Its one of those weird things where I was like, “We need to use the front door!” I had to lock the other door and pull the shade down. I was so relieved when my husband came home and started cooking. And when Katie brought the baby over, it just got defused and we looked at these two babies born on the same day in the same hospital. The irony is insane. But just to look at these babies, [I thought] Really? Lifes short. Lets just eat an omelet, and well all live our lives and be thankful we have these little people.
Q: Whats your absolute favorite relaxation ritual?
A: I love getting baths, and going to the Korean spas, and getting pummeled and scrubbed, and its so hot in the sauna you cant even stand it. I have to do things in a pretty extreme way to calm down. So a Swedish massage is not going to do it! I need to know that theyre in there with their thumbs and moving stuff around. Even in a bath; if its not boiling hot, and Im not thinking Im detoxing, Im like, what a waste of water! But, Ill put in Epsom salts and boil something out until I get light-headed, and then Ill be like, Ahhh!