Drew Barrymore on Struggling to Achieve Balance and Why Working Out Isn’t Her Top Priority
It’s easy to think of Drew Barrymore as a longtime friend—and not just because many of us have been watching her on the big screen for almost four decades, in iconic movies like E.T., Never Been Kissed, Charlie’s Angels, and more. What makes her feel like such a close pal are the qualities she brings to everything she’s done, from her superstar roles to her beauty brand, Flower Beauty. No matter what, Drew always exudes a rare combination of eternal warmth, positivity, humor, and realness.
For Drew, those traits are a vital part of staying healthy and well. “I really like to be silly. I can't really stop myself,” she admits. “I think your body chemistry changes when you're laughing. I respect laughter—it is medicine.” This belief was top of mind as she created The Drew Barrymore Show, her daytime talk show that premiered this past fall on CBS. The 45-year-old’s goal was to blend news and human-interest stories in a way that was honest and uplifting..
Another core belief that Drew lives by: That kindness and taking care of one another is the path forward, particularly after the tumultuous year we all just had. And that’s exactly why Health chose Drew to be on the cover of our first-ever Change Issue. Whether you’re wanting to make change in the world or within your personal life, Drew’s idea of leading with kindness is inspiring.
What made you want to create The Drew Barrymore Show?
I love comedy and celebrating people. I also like the news and human interest. I don’t care if it’s naive, but I can’t not try to find the good in people. Health, wellness, interior design, beauty—I get to cover all these different facets of things I’ve been involved with. It’s more about spending time in my life; it’s about the pillars in life that we’re all interested in.
What do you try to bring to the screen each time you film?
I just keep trying to meet the moment and be myself. I know authentic is such a grossly overused word, but I just want to be truthful, honest, honoring, and aware—while being myself, because I don’t know who else to be. I would just be lost. We are what we have to rely on, which is terrifying. But what is the alternative?
Let’s talk about Flower Beauty. You launched it in 2013 and appear to be very hands-on with the business—is that accurate?
Yes! I’m in the labs. I’m very into the packaging, the formulation, the marketing, all of that. We started in a very MacGyver way, with a small team. And we’ve really grown. We’re in the best place we’ve ever been. And that took years of figuring out. The formulas have been my main thing. A woman can’t have lipstick that frays at her lips, and she needs eyeliner that stays on. And it’s not expensive, because I’m not into expensive stuff—I don’t want to buy it, and I don’t want to sell it.
Beyond beauty, you have quite a few other business ventures.
Yes—home, kids, eyewear, beauty, and now hair. Over the course of nearly 10 years, to do that thoughtfully is a lot. We have this insane kitchen line coming out called Beautiful. I’m so crazy about the direction. It’s not what I would have expected at all from myself. I like to make things. I can’t stop.
This Health issue focuses on change—what does that word mean to you?
Change is everything. It’s so vital. Everything is always changing, but there are also fundamentals. I think 2020 made us rethink our fundamental everything. It’s hard to predict where our country will be—what will be representative of our morals. The only thing we have control over is ourselves, and that’s not selfish and indulgent. You only have control over how you take care of people. And I do think that’s the meaning of life. We’re here to take care of each other.
Do you think the events that took place in 2020 will lead to or inspire change?
No life escapes trauma, and the human experience is so complex—but I love the eye-opening that 2020 brought. You thought you understood, but there’s something about 2020 that basically [feels like] a rebirth. That’s such a powerful thing. That’s all I keep thinking about—it’s come back anew. That’s change.
Your daughters are 8 and 6. With so much going on in the world—from COVID-19 to Black Lives Matter to the election—how did you approach those subjects with them?
I am extremely honest, and I try to be honest in a way that doesn’t scare them. What I do not want to do is take my kids’ sense of security and safety away—that’s me robbing them of something by keeping them informed. But they are very informed. They know exactly who is doing what, and what is happening, and they are incredibly tuned-in on our world. We’re just going to figure out a way to be totally worldly, mindful, aware, astute, super empowered with all the information—my biggest art is to do it without instilling fear. They march in marches, and they canvased our building to get people to vote.
Are you strict with television and media?
They watch some TikTok. I have the rule of not really having the news on very loud around them, but their school talks to them about it. And they know. And I’m glad. I want to keep them kids as long as possible, and that’s why I’m really protective about putting them out there in the world. That is where I’m a complete Doberman. I’d rather have my kids know more about the world than show my kids to the world.
Switching gears, you post a lot about wellness on social media. What’s one wellness practice you haven’t mastered yet?
I’ve never had balance—I think balance is an elusive bitch who has evaded me my entire life. I’m just ready to wrestle her to the ground and have an old-fashioned, hair-pulling girl fight with her. I’m the most wrecking-ball pendulum of extremes, with no pretty little middle.
Have you started to win that fight?
I’ve got her pinned down right now. It feels better than usual. [The past year] has been, in a lot of ways, a really healthy year for me, ironically, considering everything going on. I exercise, and I had already gained the weight everyone else talked about gaining—I had been doing that every year prior.
You’ve been very candid on Instagram about feeling like you needed to get in better shape. How are you feeling about where you are now?
Good. I’m not a straight arrow, so I will never be all one thing—eating the perfect food and working out every day. I just will never be that person. Between my kids and work, I don’t have the time in life. But I realized that if I’m more consistent about it and carve out the time for it, it leads to a better life. Before, it was all workout or none. And that really didn’t suit me. I had to prioritize it, but I will tell you, it is, like, third on my list. It probably should be first, but it’s, like, kids and work are probably rivals. But I’m glad about that, because years ago working out was, like, number 24 on the list. Actually, my health is fourth on the list—my friendships are third. But, hey, it’s in the top five—so that’s good.
What do your friends mean to you?
My girlfriends were my first family. My friendships really are gardens, and I cultivate them. I’ve been friends with all my friends, for, like, 20, 30, 40 years. I just want to be with my very real friends—and it’s hella fun, but it’s f---ing real, my relationships with my friends. Friendship is not frivolous; it’s important.
Looking at your life, what are you most proud of?
If I can say it in a way that’s not self-congratulatory, I’m happy that I’m still working. I have the privilege to work, and I work as hard as I possibly can to maintain that privilege. In my personal life, it’s my kids—they are my very first priority with everything. It’s such a hard thing to be a parent, and I just want to take care of them to the best of my ability. Those two girls are the best thing I’ll ever do with my life.
Styling by Lee Harris at The Wall Group; hair by Daniel Howell at Tracey Mattingly; makeup by Robin Fredriksz at Tracey Mattingly
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter