We catch up with iconic actress-turned-business mogul Drew Barrymore in Toronto at the Canadian launch her beauty line, Flower Beauty. Why is the movie star cutting back on Hollywood roles? And why did the former CoverGirl decide to launch her own cosmetics line at Walmart despite offers from other brands?
“This is strong!” says Drew Barrymore, after taking her first sip of a mojito-inspired cocktail. She pauses and, with a bubbly yet mischievous demeanour and grin, takes another sip. The room morphs into a crowd of giggles, now that the 40-odd Toronto-based beauty editors and writers who’ve been amassing in the back dining area of Colette have all turned from their respective conversations to face Barrymore. With her hair pulled back in a casual ponytail, she has a refreshing laidback ease for a Hollywood star, one that I suppose most of us can only hope the legendary free spirit lives up to in person. Despite donning two strands of pearls over a preppy navy-and-white striped sweater and tailored pants, she exudes flower child sensibilities in the way she seems carefree about the flashing iPhone cameras and peppers her speech with surfer-girl adjectives like “awesome.”
“‘This is strong!’ says Drew Barrymore, after taking her first sip of a mojito-inspired cocktail”
The actress just casually sauntered into the Canadian launch party for her cosmetic line, Flower Beauty, without having a PR person introduce her first. After all, there’s no need. She’s Drew Barrymore. She’s been a household name ever since Steven Spielberg immortalized a 7-year-old version of the actress in E.T., and the tabloids took interest in her atypical childhood in the limelight. Long before Angelina Jolie came along, Barrymore was Hollywood’s original bad girl, with a public persona as a wild child that she mirrored on the big screen in films like Poison Ivy. As she left her party animal phase behind, she seamlessly moved into roles in blockbuster rom-coms, comedies, and dramas without the child-star stigma getting in the way. From iconic roles in Boys on the Side, Never Been Kissed, Donnie Darko, and The Wedding Singer to Charlie’s Angels, Riding in Cars with Boys, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Going The Distance, she’s become America’s perhaps most unlikely sweetheart.
Despite coming from one of the most famous families in Hollywood, and having well-documented years of gossip-worthy relationships and party habits, she’s still relatable and likeable – perhaps because she’s been laissez-faire when it comes to her image. Even if she’s made some cringe-worthy tabloid headlines, she’s never let what people might say get in the way of her personal choices. She’s too busy experiencing life and telling her own story to worry about how that narrative plays out in the press.
It’s fitting, then, that the actress is here in Toronto to launch her first cosmetics line, Flower Beauty, which she’s purposely set at a drugstore-worthy price-point. The line sells at Walmart, with some of the more popular items, like Lip Chubbies, retailing for just $7.98. Prices start at $5.98 for eyeliners and eyebrow definers and only go up to $13.98 for foundation, $19.00 for gift sets, and $24.95 for eau de toilette fragrances. While she could easily use her Hollywood royalty status to lend her face to a designer beauty label, it didn’t feel right to the actress who once tied the knot with Canada’s Tom Green and dated Apple poster boy Justin Long on and off for years. She’s clearly always been a woman who chooses substance over superficialities – who values the sincerity of the real world over the exclusivity of the A-list.
“It’s such an honour and a privilege to be in your country, which I’ve been coming to my whole life,” says Barrymore to the circle of partygoers now gathered around her. Indeed, considering she began her acting career at the tender age of 3, the 39-year-old has definitely filmed her fair share of movies on Canadian soil over the course of her nearly four-decade career, thanks to the Hollywood appeal of our budget-friendly filming locations. “I’ve spent a lot of time here. As someone who grew up in Canada a lot, it’s all the more poetic and fitting that – after becoming a woman and a mother of two – I’m bringing this beauty company, Flower Beauty, here…I’m so excited.”
“I was a producer of movies, so I fell in love with the art of business and creative”
Although Canada often feels like an afterthought to celebrities whether they’re launching a new product line or promoting an artistic venture, Barrymore’s excitement feels genuine, in part because she truly has been coming to Canada long before the Toronto International Film Festival made it a necessary place for actors to hit the red carpet circuit in early September. Certainly her lifelong acting career has brought her from cities like Vancouver where she filmed The Amy Fisher Story to Montreal where she shot Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. But it’s likely her career as a producer, which she began in 1995 after founding her own production company, Flower Films, that’s introduced her as a business woman to the advantages of shooting in Canada. That’s why it’s not surprising that the actress-turned-producer also took the same approach to makeup, going from big-brand involvement to launching her own label. “I was a producer of movies, so I fell in love with the art of business and creative,” explains Barrymore, still holding her cocktail like it’s just a regular happy hour and not a corporate launch party packed with media. “That journey led me into working for P&G and being a co-creative director at CoverGirl for seven years. It was the best job a girl could have – thinking about how you could present makeup to women.”
After getting so involved in CoverGirl, eventually launching her own line made as much sense as producing a movie she could also star in a la Charlie’s Angels from both a financial and artistic point of view. “I definitely tried to go for the girl dancing in her closet approach, but a more glamourous version of that because we need aspiration, but I think we want attainability and relatability,” says Barrymore, who’s wearing light daytime-friendly makeup from her new line, which launched in the US earlier this year. “I don’t want to be made to feel that austere is where it’s at – perfection. I never related to that. I like joy and happiness and feeling like it’s an all-ages party, and everyone’s invited. That’s where we started Flower. That’s what the messaging is: ‘love the way you look.’ We tried to put all the money that we’d otherwise put into marketing and advertising into our formulas and deliver something that was different. Hopefully you can feel and experience that. We tried to mathematically create a company where you could have a lipstick that other people were charging $78.00 for – you should be able to get it for less, and women deserve that. It was our point of difference. At the end of the day, we just want tools in our arsenal that make us feel good about ourselves.”
“I’d been approached to do a celebrity fragrance for years, and I thought, ‘Oh God – what would that look like, and what would that smell like? No! I’m not fabulous and don’t see myself posing in some fabulous scenario'”
Barrymore just introduced three fragrances under the Flower umbrella in the US, which she’s also bringing to Canada with the launch of the entire line. “I’d been approached to do a celebrity fragrance for years, and I thought, ‘Oh God – what would that look like, and what would that smell like? No! I’m not fabulous and don’t see myself posing in some fabulous scenario. That’s not me at all. I’m not going to do that,’” jokes Barrymore. “Then, having a beauty company, doing fragrances felt so right and appropriate. We thought a lot about who this woman was because it wasn’t about the person selling it; it was about the woman buying it. We would sit around and look at these mood boards as women, and we started putting pictures up of mothers and their kids, women in the workplace, and date night. We started to fall in love with this woman and got excited by her because she felt like us. That’s what we were trying to do: be good to our kids, do something we could be proud of in our jobs, and go home and get back into that romance with our husbands where we started it all.”
Despite her high-profile romances with actors and musicians like The Strokes’ Fabrizio Moretti in the past, Barrymore wed Will Kopelman, an art consultant, in June of 2012. She had their first child, a daughter named Olive, in late September of the same year, followed by a second daughter, Frankie, just this past April. To be fair, the actress’ husband comes from a fairly high-profile family himself, being the son of former Chanel CEO Arie Kopelman. That said, his non-industry job certainly suits Barrymore’s desire to have her daughters grow up without Hollywood interfering with their childhood, as it did for Barrymore herself once upon a time. Despite being an in-demand Hollywood star, the actress has purposely cut back on film projects to just be a Mom these days, knowing that true fairy tales come from just being present for real life.
“That’s my daughter!” Drew points proudly at a campaign image for Flower Beauty hanging on the wall.”
“That’s my daughter!” Drew points proudly at a campaign image for Flower Beauty hanging on the wall. “And that’s my husband!” she says, pointing to another campaign shot, which features Barrymore with a very handsome man who isn’t Hollywood recognizable. Her cheeks suddenly have an extra hint of rosiness in them from naturally blushing. She’s clearly smitten with her family. When I take a photo with her at the end of the evening, I apologize for my greasy skin. It’s been a long day, and I meant to freshen up before coming to the event and meeting her but time got away. “Oh please – I’m a mother of two,” she jokes. “I know what that’s like.” She smiles for the photo booth-inspired camera, clearly not worried about taking a bad shot, and I can’t help but believe her.
If you’ve tried Flower Beauty, what are your favourite products from the line? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.