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Drew Barrymore: 'Capable women inspire me'

Wednesday, July 29, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Actress and activist Drew Barrymore shared her thoughts on creative disruption
opening night of the NEW Executive Leaders Forum 2015.

 "Everything that happens along the way, you can make them your weaknesses or your strengths, your humility or your bitterness,” award-winning actress, producer, author and entrepreneur Drew Barrymore told more than 300 industry leaders at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 28, 2015 at the Terranea Resort outside Los Angeles.

Barrymore, who was interviewed by NEW Forum Co-Chair Carmen Bauza of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said her confidence comes from women who have inspired her. "All my fears have been shushed by being drawn to capable women and putting myself with them.”

The actress, who started her film career at age six in "ET: The Extraterrestrial,” said the role, which she wanted and fought to do, was a big "disrupter” in her life. "It created a pathway of doors that I could shut at times, as I found my way as a human being, and a pathway to empower myself and rebuild doors and change the shape of the doors and invent new doors.”

Bad Girls

Another transformative experience came much later in her life, when she starred in the 1994 film "Bad Girls,” which she calls "a western chick flick.” Barrymore said acting in the film was a "revelation” that spurred her to want to make movies "where girls get to do wonderful things, but be a girl and have each other’s back.” In response, she started her successful production company, Flower Films.

The actress said Steven Spielberg, her godfather, advised her to "be smart” and not take every commercial or other deal that came her way. She turned down the opportunity to sign a lucrative contract with Cover Girl, until 2007 when the company offered her the opportunity to be co-creative director of the campaign, with input on marketing and other creative control. "I said, ‘Yes. Now this is fun.’ That was another big disruption in my life. Because I was so inspired and learned so much.”

When that contract came to an end, Bauza offered her the opportunity to develop a line of beauty products that were as high-quality as those found in department stores, at mass market prices. In response, she founded Flower Beauty, which has grown to more than 150 SKUs of beauty items and fragrances. She also partnered with Walmart recently on eyewear. "The opportunity to bridge the discrepancy, to offer the quality of prestige products in a mass market, made me happy. I am not a fancy pants. I like an all-age party, an all-economics party. I like the idea we can ingratiate each other and make each other feel we all belong.”

The mother of two girls, Barrymore spoke about work/life integration, saying she "does her best with the thing in front of her” and then moves on to the next thing. "I start to think I’m compartmentalizing really well, then everything is reshuffled into a bad deck,” she said. "Whenever I go away from my kids, I feel terrible and guilt is like a hamster wheel from hell. Then I spend so much time with them I realize I haven’t done any work for three days and seesaw back. The system is ever-changing. Doing your best is a bizarre, malleable, funny thing.”

While being criticized for saying it, Barrymore said she believes "you can do some things at the same time – but can you do it all in the same moment? No. You can’t do everything every second. I really believe in Pippi Longstocking — you can lift a horse if you want to. You can do anything. We are all capable of endless dreams and possibilities.”


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