I shouldn't say this, because, I’ll get in trouble for it, but I’ll say it anyway,” Drew Barrymore says, leaning in, all intimate eyes and a half smile, because that’s the way she talks and it takes her zero minutes to warm up to someone new. Here it comes: “Women can’t do it all.”
She’s tiptoeing, because about two years ago she caught flak for making the same statement, the way anyone catches flak after suggesting anything about women’s capacity for getting things done. We have all lived long enough to see women get into trouble for saying they can have it all, or they can’t, or they should want it all, or they should opt out, and then the resulting think pieces about whoever said it and why it shouldn’t have been said. But the thing that strikes me as most ironic about Barrymore saying it is that it seems as if she has, in fact, at some point in her life, done it all. And from where I’m sitting, which is across from her as she introduces me to three new fragrances for her cosmetics line, Flower Beauty, it seems that she continues to do it all. The first lesson we could learn from Drew Barrymore is that if she thinks she’s not doing it all when she actually is, perhaps we who think we’re not doing it all are, too.
Still, she insists, “Quantum physics actually says you can’t do it all. Like, you can’t do everything at every minute of every day; it’s actually not mathematically, molecularly plausible.” However, she clarifies, “I do think that women can do everything they want to do”—a careful distinction, since she believes that from your passion comes your calling—“especially if they work hard enough at it. I don’t believe anything comes easy. You have to earn everything in life.”
She would know. Barrymore is someone who has invented herself into more incarnations than her petite, just-turned-40-year-old body should be able to account for. She is someone who published a memoir at age 15, a bulky volume that merited its length: hard drugs before she had pubic hair, rehab, an absentee mother, and an abusive father who probably should have been rounded up in a social services van by the end of chapter 1. In addition to having been an actual, not-just-listed-on-the-credit-sheet producer of movies like Charlie’s Angels and Donnie Darko, she has spent time as a winemaker, an author (last year she published a best seller about hearts—yes, hearts; yes, a best seller) and, of course, an actress. Today she emerges in her latest form: as a cosmetics mogul who is intensely involved in every aspect of her company. She is confident in her ability to pivot, which she does by rising above the emotions we’re all susceptible to: self-doubt, feelings of being overwhelmed and excessive concerns about what other people think of us.
Barrymore—can I just call her Drew? Because I sort of want to, even though More thinks Barrymore is more journalistic—Drew feels like someone you’ve known your whole life, and that, she says, is “probably because you have known me.” We are in one of the glass-walled lab rooms of Givaudan in New York, where the perfumes for Flower were formulated. She has just made a video for Flower’s website, walking the consumer through the three fragrances the brand offers: Sultry, Cherished and Radiant. This online video is the only advertising Flower will do for the fragrances—never anything as traditional as a print ad. The company knows Drew is the selling point, so it’s reaching out directly to her already prodigious fan base: more than two million on Facebook, more than 1.5 million on Instagram. Oh, and Flower is sold exclusively at Walmart, where nearly one third of Americans shop every week, and that doesn’t hurt either—especially given that over the past year Walmart has nearly doubled the number of stores that sell Flower.