Drew Barrymore Says "Not Staying Stuck" Is the Key to Her Evolving Career

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Elena Nicolaou
·6 min read
Drew Barrymore Says "Not Staying Stuck" Is the Key to Her Evolving Career
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Since her talk show launched in September 2020, Drew Barrymore has woken up at 4:30 in the morning, five days of the week. By the time the camera lands on her face at 9 a.m., EST, she’s beaming that instantly recognizable, infectious Drew smile, which hasn’t changed all that much since her role in E.T. in 1982.

Barrymore radiates joy for most of the hour—except for the times she’s crying (happy tears, of course). The waterworks were in full force during her weeklong birthday celebration in February, when Barrymore’s A-Lister friends surprised her and showered her in affirmations.

Originally branded as “optimism TV,” a trademark of The Drew Barrymore Show apart is the host’s seemingly constant expression of genuine warmth and connection. For those of us who have been following Barrymore’s career for decades, her time as an empress of daytime TV feels like a natural evolution of a life spent in the public eye.

Barrymore is no stranger to interview shows. Sewn together, Barrymore’s appearance on talk shows tell a story of their own. At 7, she was the precocious kid talking to Johnny Carson about her famous friendships with ease, and the youngest person to host Saturday Night Live. As a teenager, Barrymore was discussing her fraught relationship with her mother, who took her to clubs beginning at a young age, with Oprah. In 1995, when Barrymore was fully in her "wild child" phase, she was dancing on David Letterman’s desk.

Photo credit: Bravo - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bravo - Getty Images

But Barrymore’s is a story of resilience. In 1995, she founded her own production company, Flower Films, alongside Nancy Junoven, which produced career-defining hits like Never Been Kissed, Charlie’s Angels, 50 First Dates, and of course her own talk show. Once she became a mother, Barrymore says she rethought her career trajectory. “I took a real backseat with making films and television. I wanted to be a mom first,” tells Oprah Daily. According to Barrymore, the New York-based show offered a lifestyle that was “more conducive” to being with her two children, Olive, 8, and Frankie, 6.

For Barrymore, the talk show contains what she loves about show business and discards what she doesn’t. Namely, acting itself. “I found being an actor isolating and not enough of a community. I liked being a producer and part of the creative process more—a problem solver, not a helpless, tortured artist,” she says. “I didn’t want to be on movie sets for 18 hours a day pretending to be other people. But there’s so much of what I did that I love doing. I was like, ‘How do I incorporate this into the rest of my life?’” She says she didn’t want to “ditch her past,” but rather evolve, and this was the “perfect fit.”

In addition to being professionally fulfilling, The Drew Barrymore Show has symbolic significance, too. It’s only fitting that now, after years of late night show appearances, Barrymore is in the interviewer’s chair. Instead of being asked about her marriages and divorce, she’s interviewing her ex-husband Tom Green herself, after 15 years of not speaking. But most of the time, Barrymore is chatting with her friends. And in watching her, it’s hard not to think we’re her friends, too.

Below, Barrymore, who is also launching a lifestyle magazine, opens up about her current chapter—and how she got there.

You start every show with a smile. Where does your warmth come from?

I feel like I would be in a straightjacket if I couldn't be that way. This time has been so hard for everybody. I’m such a people person. I don’t know if you’re inherently born with it, but I know it is my truth. I love my job because of that. I started getting to talk and hang out with people at such a young age. It never felt abnormal to me. It never felt awkward. It never felt fraudulent. It always was, ‘I’m so glad that the person that I am gets to engage with other people all the time.’ Doing the opposite would be unnatural. Cutting off the communal, collective experience is the opposite of what I want.

You once said, “When you know you’re capable of change, there’s a sense of freedom.” You’ve gone through so many changes. What role has resilience played in your life?

I think that’s in everyone’s journey, to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes that feels insurmountable on certain days. But if you’re able to do it—even if you’re ugly crying through it—that’s wonderful. Not staying stuck is the most important thing to me. I hate feeling stuck. Human beings are resilient. We just keep moving forward. Sometimes I feel that we keep moving forward too fast. We don’t stay stuck. That’s the thing I held onto the most when the pandemic started. That character trait would get us through this.

Do you consider yourself a particularly strong person?

It’s hard to see yourself. I try so hard to stay out of ego. That cuts off objectivity and perception sometimes. I would like to be. I favor resiliency over weakness—but that doesn’t mean I don't feel weak or have weak moments. It's like depression over happiness. Sometimes I feel depressed, but I know I can’t stay there. It’s not my zone.

Your show is a place of positivity and good news. Has that impacted your own mood?

Thank you for saying that. When I did my pilot for the show a year-and-a-half ago, the Drews News segment was the biggest deal for me. It was my way to bring in that good stuff that’s happening in the world. It’s a mechanism to get the information to people that life is functioning; there are good people out there. Let’s know this today to get ourselves through the day. Sometimes we need to be reminded why being resilient is worth it. It can test you. I want the antidote—but that doesn’t mean blind optimism. That, I grew out of. I’m 46. Saying, ‘It’s all good…’—well, it’s not “all good.” It can’t always be “all good.” That’s not how it works.

But how we cultivate, find, and prove there’s good out there is a daily excavation. Why is it so hard to find the good news? Why is the news focused on what’s dysfunctional? It’s our civic duty to know about everything that’s happening. But why are we not given the gift of the balance?

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