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When Connie Britton first adopted her son, Yoby, five years ago, she said that she went for two years without looking in the mirror at home — simply because her no-frills life didn’t allow time for vanity. That still holds true, just to a lesser extent. “Now, I do realize that days go by and I just haven’t even looked at myself,” she tells Yahoo Style. “When you first have a kid, your life is completely engulfed by this other life, to the point of where you don’t have a sense of what you look like.”
Britton, who turned 50 this year, says she’s a proponent of genuinely exploring what it means to age gracefully, as opposed to embracing scalpels and fillers to halt the onset of laugh lines. To her, advocating for multidimensional roles for women of all ages, while then trying to artificially turn back the clock, feels fake.
“I’ve never really been a big supporter of — for me — doing work to your face. It’s something I feel pretty strongly about for myself. I don’t judge other people for it. But part of that is because I’ve worked really hard to portray strong women and real women and, particularly in my 40s, women who have reached the age of 40 and are vibrant and sexy. It does feel a little bit to me that to start doing things to my face would then assume that you can be a strong woman but you need to look like a younger woman. It doesn’t quite work with my vision of myself,” she says.
Speaking of work, Britton has no plans to retire. She’s co-starring in the fall biopic Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, about the creator of the iconic superhero now blowing up in theaters. Britton welcomed her milestone birthday on Instagram and is now reaping the professional payoff of making smart choices. “So far, so great,” she says. “It’s a very big transitional time, with the end of Nashville. Ever since I adopted my son five years ago and moved to Nashville, my life has been on this very fast-moving train. It feels like the end of an era and the beginning of a new period in my life.”
Fans continue to adore Britton for two very notable roles. She played one of TV’s most beloved and well-rounded characters on Friday Night Lights. And she delivered one of the most memorable swan songs ever, on the country music soap Nashville, when her character, Rayna James, died after being injured in a car crash.
On both shows, Britton went to great lengths to make sure that the women she portrayed weren’t bland, boring caricatures or arm candy. On Lights, she made sure that her Tami Taylor had a job and was always on equal footing with her football coach husband (Kyle Chandler). And on Nashville, yes, her character could be spectacularly petty and insecure, but she also knew the power of her own voice and loved her family. And that’s paid off, because Britton says she’s now reading scripts that center around “quintessentially strong women who are strong in specific ways.”
Case in point is her latest project, the squirmy comedy Beatriz at Dinner, which opens this weekend. Britton’s perfectly coiffed hostess wants to throw the perfect dinner party — but is derailed by the antics of a blowhard (John Lithgow) who has garnered comparisons to Donald Trump. He insults a woman of color (Salma Hayek), assuming she’s illegal and the help. He values profit above much of anything else. And he’s got his foot permanently stuck in his mouth. The film was shot two years before the election, says Britton, and any comparisons to Trump are accidental at best. “The movie now really packs a punch,” she says. “Mission accomplished. It means you’re watching something where these characters are hitting a nerve.”
For Britton, the one topic always off-limits at a convivial gathering: “Politics. There are absolutely dinners that I go to where I say to myself before I get there that we will not bring up anything related to politics. Good topics are clothes, travel, crazy things your kids do. You can talk about that for a very long time.”
Her own character is very specific, as opposed to a caricature of a pampered hostess, glammed up to the hilt. She wears one dress throughout the film, a pretty, flowery number that’s understated but also screams money. “We didn’t want anything to be over the top,” says Britton. “This is how a woman would dress if she’s having a nice party at her house.”
A post shared by connie britton (@conniebritton) on Mar 6, 2017 at 4:29pm PST
In her real life, Britton tends to go “for things that excite me.” She loves color and says she comes from the Patricia Field school of fashion. The two worked together on the ABC sitcom Spin City, and Britton remains enamored of the legendary costume designer’s penchant for bold, unexpected twists and pairings.
“What’s stuck with me is being brave and courageous about fashion and color,” says Britton, who goes for bright hues whenever possible. “I continue with that tradition. I am not a flamboyant dresser, but I like to take a traditional look and give it a spin.”
In general, her attitude toward the external seems to be playful and relaxed. There hasn’t been any kind of peer-approved scientific study done, but unofficially, Britton may have the shiniest and most admired hair in Hollywood — so much so that it has its own Twitter account, which is not owned or operated by the actress. She finds the whole thing hilarious.
“I started hearing all these things, and you can trust me when I say that this is not something I ever perpetuated,” she says. “There is no secret. It would be really fun if I could make up a secret. I have fabulous people who help me look good. I got lucky in the hair and nails department. I have a lot of hair.”
On this afternoon, she just wants to pull it back and head home to her son, whom she hasn’t seen because of work. Like most parents, Britton is raising a picky eater (who loves pasta and French fries) and jokes that she tries to force-feed her son all the time, “to the point that now, I think it’s become a game.”
She’s excited because, she says, for the first time since becoming a parent, she’s not tied to a specific show — in her case, Nashville — and can make choices based entirely on her family’s wants and needs. “It feels like the end of an era in some ways and the beginning of a new period in my life,” she says. “Fifty is looking like a very empty canvas. It’s exciting and feels like a new life in a way. Even though I’m very tired in it.”
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