If I didn’t know better, I would think Drew Barrymore was campaigning for an Oscar right now. She is very present: Ellen, baby photos sold to PEOPLE, Oprah’s Next Chapter (which aired yesterday), and the Good Housekeeping February cover. This is a push usually reserved for a new movie, TV show, tell-all book, album… but for Drew, it’s for Barrymore Wines and her new make-up line with Walmart, Flower. There was a splashy party for Flower, Barrymore Wines was served, and Drew posed and chatted enthusiastically– the resulting media coverage was huge. So what happens when she has a movie? Is it the same promo schedule –or is that not part of the conversation anymore?
This time, Drew’s interview schedule seemed more selectively directed, not following the same media route that, say, a studio would set out for her for a film. She spoke with BeautyBlitz and told them, “They [Flower and Barrymore Wines] strangely intersected at the same time, and I was so torn because I really never put my name with things. I’m incredibly weary of celebrity culture. I’ve worked in this business for 35 years and I’m like, ‘No! I am not a celebrity! I’ll be anything but a celebrity! Call me a circus wrangler, just not a celebrity.’”
There is nothing more celebrity than using your name to brand and sell products. She was born into fame, she worked to keep it, and now she’s profiting off it. Why act like that’s shameful if it isn’t…? Or is it? Whatever your answer to that, it’s the truth: It’s impossible to separate Drew’s celebrity from her second career as product developer; the latter can’t exist without the former.
Would a regular Walmart make-up line be covered in Vogue, Fashionista, InStyle, Refinery29, Daily Mail, PEOPLE, and Style.com? This is coverage other new lines kill for, and all her publicist had to do was send out a press release and an invite highlighting that Drew would be at the party, and the media is THERE. No groveling required. Her fame/celebrity, whatever you want to call it, is the reason she has the cache to easily market pinot and lipstick.
And of course they want to cover her – everyone loves a comeback. I only caught a few minutes of the Oprah interview (I live in a house of tyranny with only one TV, and there was a hockey game on last night… so I lost), but Drew’s life is a big deal: born into a legendary acting family, shot her first commercial in 1976 (before she could speak), E.T., Carson, Studio 54, rehab at 13, memoirs at 14, emancipated at 15… but she managed to avoid becoming a crash-and-burn cautionary tale. Her gratefulness for coming out the other side is genuine; top it off with marriage and motherhood and of course everyone wants a piece of Drew. We are buying into her happiness and patented Drew-ness (not many actresses are recognizable enough to be parodied on SNL).
But the need to distinguish her brand from celebrity culture is also part of Drew’s Happily Ever After narrative; she doesn’t need celebrity because she finally has the family she always wanted. As she often says, this is her “real life” as opposed to her former life as a workaholic producer and actress.
This is where there’s a disconnect with all of them (Jennifer Aniston’s new hair care line Living Proof, Gwyneth’s GOOP, Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company) - they pretend their opinion and the story behind it would have the same gravitas without fame. It wouldn’t, not even close. Yet they dismiss their acting career as frivolous, but the creation of an anti-frizz serum/ lifestyle newsletter/eco-friendly diaper as their real calling.
Drew told BeautyBlitz, “I think I’m realizing that I love life so much that I have no interest in fantasy lately and I just want to do the thing I actually do in life and that’s drink wine and wear makeup.” So what is the fantasy? Fame? Producing? Acting? If she’s tired of that, I can understand her need for a break. She’s been working forever. But ultimately, Drew’s in the movie business, and it’s not a happy ending without an audience to applaud it -- that would be us. And if the most amazing time in her life coincides with two new products she needs to promote, the former bad girl’s redemption is all the more… useful.
The ones doing great work don’t seem to dismiss the frivolity of Hollywood in favour of the noble pursuit of product sponsorship (maybe because they inhabit a less frivolous space?) I don’t think Jessica Chastain or Naomi Watts would be so keen to say how silly acting is compared to developing a line of hair extensions.