First and foremost, you have the most wonderful, incredible skin. How do you care for it? Do you have a strict routine?
"Well, there are things outside of products that contribute to the appearance of your skin, and the biggest thing is sleep — I always try to get eight hours, no matter what I'm doing. You need to let your body repair itself. I also drink a gallon of water a day, and I try to eat really healthy.
In terms of my actual skin-care routine, I've been lucky enough to work with Neutrogena for more than a decade, and it's been great. It used to be about their products containing salicylic acid to treat my breakouts, but now I'm all about retinol, which is in their Rapid Tone Repair line. I hate to use the word 'miracle' when talking about skin care — but I've really seen a difference. I'm a little bit obsessed with skin care, and I notice every detail, so I've really noticed the changes."
Are you really into sunscreen as well?
"Oh, I use major sunscreen, and that's another thing that's made a huge difference in my skin. A lot of my girlfriends were sun-worshippers, and they really do look 20 years older than they are.
I used to think that I didn't need sunscreen — the whole 'black people don't get sunburned' thing — but I woke up one day and realized that the sun can really cause major damage, and since then, I've been like 'the sun causes melanoma, you jackass!'"
How has your approach to beauty changed over the course of your long (and very successful) career?
"When I was first starting out and got my hair and makeup done for events, I wanted to look like Tina Turner or Janet Jackson — I associated glamour with wearing a ton of makeup. But, I realized later, a lot of makeup can actually make you look older than you are! Also, I finally saw Janet Jackson in person once at an audition, and it made me realize that I shouldn't be trying to look like someone else — there's only one Janet Jackson! If you're trying to look like someone else all of the time, you're never able to develop your own style."
We're both surprised and delighted that, as a celebrity, you've been willing to share pictures of yourself without makeup. What motivated you to be so open?
"Honestly, I think that being the face of Neutrogena for so long has made me feel really comfortable just embracing how I look, because the brand is all about having healthy skin and not hiding behind a mask. So, when I'm sharing these photos of myself, I feel like I'm sharing the real me and being true to the brand. At this point, I actually feel more insecure with a full face of makeup, because it just feels like I'm trying to be someone else — and I'm really happy being me."
You recently went back to brunette after being a blonde for a short time. What was your experience with light hair? What made you switch back?
"I went blonde for a movie role, and I really felt like a different person — it was fun, and everyone freaked out over it! But, once the movie production ended, I was over it. I just wanted to look like me again."
How do you stay in shape? Are you strict about living a healthy lifestyle, or more laissez-faire about the whole thing? Are there any special diet considerations you stick to?
"Well, I'm generally pretty healthy, but I went to Italy twice in the past month, and it was all about the prosecco and the pasta! But, now I'm recommitting to eating clean.
It's really tough to stay on track when I'm really busy, and I'm doing the cooking and shopping, which is most of the time. Something I've learned the hard way: Don't go to the grocery store when you're hungry! Another tip is to plan in advance. This Monday, I made meals for the week and portioned everything out into Tupperwares — so everything's done, and I don't have to think about it!"
How do you keep such a close eye on your weight while also maintaing a healthy body image (and your sanity) in such a tough industry?
"You know, there's a term in the industry called your 'fighting weight,' so the goal is to just stay within shooting distance of that number. I eventually learned what it takes to get into 'work mode' quickly — and, if I've been staying within that range, it really isn't anything crazy, just cutting back on the calories a bit and staying on the treadmill a little longer."
What's the best beauty advice you've ever gotten?
"My mom always told me not go to sleep with my makeup on, but not because it clogs your pores — because, she said, the next day I'd look like a whore! Later, I realized that this is obviously not true, but now I do wash my makeup off religiously — if only to save my nice sheets!"