As voluptuous Joan Holloway on ‘Mad Men,’ Hendricks embodies calm professionalism. But how does she stay self-assured in the face of constant Hollywood scrutiny? Turns out it’s a mix of Indian food, salsa lessons, and a simple childhood lesson she learned from her mother.
As a child growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho, Christina Hendricks knew of at least one four-letter “F” word that was off-limits. (No, not that one.)
Raised in an extremely supportive home, Hendricks knew not to utter the word “fail.” The actress, who most notably plays sassy, sexy secretary Joan Harris (née Holloway) on AMC’s hit drama Mad Men, says that her parents instilled in her and her brother a fearless attitude and an open mind.
“My mom never thought there was anything we couldn’t do. If we wanted to do it, she’d say, ‘Well, let’s figure out how to do that,’ whether it was dance or theater,” Hendricks says. If an experience didn’t turn out as successfully as her kids hoped, Mama Hendricks would spin it as a lesson to learn from — instead of a failure to dwell on.
Hendricks, who has teamed up with the maker of the eyelash-lengthening drug Latisse to help raise donations for the Make-a-Wish Foundation through LatisseWishesChallenge.com, believes that her mom’s can-do spirit helped build her own red-carpet confidence today. And she wishes more women would adopt such an outlook in their own lives — and maybe even take a cue from the one and only Ms. Holloway.
“Joan is an inspirational character,” Hendricks says. “People are really supportive of her, I think, because she’s sort of a survivor. She gets knocked down and she gets right back up again.”
But lest you think Hendricks has it all figured out, she’s the first to admit her health and happiness are always works in progress. “I’m constantly trying to learn how to be healthier and take tips from people,” she says. “You have to remind yourself all the time.” Here’s some of the best advice she’s taken to heart:
- Exercise with a buddy. Although Hendricks says that she’s not a gym rat at heart, scheduling training sessions with her husband, actor Geoffrey Arend, provides good incentive. “We try to work out together because it makes it so much more fun — and it makes the time go by quickly,” she says.
- Get comfortable in the kitchen. “I love food, and I love to cook,” she unabashedly admits. “One of my favorite meals is Indian food. It’s a bit more time-consuming because you have to roast the spices, but it makes your house smell heavenly.” But when it’s time for comfort food, she digs into spaghetti and red sauce. “It’s always comforting to me. It’s simple and you know what you’re getting,” she says.
- Break out of your workout rut. “I’m really into my Bosu ball right now. They’re kind of fun,” she says. Hendricks credits her dancing background for her natural ability on the ball. “I have good balance, so I feel like I’m good at it,” she says. Hendricks also keeps kettlebells around her house so she can squeeze in a strength workout when she has time. “I keep [them] right next to the bed, so I can run my bath water, do a set, and then do something else, and then come back and do another set,” she says.
- Save your face. Hendricks’ glowy porcelain skin is every bit as enviable up close as it is on screen, but the actress works hard to take good care of her creamy complexion. “I wear sunscreen every day,” she says. “I’m conscientious, but I’m not paranoid about it. If I sit by a pool, I’ll wear a sunhat.” She also keeps a regular skincare routine and uses Shu Uemura cleansing oil (“It doesn’t dry me out.”) and Remède facial moisturizer.
- Dance every day. After singing and dancing for her role in the musical Company at New York City’s Lincoln Center this past spring, Hendricks has been trying to keep her love of dancing front and center. “It’s an excellent way for me to exercise and not even know that I am,” she says. Hendricks and Arend recently began taking salsa lessons — and they also love having a good old-fashioned dance party in their house. Among her favorites to groove to right now are Arcade Fire’s latest album, The Suburbs, and Florence and the Machine’s Lungs.
- Have self check-in’s. As a true believer in moderation in everything — from food to fitness to shopping — Hendricks says that maintaining her health really comes down to self-awareness. “We’re all really busy people and it’s hard sometimes to eat the right foods or drink the right thing or put the sunscreen on,” she explains. “We just have to constantly check in and gauge and moderate ourselves.”