Esteemed actress on the power of meditation and being a working mom
by Colleen Crivello
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Raised between NYC, London, Brazil and Panama, Jordana is a woman of the world! Therefore when a dear friend connected us, we instantly hit it off! Having co-starred in the Fast and Furious films, Jordana’s career in acting began in her teens, paused while she attended Yale (yes Yale, gorgeous and brilliant!) and has continued in full force ever since. On a recent trip to LA we stopped by Jordana’s house to play with her sons, chat about meditation, the Brazilian culture and what makes her feel sexy – join us! @jordanabrewster
Photos by: Vanessa Tierney
Where did you grow up? I was born in Panama because my dad was working there at the time. When I was two, we moved to London, followed by Rio for four years and finally landed in NY while I attended lower school/high school and then college in Connecticut. However, since I was 15 I would regularly fly to LA for castingsand agent meetings. At 23, after college, I moved to LA full-time.
Other than LA, what city feels like home? It’s weird now because it all feels so foreign to me, but the Brazilian culture doesn’t. I speak Portuguese all the time and eat Brazilian food but I haven’t been to Rio in a really long time. NY definitely still feels like home in a lot of ways. There’s also a lot of places that remind me of Rio, so that when I land it feels familiar – like New Orleans has that same energy, vibrancy, heat and people.
On teaching your kids a second language: I’m trying to teach my kids Portuguese, but have a hard time with the full emersion method. I walk a fine line of wanting them to learn but also not annoying them with the language. Our nanny is Brazilian and speaks to them throughout the day. Ultimately I think that it’s hard if you don’t live where the language is spoken in order to be truly fluent. I didn’t learn until I was 6 and we moved to Brazil. My older one knows some words but is definitely not fully speaking.
A love story: My mom is Brazilian, she was a model and my dad is American, was an investment banker – he liked to move and live in new places and so we did that. They have a beautiful love story and are still together. My mom’s father was the ambassador from Brazil to London and my dad’s father was the ambassador from the US to London. They met at the embassy, fell in love, took a leap of faith and got married a few months after they met – it’s been 38 years and they’re still so in love. They balance each other out really well.
On practicing meditation: I practice Vedic meditation which is through mantra – it’s supposed to be 20 minutes twice a day, but moms get a little bit of a break, I usually get one in a day. I’ve recently been using an app that really helps me called INSIGHT TIMER. If I miss my morning meditation than I’ll definitely get it in by evening – I never skip it. There’s a guided one for Vedic meditation that Charlie Knowles does with an intro and a conclusion – it’s voice prompted in the beginning which helps to put you in the right headspace and then you navigate your own meditation from there until the conclusion. There’s something also about having headphones in your ears that blocks the all the noise. Often times I’ll do it in my car – my belief is in order to make meditation a realistic part of life you have to be able to do it from anywhere, not just from some temple at home. Flexibility is key. I’ll pull over in my car, sunglasses on and eyes closed – you really only need a comfortable seat. It’s actually really hard to meditate at home for me with the kids – you start feeling guilty and get distracted and Julian will come over to me and tell me “Mommy, stop meditating” – whereas the car almost acts as a little cocoon.
How do you know when you’re actually meditating? To me it’s kind of like working out, where it’s about consistency and you just have to keep doing it. From time to time I’ll go to meetings, plus listen to recordings, depending on how out of sync my thoughts are. If I feel like I need more of an alignment, I’ll start listening to my books on tape that are a little more spiritual which helps me to recharge or recalibrate. When you’re in mediation you learn that thoughts like “Is this right? Am I doing this right?” is just a natural part of it. There’s a saying that you have to be the rocks and your thoughts are the water that glides over you. I used to give credence to every little thought that circulated my mind – it was exhausting. I’ve since learned through meditation to let the thoughts go. I’ve been practicing meditation for 7 years now and was introduced through a friend that swore it changed her life. It’s very similar to TM.
Inspired by: Now that I’m a mom, I would say the person who inspires me is my own mom! For so many years, I took for granted how difficult it is plus how patient and selfless you have to be. Once I become a parent, only then could I understand how difficult it all is because truth is we all have no idea what we’re doing. So, yes, I really respect her and the amazing job she did raising my sister and I. Furthermore, I choose to work but I really respect that she chose to give up her career to be a mom to my sister and I – she was a model, pre-kids with a degree in communications, she could have gone into advertising but decided not to.
The feminist debate: It’s about choice. Truth be told, it’s harder to be home raising the kids in my opinion than it is to be at work and I don’t think that there’s enough credit given to women that stay home to raise kids. Sometimes I go to work and it feels like a vacation between takes – I can read and eat in peace, etc.
Your Mom: She’s so chic and so on trend – I ask her for her opinion on my outfits all the time. She’s a wonderful resource and honest. As a teenager it was difficult because she was a model and there’s always been this focus on beauty which makes me happy to have boys and not to think about it as much. Growing up everyone would comment on how beautiful she was and I never really understood because to me she was just my mom but ultimately she was amazing. She was always giving me tips on beauty and fashion and being sensible and eating well and working out. I was sneaking into Equinox when I was 16 with her (you had to be 18 to go there) and we would do step class together. Good habits were embraced early on – she still looks amazing.
On meeting your husband: We met on the set of Chainsaw Massacre – very romantic, I know. It was a nice slow burn. It was actually the first time for me that it wasn’t this immediate thing, we were friends first and I think this has played a positive role in our 10 years together – will be 10 years in May! Friendship really set our foundation and we balance each other out really, really well. We moved in together after 3 months.
On how he proposed: We were living together already and I shopped for the ring with my mom and Andrew in NY – so in short, I knew it was coming. We booked a trip to San Isidro Ranch – which is so beautiful – for our one year anniversary and when we got to the ranch I kept micro managing the whole experience and basically told him where to propose – it’s a good analogy for how our marriage works as well. He’s much more laid back/chill and I’m not, hence why I chose the ring. In reality this makes so much sense as it’s a major purchase. I think women should have part in the selection. Why is it that men are supposed to know which ring we want – I mean, you’re planning a life together, how come the ring has to be their sole decision? I couldn’t let go of that control. I wasn’t sure which night the actual proposal would come, but knew it was coming. In the end, he did it in our room – it was a beautiful private moment.
Keeping the spark in a marriage post-kids: A lot of people tell me that you have to go away on trips – we haven’t done this yet without the kids, but it’s becoming a priority. When our baby nurse left, I was sleeping in Rowan’s room for almost 2 months and just recently came back to our bedroom. It’s really hard to keep a specific kind of connection – I think sometimes it can feel like you are co-heads of household rather than a couple. It’s funny, often times if you’re out to dinner with your spouse plus another couple and suddenly you hear him telling all of these stories and being so charming and you’re like, “Wait! Where’s that guy?” I’m sure he sometimes feels the same about me! I think as parent we have to remind ourselves to bring our best self when spending time with our spouse and not only talk about the kids. Also I try to remind myself that how I treat my husband becomes a model for how my children view marriage and perhaps the type of spouse they may choose – so it’s important from that perspective as well. I think in part my parents loving marriage contributed to the way I approach it.
Apps you swear by: WAZE – living in LA it’s a must because I used to be the nerd that would print out directions before going anywhere, so now to be able to do that digitally makes a huge difference. Oh and UBER! It’s a game changer.
Feel sexy: I equate feeling good with feeling sexy. Therefore when I’m on my A-game as far as being able to workout in the morning, eat well, treat my body well and drink a ton of water. It’s really about feeling good, which makes me feel confident and confidence is sexy – comes full circle.
Feel energized: Last night I didn’t sleep that well because Julian has the flu and he was in bed with us which left me exhausted today. I had the choice this morning to either reach for something with sugar in it or drink hot water with lemon – I did the latter. This seemingly little choice ultimately made me feel so much better and hydrated and focused. In thisparticular case, it helped me feel energized. Generally, running at 5:30 in the morning before the kids wakes up gives me so much energy plus meditation.
Each day: Starts with a run and ends with meditation. I also really love a really good show at the end of the day.
On getting your start in acting: I was going to Sacred Heart (NY High School) and a bunch of my friends were in this acting class that facilitated getting agents – which is how I got mine. One of my first auditions was for As The World Turns and I got on it with a three year contract. That’s when I really had to think about whether I wanted to do this as my career. I took the contract and was on the show for 4 years. By the time I was 18 I wanted to go to school but was caste in The Faculty and took a year off to do the mini series. After which, I went to Yale and studied English. I knew I would go back to acting, but I wanted a degree. A lot of people warned me that taking off from acting to go to school would slow me down and affect my career, but I didn’t listen because I didn’t want the type of career that only lasted a few years, I want/wanted one that had longevity and if going to college would affect that, then it wasn’t the right career for me.
If you could have one dinner guest…I would want to have dinner with my grandfather – he was the president and ambassador of Yale and he passed away when I was a kid. He was such an interesting guy and I’d love an opportunity to get to know him better.
Greatest Possession: Shocked that I’m having a hard time with this one because I consider myself pretty materialistic – one thing that I realized recently is that I need to start printing pictures now that everything is digitized. I need paper pictures of my babies!
Also, I have my grandmothers’s wedding band – the marriage didn’t last but I love that she gave it to me shortly before she passed away.