Elizabeth Banks is celebrating a milestone birthday on Saturday: the big 5-0. Speaking to Yahoo Life just days before turning 50, the actress and director says she's feeling "the most powerful I have ever felt."
It's an outlook that the The Hunger Games star credits to wisdom she's gained over the years and the practice she's had in letting go of things that don't serve her. "In your 20s, you're in the process of letting go of your childhood and your dependence on other people, like your parents and your bosses," Banks explains. "I think in your 30s, many people make really big life decisions that have huge consequences. So you're constantly worried about buying that house, that car, having that baby, marrying that person. You're making those decisions that really affect everything else in your life. So that's a really consequential decade for a lot of people. Then I think in your 40s, you really do start to settle in."
Banks's 40s symbolized a shift in both her personal and public life. It was a decade, she says, during which she focused on moving on from the expectations that she had for herself. Part of that meant turning to directing feature films, not just starring in them. "I think Cocaine Bear was such a surprise," she says of the horror-comedy she directed last year. "It was such a reset for me in so many ways."
Over the years, she's also learned to tune out other people's opinions. One lesson she's learned about aging in Hollywood is "you can't win."
"I’m aging in the public eye," Banks says. "And so I just can't allow everybody's opinions or ideas about what I am or I'm not doing to infect me. I just have to do what makes the most sense for me, what feels right to me and what gives me the confidence to go out there. ... I absolutely need to let go of what other people think and really focus on what makes me feel good or bad."
As of now, that's meant creating self-care rituals out of simple beauty and skin care routines. She even partnered up with No7 Beauty Company to spread the word about the products she finds reliable and accessible like the Future Renew Day Cream with SPF. For now, her beauty secret is simple: "Wash your face, do the routine, pay attention to yourself," she says. But she's realistic about the possibility of doing more in the future.
"I like to say that I haven't really played with my face, yet. You know, yet, like, I'm always checking in. It's going to be a constant discussion with myself figuring out what matters to me, what can I let go of and what actually makes me feel bad about myself? I don't want to feel that way," says Banks.
A big reason she feels comfortable in taking time with those decisions is her family, which she credits for grounding her and giving her perspective.
"With beauty, it’s not something that my family talks about that much. My mom would, like, use Ivory soap and never wears makeup. So we are literally 180 degrees apart. ... And my sisters are both incredibly natural beauties. They wear sunscreen and like, not much else," she says. "Nobody has the focus on this in their life that I do, because I work in the industry that I work in. And that's what I'm constantly reminding myself of. This is something that is prominent, exactly where I live, which is in the beauty, wellness, acting, Hollywood industry and it's not something that everybody talks about or deals with. Like, people have actual real problems."
Being a mom to two boys with her husband Max Handelman has also given her a sense of responsibility. "I do always think about the example that I am setting, especially as I have my younger kids," she says. "What are the values that I want to pass down? What do I want to project? I think confidence and gracefully aging is a huge one for me. It’s just something that I know matters to me."
And luckily, knowing who she is and what her priorities are is a gift she's gotten from age. "I have the resources now to really focus on what I want to be doing and time with my family and work that matters to me. So it's very exciting," she says.
Still, there's always space for spontaneity in this new decade. "I'm trying to break out of anyone's expectations of me, even my own," she says. "I'm trying to surprise myself."