At the Malibu Playground with Mariel Hemingway + Langley Fox
Mariel Hemingway + Langley Fox
I pulled up to Mariel Hemingway's Malibu home early on a Monday morning in March. Her daughter Langley and I have been friends for years and I had spent some time with Mariel on several occasions. I knew that her home would be an experience but I really didn’t know how, exactly. For starters, I could see the giant hand painted teepee as my car drove up the mountain towards her home. A long winding dirt road took me to what I will now refer to as the "Malibu Playground". I was immediately greeted by Mow, the all white cat with sea green eyes. Langley gave me a brief tour and then I took a turn on the "rings" which hung in the archway that leads from the kitchen into the living room. The house was filled with warmth, wood and every shade of blue. Plants filled the home and I felt as if I was living inside of a mountain-greenhouse-cabin-getaway. Outside there were views of the mountains and the serenity started to kicked in. We spent the afternoon taking photos, chatting, and playing with the many animals (Mariel has 2 cats and 3 dogs, Langley brought her Husky, Zep). Dree, Mariel's other daughter was working and couldn’t join us but I could only imagine what the giggling sessions would have been like if she were there. We were basically the audience to the most hilarious and kind of adorable comedy act between mother and daughter. Langley and Mariel are friends. They tease each other, make fun, laugh at one another, but you see how they also deeply adore one another. I think it is every mother's dream to grow to be friends with their child. After our shoot, Mariel and I sat in the bay widow of her home office and chatted about what her life started to become as she began to take on the role as "Mom".
Q: What was life like bringing up 2 young girls while balancing your career as a young Actress vs. being a Mother to Dree and Langley now?
A: I think because of where I came from and because I was a little OCD, I was on top of it but in a little obsessive way! I think because I hadn’t started the journey of looking inward, I liked being too busy, I liked having too much to do. I liked the idea of having to go to work. You get an adrenaline rush of just having to do too much. I think as women, we kind of feed off that energy of IM OVERWHELMED, but I’m okay. Over the years, I sort of learned that that shifts. I loved being a mother and I love being a mother now. What happens now is classic. You become friends with your children as they become mature adults. They are fascinating and their perception of the world is extraordinary and enlightening. You learn so much because as you get older, you tend to put yourself in the world you want to be in and they’re still in the world that takes them outside themselves. When they come back with new experiences you’re like Oh WOW, THAT'S GOING ON? And the way they see the world is just different from you. It makes that combination of friendship and being a mother special.
Q: Did you take a break from working while you were raising Dree and Langley?
A: Dree came first and Langley arrived 22 months later. I made about a movie a year but I pretty much wanted to be Mom. There was a good chunk of time where I didn’t really work very much at all. I felt that was valuable to stay at home and do the small things around their life, like make lunch, fold their laundry, etc. It’s great for them and even if they don’t remember it, its engrained in them. I felt it was those little things that show them you’re there. And they of course will go off and rebel, and they have to, it’s their job to push away and crack open and say things where you think, Wow, I never thought that face could say those things. Because of that there is so much love when it comes full circle. They can do it because they know they’re safe. They know they are never NOT going to be loved. It’s an amazing journey and it teaches you about yourself and what you can handle.
Q: Most people may know you as an actress, can you tell me what you are doing with your career today?
A: While I am still an actress and periodically do movies and TV, I have focused my life and career more on mental and physical health. Through my journey of self-awareness, I had to excavate my history, and my past and genetics to get to a place where I felt comfortable in my own skin. This journey is different for everybody. Because I found a way or a methodology that worked for me, I am now able to speak all over the country and internationally, about mental health, physical health and well being…. mindfulness. I’m at this place in my life right now, where I’m going inside and outside of myself and sharing that with people. Not because I think my story is so great but because I am able. What I’ve realized, is that because I know how to tell my story and because I have done that excavation into my past, physical, mental, emotional, all that stuff, I know that there’s nothing scary in it, in fact there is something so freeing about telling your story. And the more you tell it, the irony is the more it becomes a story and the less you’re defined by where you come from.
Q: Hemingway is a powerful name in history. What is your heritage and lineage?
A: My grandfather is Earnest Hemingway. I come from a long line of incredible creatives. The reason why that heritage is mixed with darkness is because there were a lot of suicides and a lot of addiction in the family. I think having done my homework on that family, I realized that the addiction comes from not wanting to look at themselves. I think once you understand your history and your genetics, it gives you a great deal of compassion and you can then inspire others to understand who they are and where they come from.
Q: Your girls are now grown women, each with independent careers. Dree, 29, is an actress and a model and Langley, 27, is an Artist and a Model. Do you have things that you do together that bring you back to a place where you can connect?
A: The biggest thing that we rely on is this home. My house is homey. It’s not a fancy house. It’s a very lived in home and I think they know they can always be here. Dree often comes over and Langley will come over whether I’m here or not. Even if I’m not here and she’s here, knowing that her energy is in the house is great. The other place that we all congregate a couple of times a year is in Idaho. Idaho is where I grew up and where they spent a lot of their childhood. It is heaven. Langley is a real mountain girl and takes after me in that regard. Both girls love it so much. We often find that we are there at the same time and just basically hang out together, with nature, which I think is the greatest thing ever. It’s really kind of the heart of our family and it brings us all together.
Q: How do you achieve balance in your life?
A: I think balance is just something that is an everyday process. (Funnily enough, my first book was called, “Finding My Balance”) You’re always kind of teetering on stuff and sometimes you feel really solid. Balance is really about what you are doing in every aspect of your life. How do you eat? How do you wake up in the morning? Do you take time to be still? Do you take time to be in nature? It just all goes into the pot and some days you feel incredibly balanced and incredibly vibrant and other days you find that you’re a little bit off kilter and that’s also good. I think balance is when you start to embrace that whatever is going on in your life, is exactly what it is supposed to be. We are meant to experience what we are experiencing in the moment.
Thank you Mariel + Langley!