Known for her TV roles as mysterious spy Nina Krilova in FX’s The Americans and currently as security officer Jennifer “Huck” Mallick in AMC’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Annet Mahendru is about to cross a new threshold on the big screen this fall via the coming-of-age drama, Manifest West. Mahendru recently sat down with us to share what it’s like working with her husband, his brother, their dad (a guy name Mel Gibson) and all the beauty rituals that she swears by.
What has been your hardest role to date?
Playing the timeless Virgin Mary in Rosalind Rose’s Father Stu has been revelational. Tapping into such unconditional love and suffering has moved mountains for me as an artist and mother. In the film, Mark Wahlberg so honorably portrays a real-life boxer who after life’s tumultuous trials and errors becomes a priest. I was pregnant at the time of shooting, so it felt even more real and urgent for me to save my ‘son.’ I didn’t know grace until I studied Mary’s character and learned the true definition of sacrifice of an earthly mother.
What are some stand-out beauty moments from any of your projects that stick out to you?
The hardest looks are the most natural ones, in my opinion. My favorite beauty moments can be witnessed in Manifest West, my new film about a family moving off the grid in hope to be autonomous. I have collaborated on it with my husband writer/director, Louie Gibson—and nobody knows me better than him. He, ironically, has always said I looked more masculine with too much makeup on. So, our hair and makeup artist, Michelle Sfarzo, and I made sure to keep it real! The scenes where my character, Alice Hayes, goes through great hardship are reminiscent of the shadows during very sunny forest days. We shot in nature and just really mirrored it at its best and worst. It was a poetically honest experience.
What are some of your current beauty-wellness favorites?
My skin is sensible and loves to feel non-synthetic fabrics, warmth, moisture, humidity, and the occasional extremes of saunas and ice-cold plunges. Products that complement the weather are my go-tos. I grew up on Clinique and still use the Moisture Surge ($27) on set that dabs so well on top of make-up. La Mer has a nice array of moisturizers depending on what your skin is up to. There’s a matte lotion which I like for photoshoots. I also like to switch up my skin-care routines often, try something new and yummy. Imagine eating the same thing every day!
You grew up in a very multicultural family—any beauty rituals that have been passed down to you?
Pooja is a beautiful Hindu ritual. It is honoring what is in front of you with the elements. You don’t even need the tray, candles and marigolds. You can just cup your hands around the face you love. Lifting your spirit means waking your power. When the light is bright within, it naturally illuminates everything without! Oh, massaging oil into the hair and scalp has been a really cute tradition my dad established for my mom, my sister and me. First of all, it is incredibly relaxing! But it also promotes hair growth and vitality, and it makes for darling family time.
What are you excited about this fall?
I am excited to watch the trees go barren and unfold the vistas otherwise covered by the lush greens. But I am mostly feeling celebratory of Manifest West coming to theaters and video-on-demand on November 11. It’s a true family project my husband, Louie Gibson, his brother, Milo Gibson, and I filmed with some great folks locally about a broken family fighting so hard to stay together. Afghanistan and Ukraine are in my prayers among many, many other trapped countries. I hope that everyone can at least find some inspiration in all this turmoil to preserve and repair the sacredness of the family unit.
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