Who says you can’t have it all? Sexy model Camila Alves McConaughey swaps the Hollywood life for an extraordinary one to take charge of her career, health and family.
Asymmetrical gown with collar, $3,495, by Brandon Maxwell at net-a-porter.com
Strolling down the street shopping for organic produce, running errands and shuttling back and forth from the day’s activities, Camila Alves McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey and their three kids look like any typical Hollywood family. But there’s one catch—they’re not in Hollywood. On the day I speak with multi-hyphenate Alves— part model, entrepreneur, blogger, TV host, fashion and lifestyle expert, and mom—she’s at home in Austin, Texas, far away from red carpets and spotlights. “We love the city, and it’s a great combination for the kids because we are able to go about our day.” That’s of course when they’re home. “We’re on the road all the time. This year we’ve been on the road for nine months.” Next up? Miami, where hubby Matt is shooting his next film, The Beach Bum. Here we chat with the Brazilian bombshell about all things food, fashion and, most importantly, family.
Why did you move to Austin rather than places like Hollywood or New York City?
We didn’t really plan to move to Austin. We came and stayed with Matthew’s mom for a while, and she lives in a very calm neighborhood and we were able to get around and not be bothered. I remember just driving one day and I looked to Matt and I said, ‘You want to move back here, don’t you?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ So I said let’s do it. It was a really spontaneous thing. He has a lot of friends and family in Austin, so it makes perfect sense, but also the basic things: religion, sports and nice manners—things that Matthew and I were raised with. We were raised going to church every Sunday. He was raised saying, “yes, sir; yes, ma’am,” and I was the same way in Brazil. It really matched a lot of things we believe in, and the fundamentals are right and important for our family.
How do you juggle being a mom, wife, having a career and having a husband who travels?
Don’t let my calm spirit fool you. I still have my Brazilian feisty side of me. It’s the Latin in me. I left Brazil when I was 15. And when I got into the States, I was cleaning houses, I didn’t speak the language. I had to overcome a lot of barriers. Finally, when I did get settled, I started modeling and living all over the world for months at a time. What I learned in being in so many different cultures is understanding that nothing is really a big deal until it’s a really big deal. Real drama will come. That’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. Someone is going to get really sick. Somebody is going to die. Problems are going to happen; they’re out of our control, and that will be real drama. But the things that you do have control over, don’t make them a big deal. I don’t see myself as being a Zen person. I see myself as being adaptable. It’s a word that I like to use. I work hard. I have a lot of different assets of what I do for work. I take care of a husband who works all the time. We’re gone all the time. There’s a lot of logistics that need to be overseen and taken care of. So I think preparation is very important. And then surrounding yourself with good people who care and want to help.
“Don’t let my calm spirit fool you. I still have my Brazilian feisty side of me. It’s the Latin in me.”
When you first moved to America, you were cleaning houses?
I didn’t speak a word of English, and I came from Brazil, where you’re raised with someone working in your house that is coming in six days a week and is cooking, cleaning the house. It’s just part of the culture. But my dad always tells me, ‘You need to know how to take care of your own home because you can be the queen, but what if your help doesn’t show up? Then what are you going to do?’ The second thing that he always says is that ‘you should never marry, or be with a man for what he has, for his status and money, because then, to me, you are a high-class prostitute.’ So those two things will always be imbedded in my head. Growing up, I had to make my own way. It was not like I’m going to call Dad to pay the bills. That wasn’t part of the equation. I had to figure it out. I know how to take care of a house, so I started cleaning houses.
Double crepe jacket, $25,500, at chanel.com; black structured wool bandeau with gray French tulle gown, $2,500, at verawang.com. Silver pavé crystal dome drop earrings, $590, by Oscar de la Renta, Neiman Marcus, The Domain.
Are you at peace with where you are in your life now?
I’m the closest to what I’d like to be. I’m not there yet. When you’re coming from an industry where the way you look is very important, and when you shift to motherhood and you have three kids back to back to back, I wasn’t able to do what I needed to do to get to where I needed to. And on that path I tried so many different things that it just didn’t work. It took me a good minute to make peace with how I looked in the past and appreciate that. You get older, your body changes. You have kids, your body changes. And it took me to get to that mentality of ‘What’s my best self right now, with the life that I have now?’ It is very different than the life I had when I was single and I didn’t have kids. So I’m trying to be the best person I can be today. And then it took me to get pissed off, though, to make changes. It took me to look in the mirror and not recognize the person I saw, to go, ‘This is not me.’ I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t having much pride or liking the way I looked or feeling the way I’d like to feel. It took that moment for me to really make a big change, and then it took the commitment to get to a point where I felt so good, to then compromise the things that I was used to, the things that I kept saying yes to. I’m getting stronger. When people talk about body and weight, it’s more about how you feel than anything else, because you have people of all sizes and shapes and they’re happy with how they feel. They seem strong. They feel powerful.
You are a partner and chief brand director with Yummy Spoonfuls, healthy prepared foods for kids. How did that come about?
I have three kids, so I always make food for them. When I first had Levi, I wanted to do business with baby food because I saw how much work goes into it and how time-consuming it is. I remember picking up the phone and calling my agent, saying, ‘I want to do this.’ Then after I had my second child, I made the call again. Then I got pregnant again, so it kind of got pushed back and put on the back burner. But I remember when I had Livingston we were living in the middle of nowhere in Calgary, Canada, in a trailer. Matthew was shooting Interstellar, and it’s 3 in the morning, I’m sitting there with old bowls of baby food everywhere. The kitchen is a mess, dirty dishes all the way to the top of the sink. The baby’s about to wake up for the next feed. The other kids would be up at 6 in the morning, and I’ve got all three of them for the rest of the day. I was like, ‘I’m going to be up all night. This is crazy. Why is this so hard? Why is it so hard to go to a store, open the freezer door, and pick up the kids food?’ So I started to go on my journey. I met up with Agatha Achindu, who is actually the founder of Yummy Spoonfuls, and here we are.
“Nil Blanc” necklace from the “Les Voyages Extraordinaires” collection featuring diamonds, emeralds, multicolored sapphires and garnets set in 18K white gold, price upon request, and “Maelstrom” ring from the “Voyages Extraordinaires” collection featuring sapphires, emeralds and diamonds set in 18K white gold, price upon request, both, vancleefarpels.com.
How do you handle your marriage among other priorities?
You have to have that intentional time for your marriage. We are going to go out to dinner. We are going to get away. We are going to have adult time. My family, my husband and my kids, are priority number one, above anything that I do in my life. Period. And then I have my priorities after that. If I have my priorities straight, no matter how I go about my day, no matter how busy I am, then I’m going to find time to take care of it. I can be as busy as ever, but I want to make lunch for my husband, so I’ll wake up earlier to do that. Or Matt will say to me, ‘I need us to travel for work. Can we make some time here on this trip to have one-on-one time, or go have dinner?’ It’s easy to get the priorities mixed up as things get really busy. But even if you get off the road a little, you always come back on the right track. Sometimes it’s just a staycation, taking one night at a hotel that’s 15 minutes away from your house. But you pack a backpack. You go to dinner. You get to have talks and sleep in the next day. Walk around, have breakfast and lunch together.
“It took me a good minute to make peace with how I looked in the past and appreciate that.”
You recently became a U.S. citizen!
It was really important for me to hold an American passport. I’ve been in this country since I was 15 years old, and it’s where I have built my adult life and my family. The opportunities that this country has, and the people who are here in this country, have allowed me to become the person I am today. It’s an honor to sit here and say that I have a Brazilian passport and an American passport. I’m very proud of it. Even though I do give back to other countries and to my country of Brazil with a lot of charity work, our main focus is charity here in the United States, because this is home for us. Even though I was born and raised in Brazil, my family is still there, and that’s my home country—if you ask me, ‘Where is your home?’ I would say it’s here. It’s Texas, and I take pride in that.
Tell me about your and Matthew’s charity, Just Keep Livin Foundation.
We stage all kinds of fun stuff, after-school programs, and give the kids a safe place to go. They get to exercise. They get to learn nutrition on a budget. They have guest speakers from all walks of life because you never know what is going to spark a teenager to follow the right path. We do community service because we want to preach that we’re doing our part, so you need to do your part too and give back. We do a lot of community work, which is really neat to see because those teenagers are up at 4 or 5 in the morning on a Saturday to go do community service. They have so little in life, and in that moment are still able to give back. It makes them very proud and changes their perspective on what they can do. Those kids are going through tough times, coming out of gangs and neighborhoods where they don’t go outside because there are shootings. A lot of them are coming from single- parent households or only see their parents once a week because they are working day and night. It empowers them and they feel and see other kids going through the same thing. They are not alone. The main goal is to prevent. That’s the last time you can get those kids before they do wrong and go to jail and face consequences. jklivinfoundation.org
Styling by Jacqueline Zenere. Hair by Kristin Heitkotter using L’Oréal & Laced. Hair at TMG-LA Makeup by Meredith Baraf using Kevyn Aucoin at ba-reps.com. Manicure by Donna D using Tom Ford Nail Lacquer and Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil. Fashion assistance by Christina Grey. Location: A natural sanctuary located on NYC’s East River waterfront, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is a flagship property from the first mission-driven luxury hotel brand. Set in a 10-story building, the hotel offers 194 guest rooms and suites, a 24-hour Field House fitness center, a Bamford Spa, and Neighbors, a grab-and-go café with a menu of locally sourced and fresh fare. Additional amenities include an outdoor rooftop bar and lounge with a plunge pool, fire pits and unobstructed views, as well as access to a Tesla premium electric vehicle for complimentary rides within a three-mile radius of the hotel. 60 Furman St., Brooklyn, N.Y., 877.803.1111, 1hotels.com/brooklyn-bridge