Actress Deborah Ann Woll

We sat down with Deborah Ann Woll – the red-headed beauty we loved in True Blood, who currently stars in Netflix’s Daredevil – recently to discuss everything from restaurants to road trips. The actress told us about her love for tea (which she believes should be considered a food), her affinity for weightlifting, and her dog Banner, who happens to be a very well traveled two-year-old canine. Read through as Woll insightfully recounts the best and worst advice she has ever received, and describes the freeing feeling of leaving the house without a handbag. We know you’ll be as smitten with Woll’s authentic nature as we are…Woman crush Wednesday anyone?

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

Hm. Tea, more tea and maybe another tea. Is tea a food? It should be. I also really like steak. That’s more occasional but it’s important to treat ourselves sometimes. But I’d definitely include it in my ideal food day.

How do you practice beauty from the inside out?

I always think being a healthy person is just about doing all the things your parents always told you to do. They were wise, believe it or not. Eat your vegetables, drink your water, wash behind your ears, brush your teeth, play outside and for goodness sake stop biting your finger nails.

How do you always start your day? What’s your go to breakfast? 

Did I mention tea before? I love Russian black teas. Kusmi tea is my favorite brand. I drink it every morning while I do my crossword. They also have wellness teas that are great if you need a lift. I like protein in the morning, so eggs are my go-to, and ham, beans or spinach, with maybe a stewed tomato. The English really got it right. That usually holds me over until dinner, honestly. I’ll have a very light lunch but not much more than a simple salad or vegetable soup.

What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?

I don’t have much of a beauty routine. I sort of do what I feel I need each day. If I feel dry, I’ll moisturize; if I feel congested, I’ll exfoliate. I feel like if our bodies are healthy, they know how to care for themselves. Plus I don’t wear makeup if I don’t have to, so I’m not clogging my pores unnecessarily. However, I definitely wash with Neutrogena Clear Pore almost everyday. And when I exfoliate I like products with glycolic acid. H2V’s regenerate is great once or twice a week.

For moisture, H2V’s hyaluronic boost has been really nice since regular moisturizers only really help with surface texture, so I throw that on after washing and then Lubriderm unscented lotion on top. And if I’m leaving the house at all I have to wear a sunscreen, but that’s really it. Oh, and brush and floss and stay away from too many sweets. We forget, but a confident smile is the best beauty asset we’ve got.

What foods and drinks make your skin feel its best? Its worst? 

I can’t say I’ve really noticed a difference. I generally eat and drink really well. I’ll indulge, but I’m good at keeping it reasonable. I can have ten chips and stop – and I know that can be a real struggle for some people. I realize that I am extremely fortunate to have a healthy relationship with food. I’ve listened to people talk about the stress they feel and the shame, and my heart goes out to them. No one should have to feel shame for eating anything. I wish there was more support and less criticism in this country for things like that.

The hair products you can’t live without…

I’m a pretty product-free kind of person. I air dry and don’t put anything in it at all, honestly. My hair is very fine and I have a lot of it so it does have a tendency to tangle. A good conditioner is a must. If my hair has been teased for a job or a photoshoot I have a very effective strategy to detangle. It’s Suave! Their conditioner is inexpensive enough to use a ton of it without feeling the pinch, and oily enough that when I rinse, the tangles mostly fall right out with just a little help from my fingers. Less breakage and torture.

My mom actually stopped combing my hair when I was a little girl because I would scream bloody murder when she’d work out my tangles and she was afraid the neighbors would call the cops! I was probably just being dramatic. Ha! So I just had rats nest hair until I got old enough to give a hoot.

What workouts do you love? Which do you think are overrated? 

I love weight lifting! I know a lot of women don’t want to do it or won’t go heavy because they’re worried about bulking up, but really we don’t have enough testosterone for that to happen. You’d have to take actual steroids to get “bulky.” I love what it does for my body and my metabolism. I rarely feel hungry and I’m pretty sure that’s because of my muscles. I also like that I can see the results. I’m not very easily motivated to exercise. For me, the reward has to be more than the work required or I’ll fizzle out a few weeks in. But after only the first few weeks of working with my trainer Ronnie, I started to see my arms get cut. It’s really cool and very motivating. I also enjoy dancing around my place like a maniac. I highly recommend it! Put on some awesome tunes, turn down the lights, and go nuts!

What’s your perfect smoothie comprised of? Your perfect salad? 

I’m not a big smoothie person. The really tasty ones are more like desserts anyway. When my friend and I take our dogs to the beach, afterwards we’ll stop at a favorite smoothie place and get pina colada smoothies (virgin, of course). We feel like it’s a nice treat after running around with the dogs for two hours. For salads, I like unfussy. Lettuce, carrot, tomato, cucumber, maybe a little olive oil and vinegar. Yum!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? The worst? 

I guess this is jumping out at me because we’ve been talking about beauty, but my friend Maxine said something to me that has always stuck. She said that makeup is all well and good and can be a lot of fun, but you should never get to the place where you don’t feel pretty without it. I think that’s lovely – and especially important to remember if you’re in the entertainment business.

As for bad advice…I was bullied a lot as a kid and after a particularly awful day at school I went to someone I thought I could trust and asked what I should do about it. Their response was that maybe I shouldn’t be the way that I was and then the kids would leave me alone. Terrible advice. It made me feel like it was my fault, and that I deserved to be hated for some reason – and it was even scarier that I couldn’t tell what it was that they hated so much. But I took the advice and pretty much stopped talking for a year. It did stop the bullying for the most part, but I feel like I’ve spent the rest of life since trying to get back to that ebullient, fearless little girl I once was.

Where do you love to travel? What won’t you travel without?

I love road trips! I’ve driven across this country six times, by many different routes. I’ve done the Pacific Northwest in snowstorms. I’ve done the south through flood and tornado warnings (very scary). The first time I saw Mexico across the Rio Grande it was covered in snow. I’ve seen the sun set perfectly aligned with the ancient Puebloan ruins in the southwest and I’ve hiked canyons where people built homes into the cliff face centuries ago.

The one thing I won’t travel without is my dog. Banner has crossed the country himself four times already in his short 2.5 years of life. I love to find dog parks along the way. You’d be surprised how many communities across the nation have made their four-legged friends a priority.

What’s always in your bag? 

Oddly, I don’t like to carry a bag if I don’t have to. I’m a bit weird in that I don’t like things that weigh me down. Usually, I’ll slip my cards into a pocket and leave my phone at home. But I do carry my notebook with me most places. It’s a bullet journal that I’ve hacked for my specific needs. It’s for appointments and to do lists but also any musings or planning I want to do. I find it’s better to have one place I keep all my notes, otherwise it’s just scraps of paper and half empty notebooks all over the place.

What’s always in your fridge? 

Seltzer. I used to drink soda regularly, but a few years ago I cut back to only every so often, as a treat. So seltzer is a great way to curb that craving when it rears its ugly head.

What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?

I feel like such a broken record. I don’t find that I go to a lot of restaurants; I tend cook more. But I had the best BBQ somewhere in South Dakota from a small counter place, called Bob’s. I love Charlie the Butcher in Buffalo. I had really creamy delicious ice cream in Oklahoma City but I can’t remember the name of it though. Oy!

In the same vein as what is the new black, what’s the new potato right now?

And the new potato is… SQUASH! Just kidding. Dad joke! Although I do like squash. I don’t know what the new potato would be in our culture. I’ve always felt a little out of step with the trends to be honest, but for me I would hope that the new potato would be open mindedness. I think aesthetics and popular culture always intimidated me because it seemed like there were wrong answers, and to avoid being embarrassed or looked down upon I just didn’t play. I hope we can all just do what makes us feel beautiful and remember that just because we don’t agree with someone else’s choice doesn’t make it wrong.

Read this interview with actress Sarita Choudhury, and to see Tracee Ellis Ross’ advice to her younger self, read this

*Deborah Ann Woll, photographed at The Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA by Danielle Kosann.