We’ve long been fans of the beautiful Ilfenesh Hadera, whose beauty (both inside and out) was obvious the minute we met her. We caught up with the actress (currently starring in ABC’s Deception, the finale of which airs this Sunday) in NYC to talk about favorite New York meals (she has a lot!), beauty routines and body image…
From start to finish what would be your ideal food day?
I love breakfast, it’s my favorite meal and when it comes to what I eat in the morning I’m a real creature of habit, so my perfect breakfast would be what I’ve been having daily for the last month or two. A Dr. Praeger kale veggie burger. I love the idea of getting my veggies first thing in the AM and in the colder months it’s nice to start with something warm. And I ALWAYS make two skim cappuccinos before I leave the house.
I haven’t been in a long time but I used to love to go to Cafe Cluny for lunch. It’s bright but it’s still cozy and it’s perfectly nestled away – though always lively. I love their tuna burger which comes with a wonderful wasabi mayo and fries. Add a glass of Nebbiolo and I’m happy.
For a post lunch (post wine) pick me up, I might walk over to Sant Ambroeus on Lafayette for a cappuccino to-go – to-go partially because I love their to-go cups.
Dinner’s hard to say because there are so many amazing places in NY, so I have to do it this way – the focaccia from Charlie Bird – bathed in olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, crunchy crust, warm and soft inside, little rosemary to finish. For appetizers, I’d do the Insalata Verde from Via Carota which is a tower of crisp leafy greens lightly dressed in a sherry shallot vinaigrette. The tuna tart from Bond St sushi, which I could eat every day for every meal, and the leeks from Pasquale Jones which are cooked with walnuts and parmigiano reggiano (my grandmother now does her own version after falling in love with theirs). Entree would have to be the steak au poivre from Raoul’s, extra au poivre sauce on the side. I’m not huge on dessert but birthday truffles from Momofuku Milk Bar are my weakness. And wine with that! Lots of red wine.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
To me physical beauty is lovely but there’s nothing so special about it. A. Anyone can pay for pretty and B. If you were born what our society considers classically beautiful or handsome, it was only by luck, you didn’t do anything to earn it. I think if you approach beauty that way it’s impossible not to see the value of internal beauty; kindness, compassion, generosity. When that light’s on inside, people will notice you and for all the best reasons.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
Mornings are pretty simple, I use the Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra strength Daily peel followed by the SK-II R.N.A Power face cream. If I’m not working or auditioning I prefer to go wothout much makeup so I’ll do brows – Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color, Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara, and Sephora brand black liquid eyeliner. At night I use Caudalie makeup removing cleansing oil, Kate Somerville’s detox daily cleanser and then the SK-II mosturizer again. My skin is the best it’s ever looked since I started using it; it’s hydrating but never greasy. Finally, I put on some Dior Creme de Rose smoothing plumping lip balm and I’m ready for bed.
What are your favorite workouts?
The Dogpound is my home away from home; it’s my perfect place. From the trainers, to the other clients, to the facility itself…It’s impossible to step foot in that gym and not feel motivated by the hard work and enthusiasm of everyone in the room. The trainers are top notch and they really listen to your fitness goals and push you to achieve those goals. On days that I don’t go to DP I love flywheel for some good old-fashioned cardio and the Barre classes at Exhale.
What were you always insecure about growing up, and how did you overcome it?
I think that insecurites come and go – hopefully go more than come – so at different stages in my life I’m sure I was insecure about different things. When I grew nearly twelve inches the summer before 8th grade I imagine and went back to school feeling a little awkward. I wasn’t necessarily aware of that insecurity, but an older friend one day pointed out how bad my posture was. I can still see thirteen-year-old me leaning SO deep into my hip to make myself shorter. Thank God she snapped me out of that. I don’t know where it came from but from about that age my feeling was and still is, for the things you can’t change – height, cup size, that area of your body that never looks quite the way you want it to – embrace it! It’s yours.
What advice would you have for young women struggling with body image?
Just that. To embrace yourself and love where you came from, your history, your ancestry. I’m a product of my mother and father whom I love fiercely as well as all those who came before. I am them, the best and the worst of me and I love seeing them when I look in the mirror.
What foods and drink do you love? Which do you avoid and why?
I like simple food. Grilled or baked vegetables, meat and fish are my favorite. I really think less is more when you’re working with fresh and in-season ingredients. I won’t drink soda or fruit juice and I don’t eat candy. Luckily I have very little taste for the sugary stuff.
What three things are you coveting right now?
I just got a beautiful new sofa so I shouldnt say this but the Montauk Jane sofa would be heaven to park my butt on every night
I don’t wear a watch but if I did it would be this one.
A custom made gold signet ring from Rebus.
What are the hair products you can’t live without?
If you could put a quote on a t-shirt to sum up your current mood and mode, what would it be?
I’m not sure. Moods are ever-changing and I could sport a shirt today that I’d want to burn by next week. If I had to pick though, it’d be something about gratitude as an expression of my appreciation for a wonderful life or a reminder on the days I’ve forgotten.