Fran Drescher, who doesn’t look like she’s aged a minute past The Nanny, is every bit as charismatic on Zoom as she was on my TV screen as a kid. At 62 years old, the actress says she feels good in her own skin, which she’s currently covering in Laura Geller products thanks to a recent collaboration drawing attention to beauty for women over 40. As a fan of Fran—I think I watched Beautician and the Beast 100 times when it came out—I was excited to pick her brain about her famous sitcom, her favorite products and so much more.
When you look back at your years on The Nanny, are there any significant moments that stick out to you?
“Every time we would get a pick-up, every time we had to come up with a new season of stories, it was kind of a hurdle that you have to jump as the series matures. But I think the most important global message of the show was that it doesn’t matter what you look like or what you sound like, it’s what in your heart that counts.
It all was instigated by my tenacious personality who ran into the head of the network on a plane and decided to really work the room so to speak, and get him to give me a pitch meeting when we got back to the United States. One thing led to another, but that was me living through a life lesson that I tough myself years before when I didn’t carpe diem. I think that when you really push yourself to seize an opportunity and not get in your way or have self-doubts, or think maybe I’m being inappropriate or whatever, or I could never do that, amazing things can happen. We knew we had caught lightning in a bottle when we did the pilot. It was like the whole audience was so with us, right from the beginning. Peter and I were thinking, wow this is working. It was an anomaly always.
I was also always really loud and proud about being a Jewish character, which really wasn’t something you saw on TV. To be outwardly Jewish as a character and be played by a Jewish actor in a lead role in prime time really hadn’t been done since Molly Goldberg did it in 1948. When we started it there was a note from a potential sponsor that they wanted to buy the show outright if the character was written Italian and not Jewish, and I said no. We couldn’t write it as well, as rich with specificity, because we’re not Italian. I also wanted it to have what my style of acting was, which is very nuanced and specific—not broad—which required me to play a character that was very close to myself and the people I grew up with.”
I have to ask, was that all your real hair on the show?
“No way! In the very beginning in the first season, it was my hair, but it was getting too abused. I said, you know, we need to get into some pieces, which kind of opened up a new world because not only did it save my own hair, but then we got into wigs and different hair colors and different lengths, and it became an extension of her wardrobe and style.”
Do you have a favorite hair look?
“After I did Beautician and the Beast, I think we made her look a little more refined, which was probably like the fifth season. I really liked my look in that season because I was influenced by my look in the movie and I loved the way I looked in the movie. But Peter didn’t think it was as right for the character. I also loved my look in Paris. And one time I came down the stairs in this gorgeous white gown and my hair was up in this big, huge piece, and it was a very Audrey Hepburn look, until I spoke of course.”
Are you good at doing your own hair and makeup?
“I’m very good at it. Very often I will do it myself, but I love the guy who does my makeup—I call him the Mac Daddy—and he’s like family and it’s kind of like we get to have a little visit and it relaxes me. And my hair I do like to have someone do because I have two compressed discs in my neck, so doing it starts to hurt my neck. Though I am a licensed hairdresser—well I’m not licensed anymore—so I could do it and I’m good at it. I’m not sure how I got those compressed discs: I don’t know if I was overzealous playing tennis or doing yoga, but something screwed me up.”
Speaking of makeup, how did the partnership with Laura Geller come to be?
“It was a very organic partnership, and I’ve gotten very educated on Laura Geller products and the care and attention they take for how they’re manufactured, and all the powders are baked on tile in Italy. Also, a lot of the products are geared for the over-40 lady, and I find it very authentic and sincere, and very convincing. I am also a cancer survivor and I am the founder of the Cancer Schmancer movement, and one of the major platforms for my organization is detox your home, and ask yourself what products you’re using. So it has to reach a certain criteria for me to put my face and my name to it because I walk the talk. I felt confident that I could move forward with these products.”
What are your favorites from the collection?
“The Spackle primer comes in all different versions, but the Hydrate is my favorite. It’s nice because then you don’t have to put on a moisturizer—it’s like a two-in-one. It comes out really beautiful and smooth. I also think the Spackle Mist is really amazing, and it’s made from coconut water. It has that beautiful smell, and it’s a gorgeous mister too—it doesn’t leave drops on your skin. I use it all the time, whether I’m wearing makeup or not. I just love to feel that hydration; it feels heavenly. For powder, I use the Baked Balance-n-Brighten. You just put that all over your face and it gives you a finished look. You can put it over Spackle and then you’re set to go all day.
I also love Heavenly Brows. I’ve tried all different eyebrow products, and this is by far the best thing I’ve ever used. Something about this brush doesn’t clump up and gives a very natural look. I used to have super-thick eyebrows and I was constantly tweezing them and then I went through a phase where I made them really thin, and now they don’t grow back as thick as they once did. When I was a teenager, that Brooke Shields look was really happening, and I had those eyebrows too, and I was really into it, but somewhere along the line skinny eyebrows came into vogue, and if you tweeze them long enough, they’re not going to grow back.
And Line-n-Define, too. One side is a smudgy eyeliner crayon, but the other side is what I use all the time. It’s like the finest Sharpie, kind of, and what I do is go under the lash line. As you get older you start losing more of your lashes and you see more of the lid that’s under the lash. A long time ago a girlfriend told me to do this, and I’ve been doing it with dark shadow a lot because when I used regular black liner, my eyes would tear. But my eyes never tear with this one and it stays on. Love it!”
Are there any other beauty products you’re loving right now?
“I became aware of a company called ColorOnly, which is hair color, and the reason I like it is because you only have to keep it on your head for 10 minutes, and it’s permanent color but it’s translucent, so it doesn’t grow out with a ridge. It also has enzyme activators in it, which is what I’ve been using since my cancer survival because it’s healthier. It doesn’t ammonia in it and no smell, and it has a lot of rich emollients that make your hair feel like virgin hair, even when you color it.”
Has COVID changed your routine at all?
“Since COVID, I’m doing a much more natural color palette. It’s just a whole new life since lockdown and I don’t even really wear nail polish anymore. I think it’s a good thing though. I think it’s reconnected us all to being less-masked, more authentic, more natural and more relaxed. That’s where I’m at these days.
I also just went through my closet, and I have a lot of different sizes of couture clothes, and now I’m a size 8. And I have a much easier time being a size 8 than being a 6 or a 4 or a 2, all of which I’ve been in my career. Over this whole pandemic, I’ve finally let go of all these clothes and this illusion that I’m going to get back to that size. Because frankly, I don’t want to. I don’t want to have to be a size that is unnatural to me. I am able to enjoy my life and eat what I want and do intermittent fasting without killing myself, and I think I look beautiful in a size 8.”