Anna Kendrick wants to like meditation. She really does. And to eat a vegan diet. And to find the perfect workout and stick to it. She’s been there and done that, but it’s just not for her.
“I’ve tried a couple of meditation classes, and so far I feel like I’m doing it wrong,” she says. “My mind races more when I meditate. And I was vegan for a year, or maybe even two, and it was the best I’ve ever felt. Then I just fell off the wagon super hard. I was like, Well, maybe I can just do vegan most days. But no. It was the classic slippery-slope situation for Anna.”
That honesty, and the fact that she doesn’t take herself too seriously, is one of the many things that make the actor so likable, and why she has more than 7 million Twitter followers. (Sample tweet: “I’m so unreliable. I’m the airline of people.”)
But Anna, 34, is the real deal when it comes to putting in the hard work to get where she is. Consider her résumé: She started on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony when she was just 12 years old, broke into movies by age 18, and a few years later became a household name for her Oscar-nominated performance in Up in the Air opposite George Clooney. More recently she starred in all three wildly popular Pitch Perfect films, which showcased her singing abilities as well as her acting.
Next up, Anna is jumping into new media. She’ll soon be starring in the romantic comedy series Love Life on HBO Max. You can currently catch her in Dummy on Quibi, a new streaming service that has movies broken into seven- to 10-minute “chapters” to be watched on your phone. In Dummy, Anna plays an aspiring writer who befriends—get ready for it—her boyfriend’s sex doll.
“It’s funny and silly and obviously over the top,” she says. “The doll is basically the physical representation of the voice in this woman’s head that tells her she’s not good enough.”
A little silliness, both at work and at home, are priorities for the star these days. “I’m trying to have a sense of play,” she says. “A lot of my life over the last decade has been work, recover, work, recover. That doesn’t leave much room for anything else. That’s the mindset and the reality for a lot of people. You work and then recover so you can work some more. Putting some fun and silliness into my life is one of my goals.”
Here’s how she follows her own happy, healthy path, Anna style.
“Every time I try something new, I’m like, I found it! I found the only workout I’ll ever need! Then I get so obsessed with it that I burn out and have to start over with something new. I went through phases of yoga, Pilates, barre classes, and running. The only thing I’ve never tried, because I know I would be bad at it, is workouts where they yell at you: ‘Come on! Get those knees up!’
“Right now I’m in a hiking phase. I live in a funky hilly area of L.A., and I realized I had to commit to going on a hike because I get my best ideas then. Actually, it’s more like mental clarity. Sometimes I’m in my head too much, and I overanalyze things. When I’m walking, I can work through whatever it is.”
“For a long time, working out meant that the only goal was to change the shape of your body. But now it’s about the strength and flexibility aspects, rather than appearance. I definitely had to shift my thinking about it, from doing something to punish myself to doing something to make my quality of life better.”
"If I don’t eat within five minutes of waking up, I will tear your face off. Honestly, that’s the reason I get out of bed. I always eat the same thing: a vegan Pure Organic Ancient Grain peanut butter bar. But they discontinued it. I have a stockpile of them, and it’s dwindling. I know it isn’t the end of the world, but this bar has been such a part of my daily routine for so long that I’m feeling very unmoored.”
“‘Everything in moderation’ is such a cliché, I know, but it’s true. The times in my life when I tried to restrict the foods I love always backfired, and I ended up feeling miserable. For me, it’s all about really being present in my body, not depriving it.
“My favorite food is macaroni and cheese. Carbs and dairy—that’s the kind of life I’m all about. And I definitely do like sweets. There was a period when I baked a lot. I would find the trickiest recipe I could because I’ve got this complex: Whenever there’s a challenge and the suggestion that maybe I can’t do it, I’m like, Oh, yeah? Watch this. Any recipe that was advanced, I would spend days working on it, trying to get it right. Ironically, the only time I was put off by sweets was during the phase when I was baking, because I always felt like I’d eaten three pounds of brownies by the time I was done. So then I’d give the rest away.”
"I am powered by ginger. I keep wellness shots of ginger, lemon, and cayenne from Pressed Juicery in my fridge. If I’m traveling and I can’t have ginger, I’ll feel sick. There was a time when I was in Germany for three months and I couldn’t find a crushed-juice place. So I bought a juicer and a bunch of ginger to make it myself because I was positive it was the only thing keeping me alive.”
“I love the fact that athletic wear is acceptable as a real outfit, and not as just an I’m-running-to-7-Eleven outfit. I can go into the world in a stretch top and sweatpants, and it’s fashion. I live for that. I want to tell this generation: Never look back. Please don’t return to the dark age of low-rise jeans. That was a hateful time, and we don’t need to go there again.”
“I used to think all that stuff about women being more emotionally intelligent than men was just something people said—the way we’d say men are worse at being sick. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that we have a lot more insight into what we’re experiencing. Women are so much better at dealing with challenging, complicated situations because conflict is about emotions. And it does start to feel like a superpower. In my experience, emotional intelligence is one of the only things that really matters.”