At 56, This Southern sweetheart is as radiant as ever and lighting up the small screen in the hit show Cedar Cove.

Andie MacDowell
Credit: Photo: Miller Mobley

One-on-one, Andie MacDowell makes you feel at ease right away. She is calm and easygoing, but within five minutes of visiting with the Gaffney, South Carolina, native, we see she has a rambunctious edge—a departure from the sweet-girl roles she tends to play. "I never sit still," she says, proving it during our photo shoot by scaling a tree in an $8,000 gown and requesting to ride bareback—her preferred riding style. Besides genetics, that zest for life contributes to her impossibly youthful glow. You'd expect the model and actress, after more than 30 years of being in the celebrity world, to be cool and cagey during interviews, but instead Andie is warm and unguarded. The only topic she is reserved about is her family. She does share, though, that her focus has always been on her kids and raising them with strong Southern values. Perhaps that's why despite maintaining a steady public presence with nearly one movie a year since Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes in 1984, you never read a bad word about the mother of three in the tabloids. Before heading back to Canada, where she is filming for the Hallmark Channel show Cedar Cove, we sat down with Andie to talk about what she's learned over the years on life and beauty.

On Hollywood
"My nature is to be introverted. I don't love going out or partying. I know a lot of people say this, but I'd really rather be out on my farm riding horses or at home with a book. I love Clyde Edgerton, Carl Jung, and Sue Monk Kidd. I wear this bracelet every day, and it says 'Look Homeward, Angel,' from Thomas Wolfe's book. My kids gave it to me to remind me that I'm never alone."

On raising kids
"The most important thing was to make sure my kids were brave and independent. We didn't try to push anything on them and always had trust."

On beauty
"I drink tons of water and tea, and I work out every day. Mostly it's doing yoga or the elliptical. I've worked with L'Oréal for years and truly use their products daily: Their RevitaLift and Nature's Therapy Deep Treatment conditioner are miracle workers. And I haven't found a better moisturizer than Kiehl's Creme de Corps body lotion."

On taking risks
"There are a lot of roles that I turned down because I was afraid of disappointing my family or people in my hometown. If I could go back I would follow my instincts and take more chances in my career. Now that my daughters are in the industry, I tell them not to worry about what anyone thinks and to just go for it."

On the South
"It wasn't the easiest decision to give up our house in North Carolina, but it was just too big for us. I wanted to simplify. The kids and I will always remember it as a place that we loved and made great memories. My family all still lives in the Carolinas, and I get back to visit often. I love spending days in little towns like Edisto Beach [South Carolina] that feel untouched."

On indulging
"I love pie, especially strawberry pie. I have a very strong sweet tooth that I have to be careful about. It's not easy to always have to watch what you eat, but when you are an actor and model you are expected to look a certain way."

On Southerners
"Southern people are crazy, and I'm thankful to have grown up as part of that. Growing up here made me a richer person. People say reading Faulkner is hard because he's all over the place, but for me it's easy—I'm right there with him."

On independence
"I've always found it important to stand on my own. I still know a lot of women who are on allowances. I respect women who choose to stay at home and take care of their families, but it's different when you've made it your only option."

On finding happiness
"Being happy is a choice. Everyone can choose to let go of anger. Holding on to resentment makes us ugly. Real beauty has a lot to do with maintaining calmness and focusing on gratitude."