The Joy of Being Jenna Dewan

It’s been almost 25 years since Jenna Dewan arrived in Hollywood—or, more accurately, the Hollywood-adjacent, University of Southern California—with a singular goal: to dance professionally.

To say dancing was a passion is accurate, to describe it as a lifeline isn’t off-base either: Her parents split when she was a year old, a lot of moving around from city to city followed, her mom enrolled her into classes while she was in kindergarten, and the activity became, as she describes it, “her constant.” When a talent scout told her as a teenager that, if she could get herself to Los Angeles, the jobs would follow, she applied to every school that was remotely within driving distance.

The call came quickly, and it was from none other than Janet—as in, Ms. Jackson. She was looking to hire Dewan as a backup dancer for her “Doesn’t Really Matter” video; a spot on her 2001 “All for You” tour came shortly after.

“She is my touchpoint, she is the start of my everything, she is the start of my whole career,” Dewan tells me quietly over the phone. “I owe her so much. It was such a specific dream of mine when I was a kid. To have had that experience so young…it’s overwhelming when I think about it. I’m still in awe of it all.”

A few days earlier, the 41-year-old mom of two insisted on having Jackson play on repeat and was equally as persistent that everyone on set at the shoot go home and tune in immediately to the pop icon’s documentary that debuted the night prior. (She was also semi selfconscious about her almost-automatic dance-response to toe-point during every photo.)

Her longtime rep, Jeff, tells me that he has her playlist on his phone, and they never venture too far from it. He also tells me that, when it’s time for the interview, nothing is off limits, but there’s way more to the star than that divorce from Channing Tatum. And there’s also really nothing else interesting to say about it.

She has moved on, she’s engaged and wildly in love with actor Steve Kazee, and they have a 2-year-old son, Callum. (She also has 8-year-old daughter, Evie, with whom she shares with Tatum.) Dancing is still significant—she’ll serve as a judge on CBS’ Come Dance With Me, produced by LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell, premiering in April—as are starring roles in ABC’s The Rookie and CW’s Superman and Lois. Then there is the not-so-shabby side gig of having her business, Everheart Productions, tapped to produce two Lifetime films this spring (she’ll star in those, too).

And no one is as surprised as Dewan: “I feel very in awe of the course my life has taken. A lot of it, I could have never guessed would happen, and that excites me because it makes me feel like, ‘Well, I didn’t see that one coming!’ Imagine what else I haven’t seen coming that could be even grander than what I ever could imagine.”

What’s it like looking back at your life so far?

“I think it’s good for me, and for everyone, to have these moments in life that you refer back to. Those moments where you can stop and say, ‘That’s where the dream manifested.’ When you feel down about things, you can take a minute to look at the dream. That is a possibility, as well as all the other things we go through.”

It’s good to have these moments in life that you refer back to.

What would you like to tell the “teenage you” heading off to California for the first time?

“Soak it all in! Take the time to really take in what is happening to you in the present moment. It was so exciting in my younger years; I was so young and there were so many experiences that were incredible, but I feel like I wasn’t as present for all of it as I should have been. To really just let go, have fun, and to not worry so much. It all works out, and it’s even better than you could imagine. Speak your truth, say no when you must, and don’t worry so much. There is a lot of worry at times, and I know that goes for everyone, but everything works out. It always does.”

It seems like it’s all working out for you. You seem really happy on social media.

“I always say that social media is a highlight reel, but I do like to share! It’s part of my life and I enjoy that part of it. But there are also so many things I keep to myself. There are a lot of moments I have as a mother that are just for me. There are a lot of moments with my partner that we’re choosing not to put on social media. Sometimes, I share the challenges, and sometimes I go through the challenges by myself. Sometimes, I don’t feel like sharing. Then, other times, I’m so in the moment with my kids, and we’re doing something really fun, that I completely forget I even have a phone. I’d say I am a pretty open person, in general, but I’m also not sharing everything.”

You’ve been open about your anxiety and overall mental health, especially in dealing with postpartum. What is working for you now?

“Over the past couple of years, we all had to pull out every tool we knew to stay balanced, find joy and go through some hard times. That’s really what it is. I look at it like a toolbox I have; I know certain habits and rituals I can do that help me release anxiety and feel the joy. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. There’s not one thing I can do, but I know a few things that help me.

I guess I’m just grateful to stay in the flow, to still be in the flow, so to speak.

One of them is definitely self-care, which is basically doing anything that makes me feel better about myself. A relaxing bath with sea salt, a self-care ritual, my beauty rituals…things like that really lift my mood. So does the embodiment stuff—anything that gets me out of my head and into my body. Working out, dancing, going for a hike, taking the dogs for a walk, getting outside.

I know, without a doubt, that when my anxiety is high, I’m not doing anything to serve my body. There is a clear direct link for me. Anything embodiment seems to help with my anxiety—so does breathwork. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as dancing, putting music on and moving, swimming, anything that’s physical really helps.”

What’s next?

“I’m very excited about my production company. It’s been a big focus for me to expand a little bit into creating in all different ways, and to create this company that I’ve had this dream of forever. We’re really, really close and have a lot of amazing projects in the works. I’m excited for that. That’s been a huge focus of mine. I love that I’m in LA as much as I am at the moment. I’m loving getting all this time grounding at home with family, and yet also incredible work projects. I feel grateful because things are all coming together, and that makes me feel extremely fulfilled. I know that these are all just moments in life—it’s not every day and it won’t be every year that we’re going to have this feeling. I am wise enough to acknowledge when that good stuff is happening, and to be grateful for it. I guess I’m just grateful to stay in the flow, to still be in the flow, so to speak. It’s a good feeling.”


THE LIST

FAN CLUB

“I am a total beauty junkie, and I’ve always called myself a frustrated aesthetician. If there’s an oil, I’ve tried it. If there’s a facial, I’ve done it. I love all that kind of stuff.”

RADIO STACK

“Lately, I have been really into radio-frequency facials, especially with Ivan Pol. They really lift!”

BASIC INSTINCT

“I started going back to the basics. There’s this brand, Rosen, that has a moisturizer with niacin, and it has sunscreen, too! It’s so brightening for the face, and it’s also all-in-one, which I love as a mom. Sometimes, I need to wake up, wash my face, and just have one product to throw on. So that’s my back to my basics: Cleanse, some sort of exfoliation, retinol and oil.”

OIL SPILL

“I love a face oil; I usually look for something with rosehip or argan oil. My skin is dry, and those kinds of oils save me.”

LIGHT SHOW

“I guess my more ‘extreme’ thing I’ve been doing lately is the red light. I have this red light that I put right on my vanity table, right in my bathroom. When I have the time to get ready and put on makeup, I turn on this light, and it makes me feel so good and relaxed and energized. At the same time, it’s good for collagen, anti-aging and going deep into the layers of skin—all that wonderful stuff. That’s been the wackiest thing I’ve been doing lately. I get a lot of funny looks from Steve when he sees the red light; I told him not to even ask what’s going on. That’s what I’m into now.”

BEDSIDE MANNER

“I never go to bed without washing my face. Even on my wildest nights, I’m washing my face. I always cleanse, and I’m pretty good about applying my retinol pads that I get from Dr. Lancer—I love those. Even if I’m filming and it’s 4 a.m. in the morning and we just wrapped, I’ll cleanse, follow up with the retinol pad, and apply some moisturizer. Those are my basics.”

Photography by Dennis Leupold; Makeup: Tonya Brewer at Dew Beauty Agency; Hair: Ricky Mota at Mane Addicts; Nails: Zola Ganzorigt at The Wall Group; Styling: Brad Goreski

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