Smart Kooky

New Girl star Zooey Deschanel explains how becoming a mum has made her better at me time and why she was in no rush to lose her baby weight.

Star of E4 comedy New Girl, Zooey deschanel is returning to our screens with a brand-new series of the hit show. the actress took a short break during filming to have her daughter, Elsie Otter, now ten months old, but was soon back playing her quirky on-screen persona, Jess.

In real life, Zooey is sharp, clever and fuelled by a steely determination that has ensured her success as an actress, musician (she is one half of folk duo she & him) and blogger (the star sold website hellogiggles to Time Inc last year).


After making her name in a string of cool, indie films including Almost Famous and 500 Days Of Summer, 36-year-old Zooey landed the lead role in her own sitcom, New Girl, playing Jessica day, an offbeat school teacher who moved into an apartment with three men after splitting with her long term boyfriend. although she’s earnt both golden globe and Emmy nominations, Zooey now calls motherhood “her most important project ever,” and explains how it’s finally taught her to slow down and create more balance in her life.

Work, rest and play
A self-confessed workaholic, Zooey admits that she often finds it hard to switch off. “on a scale of one to ten, I’m a ten on the workaholic scale,” she says. “I don’t sleep in. I’m a go-to-bed early, wake-up-early kind of person. I hate the feeling of waking up at noon.” but since becoming a mum in July last year, Zooey believes it has forced her to relax her ambitious nature and says she’s much better at carving out some me-time these days. “I’ve slowed things down a bit,” she admits. “I think it’s good for your whole self – your creative self, your professional self and just your soul – to take a little time for yourself and your family. You can spend your whole life going after things, but I think you risk missing out on some really powerful self-reflection.”

Baby balance
And although she is looking great following her pregnancy, Zooey is quick to point out that she was never going to be one of those celebrities who snaps back to their pre-pregnancy size in a matter of weeks. “To expect someone to look like her pre-baby self immediately is odd,” she explains. “Because you just grew a human and then birthed that human – there’s a lot that needs to go back to where it was. all your organs move around, for christ’s sake!”
Instead, for a Hollywood star, Zooey is refreshingly realistic about body image. “I’ve always gone my own course and never been someone who had the need to be super skinny. I like a healthy look. I don’t buy into that skinny-is-better mentality. I just eat healthy and work out and don’t worry about my weight too much. actresses aren’t models, and most of them never wanted to be.”

Fitness For Fun
Zooey’s approach to working out has always been to have fun rather than to lose weight. “A lot of people work out to be skinny. that’s so boring, and it seems like a depressing goal for a modern woman,” says Zooey. “I work out to be healthy and because I like it. I do sports or classes, things that engage my mind.” mixing it up with hiking alongside her husband, film producer Jacob Pechenik, hoola-hooping and even tap dancing keeps her exercise routine interesting. “If you’re active, fitness will follow – and probably a good figure, too.” A firm believer in achieving a healthy mind as well as a healthy body, she has ‘I don’t buy into that skinny is- better mentality’ the actress stars in hit comedy New Girl Zooey enjoys hiking with hubby Jacob a great tip for instantly uplifting your mood. “everyone needs a theme song!” she recommends. “It should make you feel like a million dollars. mine is Friends Of Mine by the Zombies. It makes me feel extremely happy.”


Food Fight
A former vegan, Zooey struggled to sustain it as she has coeliac disease and suffers from allergies to dairy, wheat and soy. “to be a gluten-free vegan is, like, the most difficult thing you can possibly be. and I lasted, like, six months,” she laughs. but as a keen cook, she loves to whip up healthy recipes for her friends and family. “I find it really
satisfying to bake for other people – cupcakes, cookies and cakes. I make a good quinoa spaghetti with pesto and zucchini. pesto is one of those things you can experiment with, and one day I was like: ‘What if I used hemp seeds instead of pine nuts because they’re more nutritious?’ I’ve made it for a lot of dinner parties. It was a hit!”
Doing things on her own terms and refusing to compromise has become the secret to Zooey’s success. So now that she’s nailed her career and is loving life as a new mum too, what is the biggest lesson she has learnt along the way? “If I could give my teenage self any advice, it would be: ‘calm down!’ In fact, if I could relive one day of my life, it would be the worst day of seventh grade, just so I could appreciate how much better life is now.”

Tune in to see Zooey in the forthcoming series of new girl, coming soon on E4

15th August 2016
Written by Vanessa Margetts