Jennifer Aniston finds strength after the most complicated role of her career

“Women were never allowed to have power,” she says. “Power feels sexy to me today, as does women’s intelligence and how capable and creative they are.” The actress reflects on The Morning Show, her most complex role to date.

She and her good friend Reese Witherspoon both star in and serve as executive producers of The Morning Show, a fierce drama débuting this fall on the highly anticipated Apple TV+ streaming service. It was among the first shows that the tech behemoth picked up under its new television division, and, yes, the two A-listers and their creative team had to personally pitch the idea to the heads of video at Apple. “This was something that didn’t even have walls yet. It’s so exciting to be a part of that,” Aniston says.

Whereas her former television mainstay, the ’90s sitcom Friends, was as frothy as a Central Perk cappuccino, The Morning Show is more like a double espresso straight out of bed. Abrupt and to the point, it tackles the conversations currently happening in HR offices worldwide. “The show gives you a behind-the-curtain peek at a lot of things — what it takes to pull off a morning show, the unique lifestyle of these anchors, the obsession with celebrity culture, and humanity in the midst of corruption. Plus we’re addressing the ugly truths of how men have treated women in our society, particularly in the workplace, for all these years,” Aniston explains. “We’re looking at the ways in which we’ve all normalized this behavior and how we’re all by-products of our environment, having grown up with sexism encoded in our messaging, however extreme or subtle. This show looks at how a culture of silence can slowly evolve and how we sometimes participate without even realizing it.”
Jennifer Aniston

Aniston hopes that the show, which delves into the gray areas of #MeToo, will also inspire deeper conversation about the norms of the workplace. And the dialogue should not just be limited to men either. The reckoning affects all of us. “There’s a new playbook that’s being written in real time, and this show looks at how we’re finally taking steps to acknowledge and dismantle the old, dysfunctional ways of doing business so we can level the playing field.”

“Fifty was the first time I thought, ‘Well, that number,’ ” Aniston says. “I don’t know what it is because I don’t feel any different. Things aren’t shutting down in any way. I feel physically incredible. So it’s weird that it’s all of a sudden getting telegraphed in a way that’s like, ‘You look amazing for your age.’ I think we need to establish some etiquette around that dialogue and verbiage.”

Jennifer Aniston
 Aniston admits that, if anything, she feels more in control than ever. “Women were never allowed to have power,” she says bluntly. “Power feels sexy to me today, as does women’s intelligence and how capable and creative they are.”

Not surprisingly, The Morning Show crew has many cool ladies both in front of and behind the camera. “There are a lot of women running this show,” Aniston says of the team, “and it moves really smoothly.”

Pushing herself out of her comfort zone wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Aniston’s loyal and supportive assistants, glam squad, and fashion aides, all of whom have been with her for 10 years or more. In shaping her character’s look, she brought in her secret weapons: twin-sister stylists Nina and Clare Hallworth. “We went with beautifully tailored men’s fabrics in shades of gray, blue, and brown. It was a conscious decision not to be in canary yellow or fuchsia or cobalt blue,” Aniston says.

Jennifer Aniston

From time to time the Hallworth sisters provide a glimpse of Aniston on their Instagram account, but the actress herself still maintains an aversion to social media. It’s not that she couldn’t be bothered with uploading her life — she worries about the damaging effects of social media on young people figuring out their identity. “They’re doing it through someone else’s lens, which has been filtered and changed…and then it’s ‘like me, don’t like me, did I get liked?’ There’s all this comparing and despairing.”

Could Aniston imagine that when she was a kid? “When I was younger, I was in hell,” she says, referring to her untamable curly hair. “I tried every product known to man.” By the time she was 25, Friends had launched, and Aniston was thrust into the spotlight, where she has remained ever since. “I was such a grown-up by then,” she says, shaking her head. “I had moved away from home. I had been on six failed television shows. I waitressed for years in New York before I got anything. And I was a telemarketer selling time-shares in the Poconos. I didn’t make one sale. I was terrible at it. I was like, ‘Why do we have to call people at dinnertime?’ “

Other odd jobs: “I cut hair for 10 bucks a head in junior high. I could probably cut your hair,” she says. Her longtime hairstylist, Chris McMillan, her “brother from another mother” who created the Rachel style for her in the ’90s, might disagree. See also: her father, the actor John Aniston. “I cut my dad’s hair, and he was on a soap opera [Days of Our Lives]. But then he admitted to me 15 years ago that he would go in and have the hairdresser on set clean it up.”Jennifer Aniston

Would Aniston like to live as long? “I am all about living to whatever age I’m supposed to,” she says. “As long as I’m thriving.”

When you think about the arc of Aniston’s career, she is gaining momentum rather than slowing down. So, yes, thriving seems to be a pretty apt descriptor. With Season 1 of The Morning Show completed and Apple committed to a second season, even Aniston is allowing herself to experience a rare moment of pride. “When we found out that we were among one of the first shows to be bought by Apple, Reese and I both had this pinch-me moment,” she says. “The first women to help launch a network as actors and producers, having a beautiful piece of that pie that we really earned and deserved. We had a big toast to that.”

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