From a highly-trained agent to a cool Canadian newscaster Cobie Smulders often plays a strong, independent character that you really want to grab a drink with, except when she doesn’t, which we talk about. While her character on How I Met Your Mother didn’t necessarily love children, Smulders is here to help support them. She’s teamed up with the Colgate Smile Fund to help raise awareness about the need for optimism and emotional resilience among young people through donating to City Year, which aims to help students in under-resourced schools succeed. Donations go toward funding social-emotional resources. “I just love the focus. It’s all positive-minded. They’re trying to get kids to smile and promote positivity, which is something we really need right now,” says Smulders.
Tell us a bit about where the Colgate Smile Fund’s donation is going this year.
“This is an ongoing initiative, but right now, they’re making amazing donations to this wonderful organization called City Year, which is a non-profit that works with under-resourced schools across the U.S. The thing I love about this organization is that it’s all about socio-emotional learning, which I feel is pretty lacking in schools. It’s sort of like a bonus to be able to meet with mentors and talk about your feelings, especially coming out of this insane time where things just keep going. It’s a really wonderful opportunity for these kids to connect to mentors and have their feelings heard and become more confident and just have general well-being.”
I know you like natural, no-nonsense, clean beauty and skin care products. Do you have any favorites?
“You’re right—I try to live my life as organically as possible. I really like BeautyCounter my sister-in-law actually works for it. It started in Canada, I really like that brand. I really like Herbivore—they’ve got nice organic products. I try to be as natural as possible. My sister actually makes these amazing oils herself in her kitchen a lot as well.”
You seem to often play the chill, laidback, confident girl that’s a cool hang. Are you like that in real life? Why do you think those roles gravitate toward you?
“I think it’s just my general Canadian vibe. I would say I am quite easy going in real life, so maybe that moves into the roles that I luckily get to do. But yeah, I don’t know. I guess I’m just kind of chill. It’s a fun character to play, but also I like to switch it up and play people who are a little bit more on edge at all times.”
Speaking of—I was so excited to see you in American Crime Story. What was it like taking on the challenge of portraying a real person?
“Yeah, speaking of for sure. It was a wonderful challenge. The benefit that I had going into that role is there’s so much footage of her because she really put herself out there, so that was really helpful. Being able to watch tapes and read all of her books to try to understand that point of view was exciting. It was cool playing somebody [real], but it also came with the pressure of getting it right and making it believable and also not going into the cartoonish, which I think you could do with her very easily. It was a real fun challenge. I enjoyed it a lot.”
And you, as a blonde, looked so good.
“Thank you! That wig was a character unto itself.”
I loved your cameo in How I Met Your Father. What was it like to go back to that set?
“It was wild. They recreated the entire MacLaren’s set. There were still crew members that had done How I Met Your Mother. It felt like truly jumping back in time. I don’t feel like people really get the opportunity to do that and revisit. It’s like going back to college, right? Everything looks the same, and even some of the people are the same. So it was a really full circle moment for me. Luckily Pamela Fryman, who directed almost every episode of How I Met Your Mother, was directing this episode.”
One of the focuses of the Colgate Smile Fund is resilience. You’re very resilient, having been in the business for years and coming up against cancer. How do you find that strength?
“That’s an ongoing journey, right? I think true resiliency just comes when you keep putting one foot in front of the other. I think that what I try to exercise in my own life like, ‘Okay, this moment is a hard moment. Let’s just allow that to be that, and eventually, it will change, and good moments will come in.’ Instead of worrying about the future or fretting about the past, I try to stay as present as possible and feel what is happening, whether it’s good or bad and keep in mind that everything is temporary—I find that helpful. I think, also, just as you mentioned, the more times you find yourself in a hard place, the easier it is to be in a hard place again.”
I know you have children. How do you talk to them about beauty standards, sexism and all the other things going on these days and instill resilience in them?
“First off, I think that they’re amazing. There is a lot about growing up in this day and age that’s terrifying, but I think there are also things that are wonderful. I will say in the city that we live in the country that we live in, we are allowed to believe what we want, dress as we want and be with who we want to be with it and I’m just super excited about that.
Also with resilience, it’s like just ‘don’t be a jerk and remember to look outside yourself, which I think is very challenging to do. I think kids are very naturally selfish, so they have to learn how to be empathetic. They have to learn to consider ‘how can we help women in the world’ and consider what’s going on outside of themselves and their own feelings. You have to take other people’s experiences and journeys into account.”
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