Drew Barrymore has been part of our public lives for more than 40 years. And while she has millions of fans, you’re bound to pick up some critics along the way.
These days, it’s easy to dismiss any sort of criticism as out of bounds, be it sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and so on.
Which is why it’s easy to understand why one might assume that’s where Barrymore was going in her interview with trans influencer and activist Dylan Mulvaney.
Instead, the pair shared a powerful exchange, even kneeling on the floor where Barrymore felt the intimacy of their moment would be “safer.” They broke down what they’ve learned from their critics and how they’ve learned to move beyond other kinds of criticism that are only designed to cause harm.
Mulvaney sat down with Barrymore to discuss the inspiration behind her “365 Days of Girlhood” series, where Mulvaney posts daily social media videos documenting her transition.
Mulvaney acknowledged that she did receive some feedback from fellow trans celebrity Laverne Cox about how Mulvaney was handling her public transition. “She said to keep something private for myself,” Mulvaney said. “And I couldn’t agree more in the way that there were a few moments this year where I was like, ‘Was I actually ready to say that?’ But now, since meeting her, and having that moment, I go, ‘Okay, what would Laverne do?’ and I have actually stopped myself from making a few videos to make sure I was actually ready to talk about those things.”
Mulvaney then went on to explain that even when keeping some things private, she also tries to consider what her growing audience of fans gains from her videos.
“I think about if I was following myself on TikTok as a young kid, what would I want to hear?” Mulvaney told Barrymore, adding that the amount of support she has received was a complete surprise.
“I figured when I came out that I might have to go into hiding and then do all my surgeries privately and change my name and instead decided, hey, let me see if the world is willing to accept me this way from day one, and they did,” she said.
When asked how she dealt with negative comments online towards herself and the trans community, Mulvaney shared, “I think the greatest weapon that I can contribute is trans joy…I’m not somebody that is trying to do anything but be myself and be happy.”
Towards the end of the segment, Barrymore got on her knees to get closer to Mulvaney while explaining her own approach to handling criticism, comparing film reviews to today’s social media (“You are pretty much guaranteed a 50-50, some like it, some don’t.”) and going so far as to say her worst critic is still often herself.
The two sat on the floor together and shared a hug just before going to a commercial break.
“Thank you for joining me on the floor. The floor always feels safer,” Barrymore said.
While some people took issue with the exchange, in particular finding offense at Barrymore “kneeling” before Mulvaney (a quickly debunked claim), the exchange was in reality a positive, unifying example of how we can learn from some criticism while understanding when it’s better to simply let the outside voices go.
And it’s not like it’s the first time Barrymore has used her show to go deeper.
As one person was quick to point out, this is not the first time Barrymore has demonstrated this gesture and even provided pictures to prove it.
Obviously the people attacking Drew Barrymore for showing compassion & being on the floor has never seen her show. She literally does this with A LOT of guest to feel more connected & to make the interview feel less formal.
Um, Hello! 👇 pic.twitter.com/uEUcpWA1sN
— ⚡️⚡️PJ⚡️⚡️🌈 (@PJocky82) March 14, 2023
Actress Laura J Silverman, who claimed to work with Barrymore, attested that this kind of behavior was simply her MO.
“I worked with Drew Barrymore once and she really is that person—lovely, kind, generous, genuine; open hearted, interested, fun. Full of life. A lot of people would do well to emulate that.”
Others were quick to defend Barrymore’s actions, saying it spoke more to her humanity than anything else.
“Drew Barrymore is a sweet, honest, kind, human being who puts empathy, compassion, and the comfort of others first,” one person wrote.
“It’s beautiful when your childhood icons are actually decent people who care about Queer people,” another added.
You can watch the full video below.