Amy Smart is the first to admit that she’s low maintenance. “Before I go to bed, I’m lucky if I remember to wash my face and put on moisturizer,” she says early one spring morning while waiting for hair and makeup on her Naturally shoot.
She’s wearing a cozy, heavy knit sweater, jeans, and ankle-length suede boots—the same boots that she’ll wear later in the day during the photo session. Not surprising since her easy style is a perfect match for the canyons and meadows that make up the 10,000-acre Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in central California.
Like Alisal, Smart is quintessentially Californian. She was raised in the mountains above Malibu in Topanga Canyon, where rope swings, creekside hiking, and abundant wildlife made for a nature-filled childhood. It also inspired her environmentalism, a passion that started at the age of 18 when she joined the non-profit Heal the Bay, which has a mission to keep Southern California beaches healthy and clean.
“Topanga has always been very grounding for me,” she reports. “It doesn’t have a weird Hollywood vibe with paparazzi and people dying to break into the business.” But obviously Smart, 38, did break into the business (most recently as Alison on FX’s critically acclaimed Justified), and she’s consistently worked since she was a teen, which gives her a healthy perspective and a refreshingly solid foundation to continue her environmental work.
She’s on the board of the Environmental Media Association; she’s lobbied in Sacramento to help ban plastic bags and eliminate the carcinogen BPA from baby-feeding products. She’s appeared in anti-fracking public service announcements for Environment California. And her efforts to help bring vegetable gardens into schools gave her a fortuitous introduction: She met Carter Oosterhouse, the HGTV fix-it guy (once named one of People magazine’s sexiest men), and they married in 2011.
On Amy: A fluttery Maison Jules dress coupled with a soft Eileen Fisher eco-chic camisole is Amy’s kind of ranch dressing. Her cowboys closely monitor when the cows come home thanks to Movado watches.
“We met in a very natural way,” she jokes. But Smart really does love gardens—especially the vegetable garden the couple tends at their home in Traverse City, Michigan. They split their time between there and Los Angeles, but the farm stands, blueberry patches, “the best cherries,” and the vineyards keep the couple coming back to the Midwest. In fact, this summer, with Oosterhouse’s brother, they’re launching their own sustainable winery and tasting room in Michigan, called Bonobo.
Smart’s visit to Alisal comes not long after she and Oosterhouse drove up to this same Central Coast region to go wine tasting. She’s back to perfect her grilling skills at Alisal’s BBQ Bootcamp. The couple love to cook for friends and family, and Smart thought this would be a fun way to teach her husband a thing or two about cooking with fire.
Smart may be a meditating, certified yoga instructor and a certified nutrition coach, but, “I’m not a dieter,” she says. “I believe in eating organic foods and having a somewhat-clean lifestyle, but what’s more important is balance. There are times when you indulge in yummy, delicious things and times when you eat healthy greens and protein-packed smoothies.” Her approach to diet also translates into her beauty and fitness regimens. “I run, I hike, I do some yoga, but it’s not always a priority,” she says. “And when I start beating myself up I have to remember that exercise can be as simple as going for a half-hour walk, and that’s okay.”
She even keeps her makeup routine simple, sticking to chemical- and cruelty-free brands like Jane Iredale and Josie Maran. “I put on a little foundation with a wet sponge, a dab of cream blush, and finish it off with a light eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara. That’s pretty much it.”
This no-nonsense approach may be an anomaly in Hollywood, where the pressure to look eternally young can be stifling. “I always want to look young and glowing, but that’s not reality,” Smart says. “At the end of the day, it’s your essence, it’s who you are that should outshine your physical beauty. Expressing your true self should be your number one priority, and then the beauty part follows naturally.”