Should anyone ever require proof that [insert whatever age you are] is really the new [insert age everyone generally agrees is desirable], they need only look at Jennifer Aniston.
Because it'd be hard to argue that the actress and executive producer of Apple TV+'s The Morning Show isn't living her very best life since entering a new decade a year ago. Satisfying new television series netting her a stream of accolades? Check. Thriving friendships and enviably healthy relationships with past partners? Yup. Enough unrivaled popularity to send everyone into a frenzy when she finally signed up for Instagram? Uh-huh.
She even ditched her tried and true LBD at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last month, having a moment in white satin Dior. All the better to truly standout while accepting her first SAG in 24 years, the unbelievable amount of time since Friends nabbed The Actor for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.
"I'm just shaking," she gushed to E!'s Jason Kennedy minutes later. "I did not expect that. I'm very excited."
At this point, though, we'd argue the 51-year-old should know that just about anything she might desire is possible. (So perhaps she should start working on that birthday wish.)
Because while she allowed that people had feelings about turning 50, telling The New York Times in September, "There's so much doom around that number," for the actress the milestone birthday was really just an acknowledgment of how long she's been killing it as a successful Hollywood veteran. "I'm entering into what I feel is one of the most creatively fulfilling periods of my life," she told the paper. "Seriously, I've been doing this for 30 years and I feel like it's just about to really bloom."
Add prescience to her list of skills.
The New York City-bred actress kicked off her year embracing friends old and new at her birthday bash, exes Brad Pitt and John Mayer and current Morning Show costar Reese Witherspoon among those circulating the back bar and pool area at her beloved Sunset Tower.
"We've all grown up together. We really have and it just feels like a really fun night to celebrate and cheer each other on and keep working," she told Extra of the reunion and the evening as a whole. "You don't really have that much of a life, so it's nice to kind of come out and put a pretty dress on and sort of celebrate your friends and their work and inspire each other to keep going."
And in between she did some pretty amazing things, any one of which would have been at the top of our year in review highlights.
There was the one where she reunited with all of her Friends costars in person for maybe the first time since they wrapped their decade-long run in 2004. "We all happened to have a window of time so we all got together," she told Howard Stern. "We laughed so hard."
That initial get-together, shared on Aniston's brand spanking new Instagram, only increased the yearning for an official on-camera reunion And whether due to fan's nonstop pleading or the actress herself leading the charge, it appears we're at least a little closer to something happening, potentially even a TV special featuring the likes of Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer alongside creators Marta Kaufman and David Crane.
And why shouldn't Aniston be the one to finally make it happen? She already conquered Instagram on her first run out, signing on to the social media site in October after years of insisting it wasn't her jam. Of course it was, the star basically breaking the whole damn thing with the number of fans eagerly rushing to consider her a friend, if not IRL, at least online.
She was also honored as the People's Icon at the 2019 E! People's Choice Awards, hosted a Friendsgiving with pals Jimmy Kimmel, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and former husband Justin Theroux, rang in 2020 with a group trip to Cancun, scored a Golden Globe nod, shared champagne with Beyoncé and Jay-Z and enjoyed any number of goddess circles with a crew of close pals that includes bestie Courteney Cox.
And that was just this past winter.
For the 30-year Hollywood vet, though, nothing has been quite as gratifying as her return to the small screen. Save for a few guest spots on 30 Rock and Cox's series Dirt and Cougar Town, she'd stayed away from TV the better part of a decade and a half, rightfully wary that nothing would come close to matching her previous experience on one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time.
"Friends was truly the gift of a lifetime and i would not be standing up here without that amazing show and those amazing five other actors and with an audience who stuck with us for a decade," she said while accepting her People's Choice Award in November. "It's paved the way for everything that I've had the chance to do since."
So why not come home?
When she whispered to a former HBO exec that she was interested in revisiting television, "I said to him, 'I just want to be a part of something great, I don't care where it lands,'" she recalled to The New York Times. "Because God knows, the movies have been great and they've been horrible, so you just don't know."
He came calling with something pretty awesome: the rights he'd acquired to Top of the Morning, Brian Stelter's much buzzed about deep dive into the world of morning shows—plus interest from Witherspoon, her pal since their days of playing siblings on Friends.
"We were so psyched," Witherspoon said of their initial chats, each signing on as both executive producers and actors, Aniston accepting the role of Alex Levy—a morning host left to deal with the fallout of her male coanchor's missteps—a part she's called her most complex to date.
"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," she told October's InStyle. "Plus we're addressing the ugly truths of how men have treated women in our society, particularly in the workplace, for all these years. 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."
When she learned it was Apple that had emerged victorious from the bidding war, acquiring the timely drama as the crown jewel in their new streaming service, "Reese and I both had this pinch-me moment," she told InStyle. "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."
Then she got to work, shadowing the anchors at Good Morning America and chatting up Diane Sawyer on everything from her wardrobe to her Red Bull consumption, hoping to create a character in her likeness. Throughout the seven-month shoot of season one, her fingerprints were on nearly every aspect of the show, the star providing direction on her character's wardrobe, apartment decor and reading choices.
"It's taken time for me to get where I am and I put a lot of work into my craft," she explained to the Times. "I've failed. I've succeeded. I've overcome. I've, you know, I've stayed around. I'm still here."
And she's more than earned this chance to call the shots. "Fifty was the first time I thought, 'Well, that number,'" she shared with InStyle. "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."
Beyond the fact that Aniston looks great period, full stop, she's found much to celebrate about her new status. "Women were never allowed to have power," she told the mag. "Power feels sexy to me today, as does women's intelligence and how capable and creative they are."
She has every intention to continue flexing all of the above for the foreseeable future. Having mentioned her 98-year-old grandmother, Aniston was asked if she hoped for that type of longevity. "I am all about living to whatever age I'm supposed to," she replied. "As long as I'm thriving."
Really, it's hard to imagine a world in which she won't be.