Greenleaf's Merle Dandridge: Inside My Self-Care Routine

Exclusive: The Broadway star dishes her go-to snacks, her beauty routine and her reading recommendations as part of E!'s Wellness Wednesday

By Tierney Bricker Jul 08, 2020 7:00 AMTags
Watch: Healthy Food Options to Eat While Social Distancing

It's a busy summer for Merle Dandridge.

Not only is the fifth and final season of her hit show Greenleaf currently airing on OWN on Tuesday nights (seasons 1-4 are available to stream on Netflix), but she's also co-starring in The Flight Attendant, a new HBO Max miniseries with Kaley Cuoco.

With a packed schedule, a wellness routine is essential for the 45-year-old star, who revealed to us that she makes time to "Meditate/pray, write and sweat" every day, and her beauty routine that is completely free and can totally change your mindset.

And as part of E!'s Wellness Wednesday series, the Broadway star is opening up about her self-care routine, including her go-to snacks and workout, as well as her three must-read book recommendations. Plus, she shared the social media accounts and apps she turns to for positivity on a daily basis. 

Affirmation or Mantra You Tell Yourself:
I'm grateful. I'm grateful. I'm grateful.

How to Self-Care at Home Like the Stars

The First Thing You Do in the Morning:
Wash my face and make a morning tonic of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in warm water. It makes me feel cleansed, refreshed and nourished inside and out.

Three Things You Try to Do Every Day:
Meditate/pray, write and sweat. Stillness has served me so much when life gets overwhelming and gives my spirit space to really invite God into whatever I might be dealing with. I write because I'm an artist and I'm much more articulate on the page. I've always been athletic, so it's important to me to honor my body and keep it strong. Moreover, it's a great tool to digest and move through the stresses that a pandemic and civil unrest can bring.

Wes Klain; E! Illustration

Social Media Accounts You Follow For Positvity:
My Broadway buddy, Tituss Burgess (@instatituss), makes me belly laugh daily, but also gives incredible truth and safe space for the difficult conversations.

Priscilla Shirer (@priscillashirer) is a gifted communicator. She brings the bible to life in the most loving and positive way. She is also a smart, beautiful black woman. I love to lift up my sisters who are doing it!

Your Favorite Way to Break a Sweat Right Now:
My trainer, Amoila Cesar, gets lots of results out of me by appealing to my "no quit," competitive side. He yells and I love it. During quarantine, I got my fix by doing his 6 Weeks of THE WORK on Beachbody on Demand. I also love a rigorous barre class and need daily yoga.

Your Go-To Healthy Snack:
Half and avocado with a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon and a dash of truffle salt. Extremely satisfying.

Your Go-To Healthy Recipe:
Food is so important to physical and emotional health and, right now, comfort is also a big factor. Growing up with an Asian mother, soup and noodles are a huge staple. So, I love to boil a bone broth. I throw in garlic and onion, sometimes veggies, and I love to crack an egg into it.

Your Go-To Indulgence:
Travel. When you are on unfamiliar soil, you heart and mind are open to new things. I've had powerful, life-changing encounters on safari in South Africa, diving into the waves in Turks or standing in a temple in South Korea.

E! Illustration

Your Go-To Easy Beauty Routine:
Go for a jog. It brings so many impurities to the surface of your skin and the blood flow will increase your glow factor!

Your Current Feel Good Song:
"Mood 4 EVA" by Beyonce, Jay Z and Childish Gambino

Any Apps or Podcasts You've Been Turning to Lately:
The 1619 podcast is an excellent and informative piece EVERYONE should listen to. I listen to something on Insight Timer app daily. There are so many centering tools to be found there.

6 Celebrity Nighttime Skin-Care Routines

Your No. 1 Self-Care Tip:
Breathe. Watch a sunrise or sunset and breathe. Take a walk and breathe. Drink some water and breathe. Just breathe.

You Can't Go to Bed Without:
Taking a hot bath. It's a habit my mother instilled in me, so I didn't bring the dirt of the day into the restorative sleeping hours. In my adult life, it served me to help wind down at the end of the day. During my Broadway years, this was useful after an adrenaline filled evening.

What Is Making You the Happiest Right Now:
Making music and dancing around my living room. My career and daily life outside of quarantine revolves around creativity. Having playtime is nourishing to my spirit.

Your Reading Recommendations:

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: I recently discovered a big family I didn't know I had in Korea. I identified with President Obama's trip to Kenya meeting his family and not being able to communicate in words, but more in spirit and heart. This book is also a great look into the issue of race in the United States. The confluence of his being raised by white grandparents and walking through the world as a black man is so layered. Such a timely topic while examining the culture shift we are experiencing now.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo: This is a marvelously exhaustive look at the problem of racial inequality.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown: There is freedom in being true to yourself through transparency and vulnerability