Here’s something really lovely about how the younger generation treats me,” says actor and model Andie MacDowell. “They want me to feel good about myself because they know that’s going to be them [one day]; they support me because they see their future [in me].” MacDowell recently hosted L’Oréal Paris’ sixth annual Women of Worth gala in Toronto, so she has the future of women on her mind.

Women of Worth recognizes 10 women across Canada who serv their community with philanthropic endeavours and honours each of them with a $10,000 donation to their organization. The event wraps up with the selection of one National Honouree, who receives an additional $10,000 grant to support their cause. This year’s honouree was Tara Torchia of Angels Ink Foundation, which provides paramedical tattooing services to those dealing with the effects of medical treatments or trauma—like hair loss, surgical scars or burns—to help them rebuild their confidence. “It’s a beautiful thing that L’Oréal Paris does, shining a light on women who have a unique gift of recognizing something in their  community that needs time and attention,” says MacDowell.

MacDowell has been a L’Oréal Paris spokesmodel for an astonishing 37 years—one of the longest-running beauty contracts in the business. “I started working for them when I was 27, and I’d just found out I was pregnant,” she says. “I was so afraid to tell them because I was scared they wouldn’t want to use me. But they did.” In fact, she continued to shoot campaigns with the brand until she was eight months pregnant and again soon after giving birth, which MacDowell attributes to L’Oréal Paris’ mission to “embrace womanhood.”

“I also watched them hire women who were very mature, and this was before I was my age,” she laughs. “I thought it was aspirational to see women looking glamorous and beautifu at all ages.” Now, at 64, MacDowell prefers a low-key look on her days off. “I use L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect 4-in-1 Tinted Balm because it’s so light and moisturizing,” she says. “An then I just fill in my eyebrows.” But on the red carpet, she fully embraces bold beauty choices. “It’s important to take chances and have fun because I’m definitely not a little old lady,” she says.

This was perhaps most apparent when she debuted her long grey curls on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet last year. “I’d always wanted to experience salt-and-pepper hair,” she says. “I didn’t realize ‘salt and pepper’ is a masculine term, but when I started looking for inspiration online, I couldn’t find [any photos of] women. So George Clooney was my inspiration,” she adds with a laugh. “When my daughters saw my hair, they said I looked ‘badass,’ which no one had ever said to me before.”

Last year, MacDowell starred in the Netflix miniseries Maid alongside her youngest daughter, Margaret Qualley. The series follows Alex, a young mother (played by Qualley) who escapes an abusive relationship and gets a job cleaning houses to provide for her daughter all while navigating an increasingly difficult relationship with her mother, Paula (MacDowell), who struggles with mental-health issues. “I loved watching the complexity of Margaret’s character,” says MacDowell, who calls her daughter “extremely brave.” “I wanted [Margaret] to be fearless as an artist because I was disappointed by how many limitations I’d created for myself. There’s nothing she won’t try.”