The model, entrepreneur, and New York Times best-selling author talks leaving Los Angeles to build a life in her husband’s (actor Matthew McConaughey) home state of Texas.
Around 12 years ago, Matthew and I took the kids on a trip to his home state of Texas to stay with my mother-in-law. When we planned this visit, I didn’t know just how much it would change our lives.
I can remember playing with our kids on the front lawn of his mother’s house when a car pulled up. The driver rolled down the window, gave a sincere wave, and said, “Good to have you all here.” Then he simply drove away. I know this interaction doesn’t seem like much, but it was such a contrast to our home in Los Angeles and the busyness of the big city.
I was actually super happy in California. We had lived there for years and built a beautiful life. We had great friends, the kids were in school, and I planted and grew most of the fruits and vegetables we ate in our backyard. We even had bees! My family and I had roots in California, but I hadn’t realized that we also lived with a certain level of self-consciousness.
It feels like just yesterday that we were driving down the street in my mother-in-law’s retirement community. We had just pulled up to a red light and I turned to Matthew and out of the blue I said, “You want to move back to Texas, don’t you?” His answer was quick: “Yep!” Before the light even turned green, I said, “Let’s do it.” That’s how right it felt.
We uprooted our entire life to move to Austin, Texas. And as soon as I started putting down roots in our new hometown, I realized how supportive the community was. When people say they are going to show up, they do. When they believe in what you are doing, they invest their love and support into you. Community is a key element to daily life in Texas.
We’re extra lucky to be surrounded by family. My mother-in-law, who just turned 90, and Matthew’s brothers are all here. Having that connection, the ability to see each other regularly and spend time together, is irreplaceable. It’s important for the kids to be surrounded by people who love them.
There are numerous ways I have felt the support of this community. For example, we have a two-day charity event for Mack, Jack & McConaughey, which raises money for different charitable organizations. One year, I got the idea to try something new: a fashion show. Having community support made me feel secure that my ideas would be supported—and they were. This event has grown to host over 600 women each year and there’s even a waiting list.
“We uprooted our entire life to move to Austin, Texas. As soon as I started putting down roots in our new hometown, I realized how supportive the community was. When people say they’re going to show up, they do.”—Camila
In many ways, having this community has helped me to dream even bigger in my life. One of my dreams that has become a reality is my new children’s book, Just Try One Bite. It’s a playful story about three kids who get their picky parents to eat healthy, new foods. I partnered with Adam Mansbach to bring it to life. We worked for years on it and the end result was more than I could ever imagine.
The first time I saw my book in a store was an out-of-body experience. The very same week, we got a call that it was an instant New York Times best-seller!
I was born and raised in Brazil and moved to the United States knowing only three sentences in English. To now have a book that is doing so well is beyond anything I could have dreamed. Knowing that I get to share this with a community that is so supportive? It makes it all the better.
In a sense, the lifestyle in Texas reminds me of growing up in Brazil. I come from a family of farmers, and my dad has a ranch to this day. Though I grew up in a city, many of the people there come from farming families. I’m accustomed to a very welcoming attitude, but a formality, too. We grew up saying, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir.” When I got to Texas, I was like. “Oh my gosh, they do that here, too?” It felt so familiar to me.
I think there’s a lot of truth in the saying “Once a Texan, always a Texan.” I know it feels like that for Matthew. Where you grow up sticks with you—it shapes who you are. There’s always a longing to return to that place, and there’s a unique comfort in going back home. Now I’m just attached to this place. I love the spirit of the people here. Texas has become my home.
About Camila: The Perfect Bedtime Story
Always an advocate for healthy eating, Camila teamed up with Adam Mansbach (he wrote the popular children’s book Go The F*** To Sleep) to write Just Try One Bite. The story centers around three kids who are working hard to convince their parents to put down the ice cream and cake and start eating healthier foods—hello, reverse psychology!
Of course, it’s harder than it looks and the parents gag and refuse to eat broccoli and kale. The funny illustrations and rhyming story make it an entertaining read, and kids will definitely pick up on the importance of eating more healthfully. The book, which made Camila a New York Times best-selling author, is available wherever books are sold.
By Laura Morgan | Illustration by Katherine Streeter | Book cover courtesy of the publisher
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Drew + Jonathan Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s home and lifestyle magazine.