The Transformation Of Ree Drummond From Teenager To 52 Years Old

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Ree Drummond, who is known by fans as "The Pioneer Woman," has lived quite the intriguing life. A chance meeting one night in a bar after college turned her life upside down, and her transformation over the years has been truly incredible.

As Biography detailed, Drummond was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in January 1969. Though everybody knows her as "Ree," it turns out that was a nickname she was given as a child. She was born Anne Marie Smith and grew up with her orthopedic surgeon father, homemaker mother, and three siblings (per The New Yorker). She was serious about ballet dancing throughout her childhood, and her family traveled often and spent plenty of time at the local country club.

Drummond traveled frequently with her ballet competitions, and that sparked a drive in her to reach for something bigger than Bartlesville as an adult. She told People as a teen she felt there was "a big, huge world out there beyond this." As she considered her life goals, she "wanted to be an actress. I had no idea what that meant, but I just thought it sounded fun."

Take a look at her transformation through the years.

Ree Drummond embraced college in California

The desire to spread her wings prompted Ree Drummond to head to California for college, detailed People. She attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, a place she "inhaled" and "loved from the second I arrived" (per USC News). "I would describe myself during that time as extremely fun-loving and not focused at all. I just wanted non-stop action when I was young," she explained.

Drummond initially focused on broadcast journalism at USC, as she'd decided she "wanted to be Jane Pauley," she told The New Yorker. She shifted to "a completely random major" of gerontology, and spent the two years after graduation working in Los Angeles. Drummond later decided to pursue a law degree, and planned a move to Chicago. She went home to Oklahoma for a bit, with plans to start preparing for the LSAT, and then life took an unexpected turn.

The USC graduate met up with friends at a local bar, and there she met Ladd Drummond. As she spotted him drinking a beer, she noted his "big and strong" hands and apparently couldn't resist, a Pioneer Woman blog post shared. They were chatting with one another just minutes later and she expected to hear from him the next day. He didn't call right away, though, and she continued to focus on moving to Chicago. Four months later, he called, and it took just two weeks of dating for him to tell her he loved her.

Ree and Ladd Drummond got married and soon had kids

Despite their vastly different lifestyles, Ree Drummond stuck with her cowboy, believing she "had finally met my match," she told The Daily Mail. "It took all of five seconds for his quiet manner to turn me when we first met," she detailed. "In the short time I had been with him, I could see how complementary our differences were." Soon she grew to love his quiet lifestyle.

"When he asked me to marry him I stood frozen, my mind racing, trying to figure out what it would mean," Drummond admitted. She wasn't sure about what her day-to-day life would be, but she realized she'd "found love in the arms of a cowboy." She even considered running once after an embarrassing horse incident, crying she didn't "want to be doing this for the rest of my life." She knew she didn't mean that, so she pushed herself to "toughen up and face things."

On September 21, 1996, the couple got married and went to Australia for a honeymoon. She wrote in The Daily Mail, "His wedding present to me wasn't a diamond, a gold bracelet or even a blender. It was a diesel-fuelled lawn mower," but the gift didn't scare her away. The two had "decided to take the 'let nature take its course' approach to family planning once we tied the knot," she noted, and she got pregnant during their honeymoon. The couple's first daughter, Alex, was born in 1997.

A cattle rancher's wife and homeschooling mom start a new venture

Ree Drummond struggled to adjust to living on a cattle ranch in the small town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma (per USC News). "It was jarring. I'm living out in the middle of nowhere, no grocery store down the street. There were cows in my yard and mud was everywhere," she acknowledged. Drummond adjusted and carried on, and a new venture began 10 years after her wedding.

At that point, the family had expanded to include Paige, Bryce, and Todd too. One day in 2006, Drummond's husband said he was taking the kids with him to work cattle. "He said, 'You stay home and take time for yourself,'" she told The New Yorker. "It was literally the first time I had been alone in the house for a several-hour period." She decided to launch "one of those blog things," using the nickname "The Pioneer Woman" that she'd earned from friends years prior (per People).

"I think she just had all that creativity bottled up of 10 years of living out here with not a lot of extra adult conversation," her husband, Ladd Drummond, told People. "Being a mom and wife is very fulfilling but she obviously has a lot of creative talent and it needed an outlet."

Initially, Drummond blogged to share updates with her mom across the country and relay various mommy musings. The following year she was given a "Best Kept Secret Award" at the "Bloggies" award show.

Ree Drummond's empire expands

Ree Drummond expanded her blog to include photography and cooking tutorials, and as she reluctantly admitted to The New Yorker, her 2010 site revenue was "solidly one million" dollars. As her popularity grew, she started landing book deals and appeared on Bobby Flay's "Throwdown!" for his 2010 Thanksgiving battle. It was filmed on Drummond's ranch and she shared via her Pioneer Woman blog it was quite the experience.

"I started out by warning Bobby that if he wound up winning, he had to arm wrestle Marlboro Man. I can't remember if he laughed or not," she quipped. She added she knew she would lose to Flay, but "I just wanted Bobby Flay to come to the ranch and cook for me and I figured this was probably the only way that would happen. To what extent I would go down in flames was the only question in my mind."

"Throwdown!" wasn't Drummond's solitary Food Network experience, as she launched her own cooking show in 2011 (per Knox News). "The Pioneer Woman" quickly became a hit, but Drummond took some time to get adjusted to the new level of fame and fortune. "I don't look at myself as a Food Network star. I look at myself as someone who is just doing a little Food Network show. I'm either in denial, or I just don't see how this will change much in terms of our daily life," she admitted.

An expanded family and happy ranch life

The show definitely changed Ree Drummond's life, though, with more books, the creation of The Mercantile near her home, and other opportunities arising, detailed Biography. Some major personal family developments came as well. In November 2020, Drummond revealed on her Pioneer Woman blog they had a foster son, Jamar. "Fostering a kid was never something Ladd and I pursued or felt called to do, but Jamar's circumstances presented themselves to us in a way we couldn't ignore–so, long story short, all six foot five inches of him showed up at our house one afternoon, bag in hand, ready to move in," she explained. He started calling her "Mama Ree," and she referred to him as her "bonus son."

In addition, in May 2021, Drummond's oldest daughter Alex got married to Mauricio Scott in a stunning ranch wedding, which fans can see on Food Network in late June. On a more frightening note, Drummond's husband and nephew were seriously injured in March 2021 in a tractor accident. All in all, Drummond believes her life "has been so fun for me, because you never could orchestrate something like this. Everything's been a surprise, and that has allowed me to really enjoy it," she told USC News. "The country has really centered me. I found myself in the country. I'm not sure if I ever really knew myself before I moved to the middle of nowhere, which is sort of the irony in the whole thing," Drummond revealed.