Breathe in, hold, breathe out: The minds behind Calm, the mindfulness app

Both Tew and Acton Smith were seekers of serenity long before they even dreamed of creating Calm, writes Andy Martin

Sunday 23 May 2021 21:30 BST
<p>Alex Tew convinced Michael Acton Smith to pursue the idea of Calm after they shared a house together </p>

Alex Tew convinced Michael Acton Smith to pursue the idea of Calm after they shared a house together

At his charitable foundation in Texas, Matthew McConaughey gave out the Calm mindfulness app to some of the kids who had been stressed out by devastating storms and natural disasters of all kinds. And now you can hear him telling a bedtime story on the app, “Wonder”, or meditating (“Living with Intention”), and suggesting we might like to “drift away” with him to “peaceful dreams” – and not “fear the dark”. He has a very calm and soothing and reassuring voice. So too, I discovered, do Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew, the co-founders of Calm, albeit with a distinctively English accent.

It turns out that LeBron James also has a powerful and very deep voice as well as being a top basketball player. Now he is talking about his mental moves on the app too. And fans of Harry Styles might like to know that they can “fall asleep and fall in love with the dreamy voice of Harry Styles” in “Dream With Me”, also on the app. The fact is (in case you were wondering) that Acton Smith and Tew didn’t send any of these A-listers a cheque and persuade them to attach their names to an endorsement. Nothing so cynical.

“It was important that their support was authentic,” says Acton Smith. “We heard on the grapevine that they were fans of Calm. LeBron James wrote about it in an article. It was that way around. Then they became ambassadors.” Michael Bublé for one ­– completely unsolicited – sang the praises of Calm on The Graham Norton Show. McConaughey and James and Styles are just a few of the 100 million or so movie stars, rock stars, and mere mortals who have downloaded Calm to restore peace of mind amid all the mayhem.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in