This is the start of a new series called Small Beginnings; looking at creative film professionals and how they started their careers and got where they are today.
Ladies first! this week: Meryl Streep. Some call her the best actress of her generation. Born as Marie Louise Streep in 1949, she grew up in the township of Bernardsville in New Jersey and enjoyed performing at her local High School. She was known to have taught herself acting and quickly pick up accents and lines. Her majors in collage were English and Drama before she went on to study at Yale School of Drama. In 1975 she moved to New York and starred in 6 roles in her first year, soon to be seen on Broadway.
Robert De Niro’s performance in “Taxi Driver“ inspired her to audition for films but had a bad experience in her first role in “Julia“ in 1977 and wanted to quit acting in movies. She had her breakthrough with “The Deer Hunter” in 1978, thanks to Robert De Niro himself, who saw her on stage and suggested her for the film. The movie’s success exposed Streep to a greater audience and earned her her first Academy Award nomination. She rose to fame in the 80s but then hit her forties and got less positive reviews in the early 90s. But instead of giving up, she continued to work hard and fought to show that actresses can be great even after their “golden years“.
Throughout her career, Streep was known for her hard work ethic, occasionally called obsessive, but it earned her the place she is today. When she did not agree with something about her role in a film, she spoke out about it, not always with positive response. Others, like Sydney Pollack called her “so direct, so honest, so without bulls***“ and later her acting was called one of the most moving, instinctive and natural. Today she is one of the most loved women in the public eye and continues to go strong.
Thank you, Meryl for being such an example of perseverance, hard work and speaking out truth. We can surely learn a lot from her, not only about acting but about the value of family and equality for women. As a film community, we wish her all the best for the future!