In Meryl Streep’s Own Words…

Meryl Streep is a heroine of mine, who symbolizes elegance, wisdom, tenacity, conviction, passion and freedom.  I was truly moved to see her acceptance speech yesterday when she won an Oscar for her role in The Iron Lady. I felt compelled to understand her more.  Here are some of her quotes from imdb.com that evoke contemplation about the contours of leading our lives, especially as a strong, talented and self-knowing woman.

On Acting:

[2008] One of the most important keys to acting is curiosity. I am curious to the point of being nosy. What that means is you want to devour lives. You’re eager to put on their shoes and wear their clothes and have them become a part of you. All people contain mystery, and when you act, you want to plumb that mystery until everything is known to you.

It’s a lesson I learned in drama school: the teacher asks, how do you be the queen? And everybody says, ‘Oh it’s about posture and authority.’ And they said, no, it’s about how the air in the room shifts when you walk in. And that’s everyone else’s work.

[on life as a young actress] When I was 20 I busked to afford accommodation. One night I hadn’t earned enough, I actually slept in the open in Green Park [in London]. The view was of the Ritz Hotel and I vowed I’d stay there one day. And I have.

On Women:

It’s hard to negotiate the present landscape with a brain and a female body. (On her struggles as an actress earlier in her career)

[on Margaret Thatcher] We on the Left didn’t like her policies but secretly we were thrilled that a woman had made it, and we thought, “Wow, if it can happen there in England, it could happen here.” But we’re still waiting in America.

But … in my own experience of male and female directors, people have a much, much harder time taking a direct command from a woman. It’s somehow very difficult for people.

On Her Life:

I try to lead as ordinary a life as I can. You can’t get spoiled if you do your own ironing.

I don’t know what I’d do without my husband. I’d be dead, emotionally at least, if I hadn’t met him. He’s the greatest. – On her husband.

I think I was wired for family. You know how they say people are wired for religion, or wired for this or that? I always knew I would like to, if I could find the right person, have a family. I can’t imagine living single.

My daughters had helped me to stop worrying about my appearance over the years. I wasted so many years thinking I wasn’t pretty enough and why didn’t I have Jessica Lange‘s body or someone else’s legs? What a waste of time. (February 2009 about her appearance.)

There’s no road map on how to raise a family: it’s always an enormous negotiation. But I have a holistic need to work and to have huge ties of love in my life. I can’t imagine eschewing one for the other. – on her marriage.