Meryl Streep
Photo by Jack Mitchell

"Listening is everything, and it's where you learn everything."

Meryl Streep (born 22nd June, 1949) is a highly awarded American who is considered to be one of the best film actors of her time.

As a child, she loved showing off in front of the camera in home videos.

 

She performed in many school plays, and was always good at singing.  When she was 12, Meryl started taking opera lessons, but she stopped after four years because she didn't feel like she really understood what she was singing. She still performed in many school plays.

Meryl decided to take acting seriously while she was at college, and studied drama.  Working as a waitress and typist while also studying and doing plays was hard, and she almost switched to studying law.  However, she persisted and became the very successful actor she is today.

Balance between work and her life is important to Meryl. 

"You have to get your life right before you can get your art going," she once said. "At least, for me, the things that matter most are peripheral to my awards or parts I've played.  My life is what matters."

When asked about acting, this was her response ...

Transcript (what is said in the video)

Interviewer: You've said that when you're trying to find a character you look for what comes out of the eyes.

Meryl: I think I meant that in connection to working ... I don't feel like I exist until I'm with someone ... else.

Interviewer: How important is listening?

Meryl: It's everything and it's where you learn everything.  And I always think of acting ... I mean, when I was applying to law school and thinking, well, 'acting is a stupid way to make a living and it doesn't do anything in the world', but I think it does.   I think there's a great worth in it, and the worth is in listening to people who maybe don't even exist, or who are voices in your past, and through you, come through the work, and you give them to other people.  I think that giving voice to characters that have no other voice - that's the great worth of what we do. Because so much of acting is vanity ... so much ...  I mean this feels so great, to come out here and sit here and have everybody clap. But the real thing that makes me feel so good is when I know I've said something for a soul.  You know, I've presented a soul.