“It’s not that I didn’t want to be a star; it was that I never perceived myself as being a star. It was a dream so far beyond the reach of reality to me,” Goldie Hawn once said. Still, she managed to work her way to stardom and sustain a career in both acting and producing over decades. So when her daughter, actress Kate Hudson recently sat down to interview Hawn for Interview magazine, Goldie had many insights to share.

While promoting Hawn’s comeback in the mother-daughter action comedy Snatched along Amy Schumer after a fifteen-year hiatus from acting in film, Hudson asked her mom what advice she would give to young actresses or young women in general. In turn, Hawn expressed her firm belief in developing one’s skill set. She explained:

“I believe you have to start with a craft; you don’t just start with a dream. You’ve got to put a lot of work in. If you want to pursue acting, then you go to acting class. If you want to be a dancer, then you learn to dance, which is what I did…. When you’re young, you start looking at what you want to do—not just who you want to be, but also what you want to do. And I think the tenacity to say, ‘I’m going to perfect that,’ is the beginning of a work ethic. It’s the beginning of a talent. I would say, ‘Perfect what you do well. Branch out and learn how to do other things. Dreams sometimes don’t work out. But what will carry you through your life is the authenticity of who you are. Start with learning how to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. And be really good at it. Learn what it is to sweat. Learn what it is to fail. Learn how to take rejection. Don’t personalize it.’ I always believed that I could become a dance teacher. I had a realistic dream.”

Goldie started dancing as a child and became a professional dancer as a young woman. But she’s described having “paid her dues” when at one point she became a go-go dancer in New York City dancing in a cage. One night, she noticed her reflection in the mirror, “And I saw this girl selling her heart out to nobody… Nobody cared,” she said. Still, while not setting lofty goals, she always managed to keep moving forward.

Goldie relocated to Hollywood and recalls the trepidation she felt rather than the “joy and excitement” that everyone around her seemed to be feeling. Even when she was picked out of a chorus line to be cast in a TV series, her anxiety was enough for her to seek counsel from a psychologist. Of this decision she says, “And it was the greatest move I ever made. Because, at an early age, in order to reduce your sense of imbalance, you have to learn more about yourself.” Among the insights she learned in therapy was to prioritize the way she regarded herself over how other people perceived her.

Goldie Hawn’s acting resume is full of vacuous-but-gleeful characters often referred to as airheads or screwballs with names like “Sunny” and “Giggly Girl.” But her film role as a suicidal fiancée in Cactus Flower earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress when she was in her twenties. Her career continued with box-office hits like Foul Play with Chevy Chase, but her signature film role is one that she also produced, Private Benjamin. Indeed, she received a second Academy Award nomination for her performance as a wealthy woman struggling through boot camp–but this time for Best Actress. Hawn went on to produce several more films–both comedies and dramas–from Wildcats to Swing Shift at a time when it was rare for an actress to produce her own films. With all the simple-minded characters Hawn has portrayed, indeed she has personally maintained an intelligence and inner strength while navigating her career.

 

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