Meryl Streep was wrong about one thing in her deeply-felt Academy Awards acceptance speech Sunday night. "When they called my name," she began, "I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, 'Oh no! Oh come on, why her? Again?" But I doubt that was true. Anyone who saw her performance in "The Iron Lady" would agree that Streep deserved her Best Actress Oscar. In fact, Streep, our best movie actress, probably deserved an Oscar most of the times she has been nominated in the past and walked away empty-handed.
But what was most intriguing about her speech was how right she was about what had helped make her so successful. She began by thanking her husband Don Gummer."When you thank your husband at the end of the speech, they play him out with the music. And I want him to know what I most value in our lives, you've given me."
Streep and her husband, who is an artist, have had a very private marriage.They have four children and, no doubt, he has been very supportive while Streep has had her incredible award-winning career. "He must be an important part of her success," says Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who has a private practice in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and who is a consultant to Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan. "Having someone who is always supportive, who is the number-one fan in your fan club, is a very significant factor in helping someone achieve. The person can be partner, a friend, a member of your family. But it is very important to have someone who when you tell that something wonderful has happened to you is genuinely and completely happy for you.Having that kind of support is important in many ways. It is also an important factor in longevity."
In "The Iron Lady," Streep also played a woman who had a supportive husband. Margaret Thatcher's husband Denis, like Streep's husband, was far less-well known than his wife but was always there to be the wind beneath her wings. "If the supportive person is a woman's mate, it really is very helpful. That part of one's life is settled, so a woman can really concentrate on achieving goals," Dr. Greenberg notes. "Frankly, I always told my girlfriends that I do my very best work when I am married."
Streep in her speech also thanked her friends-first, her longtime makeup artist, Roy Helland, who has been her friend for nearly forty years.She thanked her new friends, too, younger colleagues, such as Viola Davis, who was her closest competitor in the category and who many thought would take the Oscar.Davis had worked with Streep in the movie "Doubt" and they were both nominated for Academy Awards for their performances in that movie as well.
Streep is clearly a woman who values friendship and can make friends of different ages. "That is a real gift," Dr. Greenberg says. "And it so enriching to have friends of different ages as you get older. She clearly recognizes such relationships are valuable to her but, of course, they are mutually valuable."
So Streep's speech gave an insight into what beyond her great talent and her years of hard work had been instrumental in her success. And she expressed her thanks not merely for the award but for so much more.
Myrna Blyth is Editor-in-Chief of ThirdAge.
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