Lessons from a Legend
In Prime, Uma's character turns to Meryl for some answers about life. Now, Uma gets that chance for real! "I think that I played it pretty cool when we worked together," Uma says before their interview. "But she's probably about to see what a huge, horrible, geeky fan, obsessed, passionate admirer of her work I've been all my life. She's an icon. She's a legend."
With her Legends Ball, Oprah honored 25 women whose inspiring lives and careers make them living legends. In that same spirit, Uma's going on assignment for the Oprah Show to interview her personal living legend and Prime co-star, Meryl Streep.
In Lady Mendel’s Tea Salon at the Inn at Irving Place in New York, Uma and Meryl meet for tea and talk about what it means to be a legend.
Uma: What does it feel like to be a legend? Does that feel real to you?
Meryl: No, it doesn't. It doesn't mean anything. I can't feel that. It doesn't land.
Uma: Does accomplishment give you comfort? Are you proud of what you've achieved?
Meryl: Secretly, when I go back ... if there's something on TV, an old movie...I hadn't seen Plenty in about 20 years, and I just saw a bit of it. I thought it was really good this time. And I don't think I could see that 20 years ago. That was very satisfying.
Uma: Did you go through this anxiety of feeling like by wanting a family that you were going to risk your career?
Meryl: Yes. When I was a young actress, we dealt with the legacy of Katherine Hepburn who said, famously, "You can do one or the other. You can't do both." It came to my mind when I was a young actress. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought, "Now I'll never be like Katherine Hepburn!" Well, no. But I have a perfectly good life. And thank God I have my children. My God, it's everything. But it's not without compromise or it's not without mess...but I like mess."
Uma: Did you take your children with you when they were little?
Meryl: Yes, I found they're very portable when they're little and they don't get much of a vote on where we live, which is good. My son was in so many schools before he was in the third grade and then we just stopped all that world traveling and shot things closer.
Uma: I've managed to work [near] home for two years. But it's that weird thing suddenly wondering, "Can it work this way?" It's scary.
Meryl: It is scary. But time away is time away. The great central question in every working woman is: Is time away killing my children on a psychological level? Or is it building independence and a person who values work and what people do?
"We live in a world that gives you the choice," Oprah says. "I think life is about fulfilling your whole self, not just a part of yourself. I think we need to start to honor that [choice] instead of making that the negative. ... We as women dishonor ourselves because we make one or the other bad."
"I know life is short and I'm a lucky woman. I think that you find your own way. You have your own rules. You have your own understanding of yourself, and that's what you're going to count on. In the end, it's what feels right to you. Not what your mother told you. Not what some actress told you. Not what anybody else told you but the still, small voice. ... Beyond that, I don't know. And it's the not knowing that's the good part. To me, mystery is the most beautiful thing—the fact that you can't figure it out—that's it for me. That's for sure."