love and war

25 Famous Women on Crying

Kim Kardashian knows.
Kim Kardashian knows. Photo: Courtesy of E! Entertainment

From Claire Dane’s impressively varied weeping moments on Homeland to Chrissy Teigen’s insta-memed sob-grimace at the Oscars, the internet loves crying celebrities. The unflattering freeze frames of celebrities genuinely feeling thingsscrunched-up faces, quivering lips, running mascara, snot, and all — are captivating for a reason: Because we’ve all been there, and it’s nice to know the very famous are not immune.

Unless you’re a robot or a mouth crier like Liz Lemon, you’ve likely had a moment when a sudden rush of emotions triggered a flood of hot tears rushing down your cheeks. In celebration of feelings, emotions, and cathartic sob sessions, we’ve culled together a list of funny, wise, and empowering words from 25 famous ladies who’ve owned their tears. Read on as celebrities like Jill Soloway, Condoleezza Rice, and Tina Fey discuss everything from weeping at work to bawling in public to crying in rage.

Jill Soloway

“Forget everything you’ve been told about how to make it. Everything guys, seriously. You know how they used to tell women that if you have to cry to go to your car, to go to the bathroom? On my set, I say if you can’t cry, you’re a liability. If you can’t cry, you can’t feel, and if you can’t feel, you better not be holding my camera for me. The camera is recording images of humans — skin and water moving over muscles and bone — that is feelings. And I’m just curious, how did the world of men convince us that feelings are their specialty? Feelings are our thing. They’re our thing … New rules. You can cry at work — in fact, you must cry at work. In fact, if you’re going to make a movie, do me a favor and think of it as ‘bring your tears to work day.’ Hell, while you’re at it, ‘#bringyourpussytoworkday,’ every day. You’re gonna need it.” — AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women 2015 Showcase, May 2015

Tina Fey

“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”  — Bossypants, April 2011

Arianna Huffington
“I cry a lot. You know, my friends here will tell you I love crying. Almost as much as I love sleeping. The reason for that is that I like to sort of get it all out. I like to start the next day fresh, you know, to put it all behind me. I like to really be able to say I have no grudges and no regrets. And in order to do that, you have to cry about the things that upset you and get them out of you … I don’t want to have a thick skin, because if you have a thick skin, you don’t let the good things in either. So, I prefer to be permeable, like a child. Have you seen how children are? You know, they can be really upset, they can cry, and then five minutes later, you look at them and it’s over. And that’s how I like to be. ” — Fortune, October 2011

Ronda Rousey

“I really cry all the time … Everything [makes me cry]. Especially during fight week. You’re supposed to be going super ninja death mode, but I’m really the most emotional ever. If I spill milk, I will cry … You go through every single inch of the emotional spectrum on fight week. You’re the most stressed out you’ve ever been, you’re the most pressured you’ve ever been, you’re the happiest you’ve ever been — it’s hard. It’s exhausting. That’s why these fights will sometimes be a couple seconds, but I’ll still walk out and feel sore from my head to my toes. Just because I’ve had my shoulders held up for weeks on end and they finally drop [after a fight].” — The Huffington Post, October 2015

Condoleezza Rice

On Dick Cheney writing in his memoir that she once “tearfully admitted” that she was wrong: “It certainly doesn’t sound like me, now, does it? I would never — I don’t remember coming to the vice president tearfully about anything in the entire eight years that I knew him. I did say to him that he had been right about the press reaction … But I am quite certain that I didn’t do it tearfully.” — Reuters, August 2011

Amy Poehler

How do you handle hard conversations without crying? “The first thing is that crying isn’t always bad, you know? Sometimes you have feelings and they come up and you’re allowed to feel them … In relationship conversations, tears can sometimes be natural and it’s not something you necessarily have to fight. In professional situations, sometimes tears are not appropriate when you’re talking to your boss … My advice would be to practice [conflict] in small ways because none of us are particularly good at it, and it’s kind of a learned skill. Also, just don’t be so hard on yourself if tears do come up … If someone asks you why you’re crying, you could just say, ‘Because of how wrong you are.’” — Ask Amy, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, June 2013

Gloria Steinem

“I don’t know about you, but if I really get angry, I cry … We try to stay in control too long and then burst out. Instead of saying what we’re angry about in a reasonable way, suddenly we just explode. A woman who was an executive told me once that she got angry in work situations where she needed to get angry, cried, and just kept talking through it. She had mostly men working for her, so it wasn’t so easy to be understood. And she would just say to them, ‘I am crying because I’m angry. You may think I’m sad. I am not sad. This is the way I get angry.’ And I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s still my goal.” — Lenny Letter, October 2015

Martha Stewart

Have you ever cried in business ever in your entire career? “Cried? No, I refuse. I cry, but I don’t cry in business. No. I don’t think business is worth crying over.” — Bethenny, September 2013

Emma Watson

“I’m really genuinely disturbed by this idea that men can’t cry and that they just can’t express themselves, they can’t talk about how they actually feel. I think that’s actually the saddest thing in the world … It’s crazy, it’s what makes you human! How you feel, being able to express yourself, being passionate, being emotional, it’s what makes you human.” — HeForShe Facebook Live Interview on International Women’s Day, March 2015

Serena Williams

“On the court, I am fierce! I am mean and I am tough. I am completely opposite off the court. My confidence just isn’t the same. I wish I was more like I am on the court. Nobody would know that I am constantly crying or complaining.” — Vogue, March 2015

So Sad Today

“Despite how it may seem, I am not a good crier. Like, I’m always afraid that if I just let go then my feelings are going to kill me. I’m scared that if I start crying I’m never going to stop: even though history has shown me that I always stop at some point. So I am definitely more of a bottle-upper. Actually, I guess what I am is a tweeter. Consider every tweet a tear not shed. But it’s weird that I’m scared to cry, because every time I do cry I feel so much fucking better after. It’s like, oh shit, why don’t I do this every day? … I don’t know of anything that makes me feel more alive. Crying alone on the toilet is probably the thing that makes me feel most whole.” — Vice, February 2016


“In order for me to feel confident with one of my songs it has to really move me. That’s how I know that I’ve written a good song for myself — it’s when I start crying. It’s when I just break out in [expletive] tears in the vocal booth or in the studio, and I’ll need a moment to myself.” — The New York Times, November 2015

Erica Jong

“When I was a kid, boys didn’t cry. By the time I became an adult, men were praised for being able to cry. But with Second Wave Feminism, crying was prohibited for women. We wanted to be tough. We wanted our men to cry … Crying means strength for men and weakness for women. Role reversal has got us. Now it’s brave for men to cry, but it’s verboten for women.” — New York Post, January 2008

Roxane Gay

“There are many ways in which I am doing feminism wrong, at least according to the way my perceptions of feminism have been warped by being a woman. I want to be independent, but I want to be taken care of and have someone to come home to. I have a job I’m pretty good at. I am in charge of things. I am on committees. People respect me and take my counsel. I want to be strong and professional, but I resent how hard I have to work to be taken seriously, to receive a fraction of the consideration I might otherwise receive. Sometimes I feel an overwhelming need to cry at work, so I close my office door and lose it.” — Bad Feminist, August 2014

Mindy Kaling

“I find it incredibly impossible not to cry when I hear Stevie Nicks’s ‘Landslide,’ especially the lyric: ‘I’ve been afraid of changing, because I’ve built my life around you.’ I think a good test to see if a human is actually a robot/android/cylon is to have them listen to this song lyric and study their reaction. If they don’t cry, you should stab them through the heart. You will find a fusebox.” — Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, November 2011

Jane Fonda

“The Fondas have always been cryers. My father once said, ‘Fondas cry at a good steak.’ … But I find my emotions are way more accessible than they were when I was younger and I’ve come to feel it has to do with age. I have become so wonderfully, terribly aware of time, of how little of it I have left; how much of it is behind me, and everything becomes so precious. With age, I am able to appreciate the beauty in small things more than when I was younger perhaps because I pay attention more. I feel myself becoming part of everything, as if I bleed into other people’s joy and pain. Maybe, without my being conscious of it, there’s the reality that in a few decades (if I’m lucky) I will be in the earth, fertilizing some of the very things I look at now and tear up over.” — Fonda’s blog, February 2014

Elizabeth Gilbert

“Spending a lot of time around maleness stunted me, in a way. It was beneficial to me in some ways, but in other ways it stunted me. And primarily it stunted my ability to know what I was feeling. Because it just seemed like I shouldn’t have feelings, or I should cope with them in a butch way, so I just put a lot of that stuff aside. It must have bottled up … After two years of crying every single day, I remember just thinking, Fuck, what if this is what it’s going to be? What if I look back on my life and I’m like, Well, I had a really great childhood and I had a lot of fun in my twenties and then something happened, and for the rest of time I was the person who woke up at four o’clock every single morning, sobbing. I couldn’t crawl out of this hole and it was so terrifying. And the only way I could get through it was to admit that I was a woman despite how hard I had tried to live, and write, and act like a man, that I wasn’t one. I was a woman that I had vulnerabilities, I had sensitivities, I had unfinished emotional business, I hadn’t grown up in certain ways, that there was a lot of stuff I was afraid of feeling and knowing and wanting.” — The Rumpus, October 2012

Joan Didion

“It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in ‘Wuthering Heights’ with one’s head in a Food Fair bag.” — Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1968

Gilda Radner

“It was okay to get scared, and it was okay to get depressed, and it was okay to cry and scream and mourn my health and get it out of my system. I thought I had to be a brave soldier … I always found that after a really good cry, I felt better about everything. I felt as though I got rid of some toxicity, that I got rid of some of the pain and the mourning.” — It’s Always Something, 1989 *

Claire Danes

On her famous cry-face: “I think people are made uncomfortable by uncensored expressions of emotion. But, you know, that’s my job. I don’t have those fears. I really have never been concerned about being beautiful on-screen. That’s just not my jam.” — Glamour, January 2014

Jill Abramson

On the devastating Politico piece about her: “I cried. I should say it went right off me, but I’m just being honest. I did cry. But by the next morning, I wasn’t completely preoccupied by it anymore. I had my cry and that was that.” — Newsweek

Tavi Gevinson

“Have you seen the movie Broadcast News [1987]? It is one of my favorites. [Holly Hunter’s character is] the only female producer on this news network and she’s really good at her job, but she allots time in her day to just sit at her desk and cry. And then she’s just back to work. I find that really effective. When I watched that movie, I was like, ‘That’s how it’s done.’ You don’t have to deny the part of yourself that’s emotional. You can confront it, get it out, and continue to kick ass.” — Interview, September 2014

Jessica Alba

“I remember when I was dying in ‘Silver Surfer.’ The director was like, ‘It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? Cry pretty, Jessica.’ He was like, ‘Don’t do that thing with your face. Just make it flat. We can CGI the tears in.’ … And then it all got me thinking: Am I not good enough? Are my instincts and my emotions not good enough? Do people hate them so much that they don’t want me to be a person? Am I not allowed to be a person in my work? And so I just said, ‘Fuck it. I don’t care about this business anymore.’” — Elle, December 2010


“I don’t cry loads. If I cry it’s because I’m very angry and I can’t do anything about it, because I’ve run into a dead end. That’s when the tears would come down.” — The Road to ‘Talk That Talk,’ May 2012

Aparna Nancherla

“If we aren’t supposed to cry regularly, then why is our skin made of tissue.” — Nancherla’s Twitter, October 2014

*This post has been corrected to show that Gilda Radner’s memoir was originally published in 1989.

25 Famous Women on Crying