Dame Helen Mirren seems to have life pretty much figured out, and in a recent commencement speech at Tulane University, the unlikely Fate of the Furious star was kind enough to let graduates in on some of her secrets, sharing what she calls “Helen’s Top 5 Rules for a Happy Life.” (Please, somebody option this in book form).
These include: “Don’t rush to get married,” “ignore anyone who judges the way you look,” and “treat people like people,” which all seem like sage rules to live by. But perhaps the most interesting part of the speech was when Mirren talked about her journey to feminism. After imploring graduates to be feminists regardless of their sex or race, because “in every country and culture … when women are given respect, and the ability and freedom to pursue their personal dreams and ambitions, life improves for everyone,” Mirren — now a leading advocate for women in Hollywood — explained that she wasn’t always so comfortable using the F-word:
“I didn’t define myself as a feminist until quite recently but I had always lived like a feminist and believed in the obvious: that women were as capable and as energetic and as inspiring as men. But to join a movement called feminism seemed too didactic, too political. However, I have come to understand that feminism is not an abstract idea but a necessity if we–and really by “we,” I mean you guys–are to move us forward and not backward into ignorance and fearful jealousy. So now I am a declared feminist and I would encourage you to be the same.”
She also threw in this helpful addendum: “Never again allow a group of old, rather grumpy, rich white men define the health care of a country that is 50.8 percent women and 37 percent other races.”
Mirren also took time to poke fun at her sex-symbol status (while outing all the pervy dads in the audience), riffing: “Today’s speech will contain advice for any of you born in England who decide to become Shakespearean actresses, and end up doing nude scenes in ten films. I mentioned that just to see if any of your fathers are getting out their cell phones now to Google me. Dads. Stop. Inappropriate. Put it away. I mean the phone!”
Funny and wise. Is Dame Helen available for weddings and bat mitzvahs?