Oscar winning actress, wife and mom of two, Natalie Portman, 37, says that one of her most important life lessons has been to take risks and conquer her fears. In an exclusive interview with w&h, she also talks about why she loves vegan food, making her mark as a female director and what she thinks true beauty really means…
Her approach to life
“I’m ready to be as daring as I possibly can. Fear is quite intrinsic to your life as a creative person, because you’re constantly putting yourself out there to be judged. In my 20s, I was overly self-critical and it took me a while to escape that kind of crippling attitude.
I try to stop thinking about all the negatives, so now I’m much more ready to try new things and let my creativity free. It’s extremely liberating!
I’ve also learned to take risks. I’ve realised that I can take chances, and even if everything doesn’t succeed as I expect it to, it’s not the end of the world. There will always be a new challenge to take on.”
Her core values
“There’s nothing more important than finding happiness in your own personal life. I’ve always considered myself very lucky and I know I’ve been able to enjoy a wonderful career – few people get that chance in this business. At the same time, I’ve realised that nothing else really means very much if you aren’t happy in your own world. Fortunately, I couldn’t be happier.”
On keeping her beauty regime simple
Natalie was a vegetarian for several years before she finally switched to veganism after she turned 30. She says her skin cleared up beautifully after she made the change, but she still insists on washing her face every night, and swears by Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 Micellaire (make-up remover), R211.
“My message about beauty is actually very simple. Just be yourself. That idea is what drew me to the Miss Dior campaign, where they portray this free-spirited woman who is both independent and anxious to indulge her passions. I hope that I can embrace that kind of spirit and passion in my own life. The campaign celebrates being true to yourself and not being limited by what others impose on you. I loved that message of personal freedom and expression. That’s my idea of what it means to be beautiful.”
What she discovered while living in Paris
“Living in Paris was so inspiring. It’s so interesting to plunge into another culture and experience a completely different way of living. The city is so rich in terms of architecture and culture, and there is a bookshop or gallery on almost every street corner – there’s a huge respect and appreciation for the arts. And everyone dresses so well! No Parisian ever walks around in shorts, and even the children look very chic.
I also felt lucky to be there with my husband and son, immersing ourselves in the language and culture. It felt like it was destiny that brought me to Paris. My father named me Natalie to pay homage to a song by French singer Gilbert Bècaud, I shot my first film (Lèon: The Professional, 1994) with French director Luke Besson. I miss living there but I’m happy to be in Los Angeles now – I love the energy and vibrancy here. Plus, they have great vegan food!”
Her greater purpose
“Watching your children grow and learn every day is a wonderful blessing. Lfe definitely changes when you’re a mom- you very quickly develop a greater sense of responsibility and maturity. But I’m so grateful for my life with my husband Benjamin – he enabled me to take on the best role of my life – being a mother. It’s been my greatest blessing.”
On her career goals
“I’m hoping to make my mark as a female director in the industry, and I hope other young women will do the same. There are so few female directors, but I’m very proud to be following in the footsteps of people like Barbara Streisand (who directed Yentl in 1983) and Lena Dunham (Director of TV series, Girls). I love acting but I’ve found that there’s also a lot of career satisfaction in being able to tell a story from your own perspective. I hope other women will maybe one day be inspired by my work as a director.”