Her innate ability to transform into any one of the roles she is meant to play, whether a role she can relate to or is very far from. She is able to be funny, sad, angry and villainous all at the same time. She can sing in addition to act and has shown us her skills in musicals like Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods.
Meryl is also a devoted mother of four children – Henry, Mamie, Grace, and Louisa. Each one of them is in some form of arts. Henry is a musician, Mamie and Grace are both actresses like their mom, and Louisa is a model and marketing professional. Their father, Meryl’s longtime husband, Don Gummer, is a sculptor. Art definitely runs in this family! Streep has won more Golden Globes and has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other individual in the history of the awards. She has won three Academy Awards and eight Golden Globe Awards; needless to say, she has been recognized for her talent.
Meryl is also a highly educated woman, she attended Vassar College for her Bachelors of Arts as well as Yale University for her Masters of Fine Arts. She always had her eye on acting, she knew she wanted to be a performer (except for that small blip of time that she thought about being an environmental lawyer). Her mother was the one to push her to act and we are so glad she listened and followed her dreams!
She’s been nominated for more Oscars than any other woman
Meryl has been nominated a mind blowing 20 times for an Academy Award – more than any other person in the history of cinema. She has also won three of the 20 times, for her role in Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, and The Iron Lady. Meryl has a very unique ability to bring such powerful characters to life in the most genuine and emotional way. Portraying a Holocaust survivor, a British politician and a mother are all just small parts of her own makeup.
She was a cheerleader in high school
During her middle school and high school years, Meryl took opera lessons to strengthen her voice (more on that later). However, she ended up quitting the lessons with the famed Estelle Liebling in order to be a cheerleader! Streep said, “I’d travel from New Jersey to New York to study with her. She was a great teacher and I was an idiot. I was a teenager. I thought opera was boring, and I wanted to be a cheerleader, so I quit and started smoking.”
She took opera lessons
Meryl took opera lessons with Estelle Liebling when she was just 12 years old. Over time she realized that she didn’t like the genre as much as she thought she would and after four years decided to quit. Streep said, “I was singing something I didn’t feel and understand. That was an important lesson—not to do that. To find the thing that I could feel through.” It was through acting that she found her true passion.
Her first acting jobs were in theater
Her professional debut came in 1975 when she was a part of the Joseph Papp production of Trelawny of the Wells. 1975 was also the year that Meryl moved to New York City to pursue her acting full time. She was then cast in no less than five theater productions, including The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V, and Measure for Measure. In Trelawny of the Wells, she appeared opposite John Lithgow and Mandy Patinkin.
She made her television debut in 1977
In 1977, Meryl was a part of a television movie named The Deadliest Season. That same year she also made her cinematic debut in the film Julia. In 1978 she took the role of Inga in Holocaust (which she admits was for the money but ended up gaining a lot more out of it). Meryl started at a ‘late’ age (28) but she got where she was going fast. Once she began acting, she continued to steadily work thereafter with no pause for too long. She has only been rejected 4 times throughout her career for a role.
Her highest-grossing film to date is Mamma Mia!
Meryl played the maternal figure in the film adaptation of the Broadway play Mamma Mia! Playing the role of Donna alongside stars like Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, and Julie Walters, was outside of Meryl usual serious roles. She sang in this musical and did a stupendous job in our opinion! A critic wrote that Meryl is “the greatest actor in American movies has finally become a movie star,” in response to her role in the film.
She did some serious training for her role as Margaret Thatcher
Meryl landed the role of first female British Prime Minister in the 2011 film The Iron Lady. Playing Margaret Thatcher was an honor for her but it didn’t come without a lot of preparation on her end. Meryl spent several months watching Margaret Thatcher broadcasts in order to get her mannerisms and speech down pat. She also met with people who knew the former Prime Minister in order to get a deeper sense of the woman that she was.
She’s Ivy League educated
Meryl attended Vassar College for her undergraduate degree. She then went on to get a graduate degree in Drama from Yale University. During her time in both colleges, Streep was a part of theater productions and all things drama. Her Vassar College drama professor said this of Streep: “I don’t think anyone ever taught Meryl acting. She really taught herself.” It was in Vassar that Meryl discovered her true passion for acting.
She’s fluent in Polish
Meryl learned Polish for her role as Sophie Zawistowska in the 1982 film Sophie’s Choice. In the film, Meryl plays the role of a Holocaust survivor in the film, which had her ranked number 3 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. It was her role in this film that won her another Academy Award for Best Actress. Her ability to master the language and accent was remarkable, convincing enough to have the Polish actors on set confused.
She met her first love on the set of Measure for Measure
Meryl was in a serious relationship with fellow actor John Cazale, whom she met on the set of the production of Measure for Measure, one of her first theater productions. The pair were together from 1976 to 1978 until his untimely passing from lung cancer. Meryl has said, “I didn’t get over it. I don’t want to get over it. No matter what you do, the pain is always there in some recess of your mind, and it affects everything that happens afterwards. I think you can assimilate the pain and go on without making an obsession of it.”
She replaced Madonna in a film
It was in the 1999 film The Music of the Heart, that Streep regained some serious acclaim and fandom. Madonna was initially set to play the role of the music teacher but Meryl took over the part when Madonna couldn’t do it. It was lucky for both the producers and Meryl who was made to play the role. She needed to do a lot to make the role as perfect as it needed to be, but she wasn’t afraid of some hard work.
She learned to play the violin for Music of the Heart
The hard work to prepare for the role of the music teacher in Music of the Heart, was the fact that Meryl needed to learn to play the violin. In order to do so she took intense training lessons – six hour a day for two whole months prior to filming. By the end of that time period, though, Meryl was a pretty decent violinist and expressed that in her role.
She got the last laugh with a producer
Meryl auditioned for the female lead in King Kong remake in 1976. Upon arriving at the audition, producer Dino De Laurentiis turned to his son and spoke to him in Italian, saying that Meryl was too unfortunate looking for the role. Meryl then embarrassed the producer by replying to his remark in fluent Italian, “I’m very sorry that I’m not as beautiful as I should be but, you know—this is it. This is what you get.”
She can sing
We mentioned earlier that Meryl took opera singing lessons when she was younger. She didn’t follow through on those but she did take other voice lessons when she was older to prepare her for signing roles in films like Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods, where she performed all of her own songs, whether pre-recorded or not. She can act and sing, incredible!
She overslept and missed her Law School entrance interview and exam
Meryl had a few moment there where she thought law school was the best path for her. Fate, on the other hand, decided to step in a ruin that chance for her so she would have the chance to act. On the morning of her entrance interview and exam, Meryl overslept and missed the whole thing! She was just 23 at the time but even she was wise enough to take it as a sign that being an environmental lawyer wasn’t for her.
Her daughters are her mini me’s
Have you seen Meryl with Mamie, Grace and Louisa? Well, here you go. You’re welcome. The three Gummer daughters are the spitting image of their mother. Meryl was once said to be unattractive and not very pretty, we couldn’t disagree more. Meryl has a unique look to her, a look that is not only beautiful but memorable. Her daughters inherited those same features, lucky for them!
She’s worth a whole lot of money
Meryl is worth an astounding $90 million. While there are many other stars who are worth more than that, Meryl has earned hers in the most rewarding of ways, along with accolades and praise from her thespian community. $90 million is no laughable amount. Meryl has donated some of her income over the years to various organizations as well as purchased some very nice real estate to house her many awards.
Her film debut was in the film Julia in 1977
Meryl had a very small role in the film, as most of her scenes were cut by the time the film got to the finishing stages. Streep has said that, “I had a bad wig and they took the words from the scene I shot with Jane and put them in my mouth in a different scene. I thought, I’ve made a terrible mistake, no more movies. I hate this business.”
She’s won the most Golden Globes in history
Meryl has been nominated for 30 (!!) Golden Globe Awards throughout her career. She has won eight of them, the most amount that has been won by any artist in the history of the award. Meryl is one of the most decorated actors in Hollywood and in synonymous with talent, dedication, and the dramatic arts. We would go into the many other awards she has gotten but that would take days.
She is not a religious person
Meryl has been open about the fact that she is not a religious person, saying, “So I’ve always been really, deeply interested, because I think I can understand the solace that’s available in the whole construct of religion. But I really don’t believe in the power of prayer, or things would have been avoided that have happened, that are awful. So it’s a horrible position as an intelligent, emotional, yearning human being to sit outside of the available comfort there. But I just can’t go there.”
She gave away her paycheck for The Iron Lady
Have we mentioned that Meryl is one incredibly amazing and generous person? Well, she is. She donated her entire paycheck for The Iron Lady to the National Women’s History Museum, which she is a spokesperson for. Streep said, “we think that women’ history needs to be told.” Streep is part of the team that is trying to take the museum from its digital stage to its physical one.
Her eldest daughters, Mamie and Grace, are actresses
Both Mamie and Grace Gummer, Meryl’s eldest daughters, have followed her into the world of acting. Mamie has been on shows like The Good Wife, Emily Owens MD, and films like Side Effects, Cake and Ricki and the Flash, where she played opposite her mother. Grace not only attended Vassar College like her mom, she has been in shows like the Newsroom, American Horror Story: Freak Show, and Mr. Robot.
She’s been married to the same man for almost 40 years
Meryl has been married to sculptor Don Gummer since 1978. The two married just six months after John Cazale passed away. Meryl and Don have four children together, Henry, Mamie, Grace, and Louisa. The family lives in a multi-million dollar home in a gated residential area in Connecticut. They lived in a large estate in Brentwood, Los Angeles for several years but eventually moved back to Connecticut.
She’s starred alongside her daughter
In the film Ricki and the Flash, Meryl acts alongside real life daughter Mamie. They play a mother-daughter duo on screen too, but with many more issues. Mamie was worried about working with her mother, saying, “There’s this one scene where I really was quite eviscerating and I was worried about if my words actually wounded her, but after the first take, I looked over and she just had this big grin on her face, so that was a pleasant surprise.”
She’s the spokeswoman for the National Women’s History Museum
Meryl could also be defined as one heck of a feminist. Meryl is the spokeswoman for the National Women’s History Museum and was asked to be so by the CEO of the museum. She wrote in a letter about Streep that “She just gets the importance of a museum like this that will honor women and show that they have contributed to the building of this nation in ways that they have not, to this date, been given credit.”
Her youngest daughter, Louisa, is a model
The youngest Gummer child, Louisa, stepped out of her mother and sister’s profession and decided that modeling was her path. Louisa is signed with IMG Models in New York City and has been in campaigns for Dior, Glamour, and Vanity Fair. We are sure to be seeing a lot more of Louisa in years to come, the 20-something has a lot more in store for us.
She left her Academy Award in the venue’s bathroom
We guess it makes sense that after your first Oscan win you would be too frazzled to remember to take it after you were in the restroom. That’s exactly what happened to Meryl after her 1979 Academy Award win for her role in Kramer vs. Kramer. Streep was in the restroom of the venue when she just forgot to take the statue from her stall alone with her.
She’s been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Former President Barack Obama awarded Meryl with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November of 2014. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor a civilian can receive. Meryl was part of 18 other people who were awarded the medal on that day, including Stevie Wonder. Her contribution to the acting world was noticed by the then-Commander In Chief.
She’s the godmother of Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd
Meryl was a very close friend of the late Carrie Fisher. When Carrie had her only daughter Billie, she asked Meryl to be her godmother. Throughout the years, Meryl has been there for the Fisher family, especially there for Billie when her grandmother, Debbie Reynolds, and her mother, Carrie Fisher, passed away only a day apart in December 2016. Having Meryl on your side can only be a good thing.
She’s all about aging gracefully
Meryl was asked where she seeks consolation from in terms of aging and death, she said, “Consolation? I’m not sure I have it. I have a belief, I guess, in the power of the aggregate human attempt – the best of ourselves. In love and hope and optimism – you know, the magic things that seem inexplicable. Why we are the way we are. I do have a sense of trying to make things better. Where does that come from?”
She terrified The Devil Wears Prada screenwriters
When Meryl got to the set on the first day of filming The Devil Wears Prada, she managed to scare the screenwriters to death. “She was terrifying,” McKenna remembers of the first time she saw Meryl as Miranda Priestly. “The first scene I saw was when she turns around to glare at Andy from the top of the stairs. I was so terrified by her look alone that I threw my arm out in front of the director like we were in a car wreck. I was so scared.”