Canadian Living - - Contents - TEXT ALEXAN­DRA DON­ALD­SON

A can­did Q&A with ac­tor He­len Mir­ren, who dishes on ag­ing, beauty and fe­male em­pow­er­ment

Just days af­ter pre­sent­ing at the Os­cars, while on­stage at the Women of Worth event on In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day, He­len Mir­ren ex­claimed that be­ing at a cer­e­mony that cel­e­brates women who help their com­mu­ni­ties was bet­ter than at­tend­ing the Academy Awards. It was only nat­u­ral to feel a swell of girl-power emo­tion upon meet­ing Mir­ren, hours be­fore the es­teemed ac­tor hosted the Toronto event hon­our­ing Cana­dian fe­male hu­man­i­tar­i­ans (where our own ed­i­to­rial direc­tor, Erin Mclaugh­lin, also pre­sented an award). Mir­ren has con­quered the stage, TV and Hol­ly­wood, with nu­mer­ous awards and ac­co­lades—in­clud­ing Dame Com­man­der of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire—yet still speaks frankly and ap­pears re­lat­able. In 2015, at the age of 69, Mir­ren be­came the face of L’oréal Paris and in­sisted that her wrin­kles were not to be re­touched. Now, at 73, Mir­ren has six films on the docket for 2018 and shows no sign of slow­ing down.

Q How has your re­la­tion­ship to beauty changed as you’ve aged?

When you’re young, you want to try the lat­est mas­cara and to look cool. But in a weird way, that pres­sure drops as you get older. You get more knowl­edge­able about makeup; you know what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s ex­tra­or­di­nary the in­cred­i­ble avail­abil­ity of prod­uct nowa­days. I’m a kid in a candy store when I en­ter a drug­store. I’m, like, “Oh, this is so ex­cit­ing! There is so much!” When I was in my 20s, there wasn’t that in­cred­i­ble va­ri­ety. What 20 years ago would have cost you an ab­so­lute arm and a leg is now so much more ac­ces­si­ble.

Q Women over 40 are rec­og­nized more in the me­dia now. What’s your take on that?

Women who are now in their 50s or 60s have been pro­fes­sional women since they were 20. They’ve worked, they’re suc­cess­ful, they’ve got opin­ions and they weren’t see­ing them­selves re­flected in the world of ad­ver­tis­ing. I was very much a part of the pissed-off gen­er­a­tion, look­ing at pho­tos of 15-year-old girls and be­ing told that was how I was sup­posed to look.

Q Why do you think it’s hap­pen­ing now?

I’ve seen an in­crease in the eco­nomic power of women and in their vis­i­bil­ity. Th­ese big cul­tural shifts—and ob­vi­ously we’re go­ing through one right now—have a lot of foun­da­tion to them. They don’t hap­pen sur­pris­ingly and overnight; there’s an enor­mous amount of build­ing blocks that lead to those mo­ments.

Q Why do you think events like Women of Worth are so im­por­tant?

I re­ally ad­mire L’oréal for what it’s do­ing. That’s one of the rea­sons I wanted to be an am­bas­sador. I love that a big com­pany is step­ping up to do more than just sell stuff—it’s about time.

Q Why do you love makeup?

We know we don’t wear it for men—well, maybe when we’re younger, but in gen­eral, we don’t wear it for so-called sex­ual at­trac­tion. We wear it be­cause, as one of the makeup girls said, “It gives us swag­ger.” I love that word, swag­ger. It’s just what you feel in­side, isn’t it?


At this year’s Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in Elie Saab Haute Cou­ture

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