Meryl Streep '71 spoke about fame in the Chapel as the President’s Distinguished Visitor.  “The reason I’m interested in the F word,” she said, “is that I’ve read surveys that have shown young people don’t care how or why, but they aspire to be famous.  I wonder to what extent that’s true, and I would like to weigh in with my considerable expertise in this area.”

Noting that she had appeared in 24 movies since winning an Emmy in 1978 for her portrayal of Inga Helms-Weiss in the television miniseries Holocaust, Streep said, “The process of becoming 24 different women and crawling inside their lives and making them seem real is the biggest reward of my career, and the money is good.  But the accompanying demon, fame, is the beast that moves in on your honeymoon…listens on the phone, walks ahead of you into restaurants, hospitals, schools, pushes children aside, my own included, to get ‘one more photo, please.’  It makes every trip to the mall a self-conscious nightmare…and making new friends very, very tricky….  I guess what I’m saying is, the real measure of your life is taken in an interior vessel—your heart.

“Grabbing a cold gold at the Oscars was great,” Streep concluded, “but it didn’t come close to being handed my first born, or my fourth-born, for that matter.  Having my picture on the cover of TIME and Newsweek was a kick, but it didn’t touch seeing my mother’s face at her 80th birthday surprise.  One category of experience just feels authentic and real, and the other is virtual.”     The Vassar Quarterly