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Meryl Streep, considered by many to be the greatest actress of our time, discussed her life, career and more at UMass Lowell at the Chancellor's Speaker Series on April 1, 2014.
Meryl Streep's great empathy for her characters and the diversity of women she has chosen to portray has distinguished her work in film, television, and theatre for almost three decades. Since her debut in a 1977 TV movie, Streep – who holds the record for the most Academy Award and Golden Globe Award acting nominations – has established herself as one of the most prolific actresses in history, appearing in more than 50 films, as well as numerous stage productions. One of her trademarks has been portraying real people, from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “Iron Lady” to French chef Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” to whistleblower Karen Silkwood in “Silkwood.” She is also known for her perfectionism in preparing for roles, learning to play the violin and mastering countless dialects and accents.
Her many other notable movies include “The Deer Hunter” and “Kramer vs. Kramer” in the 1970s, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “Sophie’s Choice” in the 1980s, “Postcards from the Edge” and “The Bridges of Madison County in the 1990s and “Adaptation,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia!” in the 2000s.
Streep continues to add to her credits, with three new films in production, including the screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods,” and a fourth that will be in theaters later this year.
Streep has been recognized with acting’s top honors, including three Oscars, eight Golden Globes (also a record), two Emmys, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, two British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards and five New York Film Critics Circle Awards. She has also been nominated for a Grammy five times and a Tony Award. She was the youngest actor in history to receive the American Film Institute’s AFI Life Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. In 2010, President Barack Obama presented her with the National Medal of Arts.
She was a co-founder of Mothers and Others, a consumer advocacy group that worked successfully for 12 years to change the way toxins in the environment were regulated, and to promote access to organic and sustainably grown food. Streep continues her advocacy work with Women for Women International, the Women in the World Foundation and Partners in Health, among other organizations.
Her husband, sculptor Don Gummer, and she are the parents of a son and three daughters.