Arts, Column

Learning a Lesson from the Successful Meryl Streep

At 20 years old, I was the youngest person in the room by a large margin—a few decades, to be a bit more precise. Lacking the key ingredients that ensure a large millennial turnout, the movie I came for would not feature the attractive, chiseled-abbed actors or CGI-saturated action scenes that prove so alluring to younger generations. Nope, I sat through one hour and 50 minutes of a film whose main characters included an unfaithful husband, a hopelessly awkward concert pianist, and a tone-deaf woman in a fat suit.

I loved every second of it.

No, really. I did. The movie was Florence Foster Jenkins, and the clueless, bumbling woman was Meryl Streep. Assuming the role of a music-loving socialite whose fervent passion for singing doesn’t exactly align with the quality of her singing talents, Streep entertained with yet another impressive performance.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Streep is a delight, and every performance of hers a treat. She attacks each role with unmatched exuberance. She’s undaunted by the challenging characters and opportunities she is constantly presented with. Having donned the identity of America’s favorite faux-French chef in Julie and Julia; assumed the part of a freewheeling, free-lovin’ romantic in Mamma Mia; and broken hearts with her performance in the emotional 1982 film, Sophie’s Choice, Streep has established herself as a personable, “everywoman” icon—perhaps because her impressive career thus far suggests that she has, quite literally, played every woman.

Now, before this begins to sound like an overly-effusive expression of my undying support and love for this New Jersey-bred actress, let me explain. Over the course of her expansive Hollywood career, Streep has done so much—she has been so much. The actress has made a lasting impact on her industry, and she doesn’t seem to be in any rush to stop now. Her motivation is admirable, and her portfolio of ever-accumulating accomplishments utterly inspiring.

I thought a bit more about Streep, and I realized what it is that fascinates me most about her. What I’ve concluded is that she’s a doer. She’s constantly working on a new movie. For decades, she’s managed the stresses of stardom and and emerged gracefully out of it every time. Though I’m no actress (one brief stint in middle school is more than enough stage time for me, thank you), I’d like to think of myself as a doer, too. Sure, I’m not effortlessly navigating the chaos of Hollywood like Streep—I’m just a lowly college student, after all. After this chaotic thing called college is over and done with, however, I want to have done something meaningful. I think I’d like to emerge unscathed, too.

It’s just the beginning of my third year here at Boston College, and I can’t help but feel that time has already slipped away, far too quickly for my liking. I’ve always liked keeping busy, my toe dipped into everything I can—a student council here, a school newspaper staff there. In high school, I loved playing sports and thought volunteering was a real hoot, too. The problem I have always had, though, is time.

There really isn’t enough of it. Sure, the sentiment is trite and overused, but it’s true, and it’s scary. And at a place with innumerable opportunities like BC, it’s easy to find oneself spread a little too thin.

With my remaining semesters here, I want to join more clubs and try my hand at volunteering again. I want to have scintillating conversation with peers and professors, and I feel obligated to at least try one of those classes at the Plex. What I really want, however, is to add a few more hours to the day. I want to get involved and make an impact on the world (you know, “set the world aflame” and “rise to new heights” and all that jazz), but I haven’t exactly figured out how to do all of that— how to be all of that.

As the credits rolled and our fellow moviegoers scurried down the aisle and out the double doors, my mom and I remained reclining in our large, movie theater seats.

“She’s good. She’s always good,” my mom said in reference to Streep, the two of us still sitting in the now-empty theater.

“Yeah,” I responded. “I don’t know how she does it.”

August 31, 2016