Armed with Vassar College and Yale University drama degrees, 26-year-old Meryl Streep was eager to book her first film role. Federico De Laurentiis — son of the legendary movie producer Dino De Laurentiis — saw the actress onstage and arranged a 1975 audition for her to play the female lead in his father’s “King Kong” remake. When Streep entered the elder De Laurentiis’ office, he turned to Federico and, in Italian, remarked, “Che brutta,” which roughly translates to, “What an ugly woman.” Instead of slinking away, an emboldened Streep acknowledged his disapproval in her own perfect Italian. While she didn’t get the part, other producers embraced her talents, and within five years she had won an Academy Award, for “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Today, Streep has three Oscar wins and 21 nominations, the most of any performer ever. Here, the acclaimed actress advocates for making decisions based on your insight and instincts, and not letting fear derail the work.
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