‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Star on What It Was Like Not Finding Success Until Her Fifties

Actress Ann Dowd tells the 2018 Glamour Women of the Year Summit how it felt to find success later in life, which when you get down to it is a thing we all need to consider, even – gasp! – writers:

by Ann Dowd

I want to tell you a brief story, if I may. When I was a young actress, 30 or so, I was on the way to my waitress job in my black pants and my white shirt and my black tie—glamour is not the word that would come to mind at all. Feminine? No. Nothing. I looked across the street, and there were several limousines parked outside the theater. And I looked at the marquee and it said, “About Last Nightstarring Elizabeth Perkins,” who was my classmate. I was going to wait on tables, and she was going to a premiere of her film that would launch her into stardom.

I got through the shift, and I went home on my porch, and I wept and screamed into the night, “When?! When is my turn?” And it was one of those dark nights of the soul—we’re all familiar, I’m sure. And a voice—I’m not kidding—quiet, probably from the inside, said, “It will all be fine. It will all be all right. You will be in your fifties. You will be 56.” And I said, “Oh no! No, no!”—missing the whole point of the voice—I said, “I’m not waiting until my fifties. I have no intention, so you can take that message and…”

Keep your love story alive.

Well, as it turns out, I was in my fifties, and I was 56 when I did the film called Compliance, which shifted things for me tremendously. But this story is interesting because what do you do between the ages of 30 and 56? Because, as we know, life is long. Life is short, but really life is long in that regard. So, darlings, I want to tell you a few things that I believe deeply in the hopes that it might, in some way, give you a moment to think.

Keep your love story alive—and by love story, I mean the love you have for the work that you do—for it is a pure and powerful dynamic, and it will sustain you. Pay attention and take care of it. We are here to do the work we are able to do, the work we love to do. It doesn’t mean there won’t be ups and downs; there will be plenty of them. Keep the love story alive.

For some reason I had an unshakable faith that all would work out. I don’t know if it’s because of that voice, which I tried to stop and kill, or because I just thought, I am an actress, and that is what I’m going to do….

Read it all at Glamour