The New Yorker:

Before she was the “unsinkable queen of acting,” as Michael Schulman puts it, she was still, well, Meryl Streep—a high-school homecoming queen, naturally. She has always been “a woman of uncanny ability and drive, blessed with a superhuman sense of self-possession,” Schulman writes. “But she didn’t always know how to apply her gifts.”

Meryl Streep’s Twenties, and My Own

By Michael Schulman
April 28, 2016

It seems like only recently that people in their twenties became the focus of sustained cultural fascination, or self-fascination, but perhaps that’s always been the case. “Few decades of experience command such dazzled interest,” Nathan Heller wrote in The New Yorker, a couple years ago, in a roundup of the latest haul of twentysomething-themed books. On an episode of “Girls” not long ago, someone told Hannah Horvath, in an effort to cheer her up, “You’ve lived all this truth.” She replied, “It didn’t feel like very much was happening.” So it goes for so many twentysomethings, at least the ones fortunate enough to stumble around looking for a plan: life experiences—big, small, weird, disappointing, joyous—accumulate, like puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together. And then, one day, the twenties are over, and one has, for better or worse, an adult life.

For the past two and a half years, I’ve immersed myself in the twenties of a distinctly uncommon person: Meryl Streep, the subject of my book, “Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep.” It traces Streep’s life from her suburban New Jersey high school (she was the homecoming queen, naturally) to her breakout roles in “The Deer Hunter,” “Manhattan,” and “Kramer vs. Kramer,” for which she won her first Academy Award, at age thirty. I’d long been obsessed with the swanning diva we know now, the “greatest living actress” who calls out Hollywood sexism and gives flawless acceptance speeches that manage to be self-deprecating and grand at the exact same time. The question I asked myself at the outset was this: Who was Meryl Streep before she was the unsinkable queen of acting? Was she ever just an aimless twentysomething, trying to make her way in the world?

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