Wise Words from Leading Ladies Who Were Anything But Damsels in Distress

wise hollywood women quotes
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What does old Hollywood have to do with your future? More than you know!

Now, when there’s a million people on the internet vying for your attention, it’s time to hit the mute button and breathe–it’s time to ignore the status updates and endless timelines and intentionally reach for the inspiration that you need.

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”
– Audrey Hepburn

At Like a Boss Girls, we want to transport you to another time and place by turning your attention to the amazing women who lived without the distractions we have today. Old Hollywood actresses from decades past had more than beauty going for them; they had a pioneering spirit. Most weren’t handed their careers. Like many actresses of today, they had to use their skill and talent to create momentum in an industry dominated by men and sexism. Despite their glamorous demeanors and portrayals of damsels in distress, these starlets were witty, wise and tough as nails. Their timeless and stoic ideals changed the narrative for women today.

1920s – Mae West

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
– Mae

Everyone’s life consists of a specific number of days. Yes, every day is a new day. If you fail one day, you can pick yourself up the next day and start again with a clean slate. In the entirety of your life, you only have one shot. Don’t let one day slip by where you’re not in control of your life.  

1930s – Katharine Hepburn

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”
– Katharine Hepburn

People who are incredibly nurturing and empathetic can be the biggest people pleasers, if they’re not careful. It’s one of those things that seem right to do at the time because they’re making someone else happy. If this speaks to you, be careful not to lose yourself along the way. Pursue your own interests and create a life which reflects your wishes, not those of others.

1940s – Judy Garland

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
– Judy Garland

You are an expert at being yourself. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to be somebody else. No matter how hard you try, you can never fully emulate someone else. Love something about another person and wish you could be that way? If so, then reinvent the attribute within your own life and become a completely new person who still stays true to who you are.

1950s – Marilyn Monroe

“If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.”
– Marilyn Monroe

Observing rules is over-rated. Some are made to protect me and you from harm, and to ensure fairness in business. We’re not talking about these laws and rules. We’re talking about the rules and restrictions have you made for yourself. Have you put yourself in a box? Break the box open and set yourself free.  

1960s – Audrey Hepburn

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.”
– Audrey Hepburn

Criticisms can be a tell for your own life. If you find yourself hell-bent on ranting and raving about something, step back and ask yourself, “do I see these same flaws in myself?” Maybe the reason you can so easily notice the flaws in someone else is because you identify with them yourself.

1970s – Glenda Jackson

“If I’m too strong for some people, that’s their problem.” – Glenda Jackson

People create labels for others because of insecurities and women have faced this throughout many decades. In a different era, most women were only expected to be feminine. But the plain and simple fact is that women can be anyone and anything they want to be. Want to be stronger than a man? Want to be a straight up badass? Go for it!

1980s – Cybill Shepherd

“No man bosses me around, and no man ever will.”
– Cybill Shepherd

You are the founder, owner and CEO of your own life. Live like you rule your own life and never look back. Create a game plan and take your life wherever you want it to go–leave the haters behind, men or women.

1990s – Isabelle Adjani

“I’ve suffered too much to hide my feelings.  I’ve learned that to expose yourself, to reveal yourself is a test of your humanness.  You must take the risk to disclose yourself in order to become more real, more human.  And even if the price is high.”
– Isabelle Adjani

The ability to show vulnerability is a strength. You, as a woman, have the right to open yourself to others or even cry in public without criticism. If you feel happy, laugh. If you feel sad, cry. Some people cry when they’re angry, or even happy. You have the right to feel and express any emotion, and still be the amazing woman that you are.

Lucy Ross | Editor-in-Chief

I went to NYU for Film & TV and had the entrepreneur’s spirit since being a tot when I contracted chores out to my older sister for a profit (ha!). I run Hello Lucy Design (a web management and design biz) full time as well as Editorial Direction for LikeABossGirls.com. As a full-of-energy go-getter, my motto is “Why the heck not?”. I'm a mid-western girl who has worked for the BBC in London, Nickelodeon in NYC, and Jazz Aspen Snowmass in Colorado. One of my proudest accomplishments was serving as Co-Director for three consecutive years for the Fusion Film Festival of NYU, celebrating women in film, TV, and new media.

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