“After so many drive-in waitresses become movie stars, there has been this real drought, when along come class; somebody who actually went to school, can spell, maybe even plays the piano. She may be a wispy, thin little thing, but when you see that girl, you know you’re really in the presence of something. In that league there’s only ever been Garbo, and the other Hepburn, and maybe Bergman. It’s a rare quality, but boy, do you know when you’ve found it.” —Billy Wilder, director, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
May 4 marked what would have been legendary actress Audrey Hepburn’s 84th birthday. There are so many reasons to celebrate this remarkable woman. Her iconic style (is there anybody that looked better in black ballet flats than Audrey Hepburn?), her charity work, and her fabulous career are just the start. Hepburn’s outlook on life was absolutely unique and charming, just like her. Here are some inspirational tips from Hepburn that will help you in your career and in your life.
1. Embrace your uniqueness
During a time of Marilyn Monroes and Rita Hayworths, Audrey Hepburn presented a very different kind of look. She once said about herself, “I don’t have sex appeal and I know it. As a matter of fact, I think I’m rather funny-looking. My teeth are funny, for one thing, and I have none of the attributes usually required for a movie queen, including the shapeliness.” Her mother used to frequently tell her that she was unattractive, too. But instead of changing it, she embraced it and it made her stand out.
2. Do be a great philanthropist
Hepburn spend 38 years of her life working with UNICEF. Before she died in 1993, Hepburn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. She traveled the world to work with impoverished families and would promote her causes tirelessly. “Makeup can only make you look pretty on the outside, but it doesn’t help if you are ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the makeup,” said Hepburn.
Laugh as much as you can, according to Hepburn. “I believe that laughing is the best calorie-burner.” If that is how she stayed so thin, then I am going to start laughing every five minutes. She once said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
4. Take risks
Hepburn took some major risks in her career with the parts she chose. Playing a classy princess didn’t seem like much of a stretch for Hepburn, but when she was told she would have to sing and dance opposite the legendary Fred Astaire in Funny Face. ”I was asked to act when I couldn’t act. I was asked to sing Funny Face when I couldn’t sing, and dance with Fred Astaire when I couldn’t dance—and do all kinds of things I wasn’t prepared for.” But she did it, and it was one her best films ever.
5. Do take some alone time
“I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone,” Hepburn said once. The lady appreciated her solo time (she called herself an introvert). She was known for taking long walks with her Yorkie, Mr. Famous, and even after she was married she kept a house in Switzerland for quiet retreats. “I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”
6. Do have an extra-curricular outside of work you are passionate about
Though she never called herself a dancer, Hepburn continued to practice ballet into adulthood. It obviously helped her with her perfect posture.
7. Make your style your own
Though many of us copy Hepburn in her style today (I am pretty sure she is the reason I own capri pants and striped shirts and like to walk near Tiffany’s with a coffee cup in my hand), she was completely original. Hepburn once said, “Why change? Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it.”
She stuck to the classics and what she liked and created a fashion storm. Her son, Sean H. Ferrer, said of her style:
“lf the lines were pure and elegant, it was because she believed in the power of simplicity. If there was timelessness, it was because she believed in quality, and if she still is an icon of style today, it is because once she found her look she stayed with it throughout her life. She didn’t go with the trends, didn’t reinvent herself every season. She loved fashion, but kept it as a tool to compliment her look.”
8. Just do your thing
Audrey Hepburn didn’t set out to be an icon—she just became one by pursuing her passion and being herself. “I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing.”
Does Audrey Hepburn provide you with inspiration? Tell us in the comments!
Ask Sara Chipps, CTO of Levo League, where her inspiration comes from!