Women's History History - Meryl Streep

Actress Meryl Streep is esteemed as one of the best actresses of her time. A versatile actress who excels in a variety of movie genres, she has won Oscars for three of her film performances and has been nominated for several others. Streep has also received 29 Golden Globe nominations, winning eight.

Born Mary Louise Streep on June 22, 1949, in Summit, New Jersey, Meryl Streep began her career on the New York stage in the late 1960s and appeared in several Broadway productions before appearing in films in the 1970s. Streep's mother strongly encouraged her daughter from a very young age. Streep has said of her mother, "She was a mentor because she said to me, 'Meryl, you're capable. You're so great.' She was saying, 'You can do whatever you put your mind to. If you're lazy, you're not going to get it done. But if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.' And I believed her.”

Although Streep acted in many plays in high school, she did not take a serious interest in theater until she was at Vassar College. There she became quickly known across campus, demonstrating a particular skill for mimicking accents and quickly memorizing her lines. She graduated in 1971 and went on to the Yale School of Drama where she earned her masters degree.

Streep moved to New York City where she performed in several plays before becoming interested in film. Her first feature role was opposite Jane Fonda in Julia in 1977. The next year she appeared in The Deer Hunter opposite Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. Also in 1978, she won her first Primetime Emmy for her role in the film Holocaust. In 1979, her portrayal of a woman who abandons her family only to come back and fight for custody of her son in Kramer vs. Kramer brought Streep her first Academy Award win for best supporting actress.

Meryl Streep has gone on to earn additional Oscars for her performances in Sophie’s Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011). She continues to star in films, including in 2015 opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer in Ricki and the Flash. As of 2015, Streep has received 19 Academy Award acting nominations, an industry record.