Jessica Chastain covers Marie Claire’s digital Holiday Issue. In the piece she opens up about being raised by a single mother, making sure the stories of real women in vulnerable positions are being heard and advice she gave her daughter on the future.
Advice to her daughter on what she wants to be when she grows up: “Normally I never talk about my personal life. But I had a conversation with my daughter not that long ago. And when you’re talking to kids it’s like, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘I want to be a ballerina. And she was like, ‘I want to be a mama. And I was like, ‘That’s a great thing to be. But you know, you can be more than one thing.’ She’s like, ‘What do you mean?’
I said, ‘Well, look at me, honey. I’m a mama. I’m an actress. I’m a producer. I’m a business owner. I’m a friend. I’m a cook. I started listing all these things. Like, I am many things, so you can be whatever you want. You can be the president. You can be a ballerina. You can be a mama. And it was so shocking for her to hear all of this.”
On being raised by a single mother: “My mom raised me. I was very close to my grandmother, who was single most of her life. I remember I was in sixth grade, my sister was in fourth grade, my brother was in first grade, and my mom was out working as a bartender. We were home all the time alone at night. It was just like, ‘We’re taking care of ourselves,'” she says. “There was no other option. My mom couldn’t afford childcare, and she was trying to just get us fed. Getting food was the big deal.”
On making sure the stories of real women in vulnerable positions around the globe are heard loud and clear: “I’m going to say something controversial right now, and I’ve had a margarita, so no one’s stopping me. I’ve done a lot of press recently, and a lot of people want to talk about Ukraine. But when I bring up Iran, no one wants to talk about that. I think because it’s a women-led revolution, and I think because Ukraine is mostly white people.”
On being fiercely protective of women: “I’m fiercely protective of women. To me it is my great fight. I use my job to try to celebrate women, but also celebrate women as human beings. Which means, yes, I can play characters that are flawed and do terrible things sometimes. It’s like my job is to constantly remind society that women are human beings.”
On demanding more than others demand of her: “I just demand more than anyone else could demand of me. I feel incredibly lucky to have the life that I have right now, and to make the choices that I get to make, to have the freedom over my body that I get to have. And to just sit in the ease of all of that—in the financial ease, the freedom-of-my-body ease—without trying to create it for others? I feel like that’s selfish. I just wouldn’t like myself.”
[Photo Credit: Jessica Chou for Marie Claire Magazine]
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