I have always lived by a rule that says, “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” and I have found this to be mostly effective.
I was brought up by parents who gave me an inner sense of confidence, which I am forever grateful to them for. They were also realistic and honest and when my dad responded to my ambition to be an actress with “Most actors have something outstanding, but you are a great allrounder” I got the message!
During most of my early career I often found myself in meetings with all men and found very few senior women to be inspired by, but my more empathetic approach was often a good balance with the more task focused styles of my peers.
I want to highlight a few women who have inspired me over the last few decades.
Maria Montessori was a pioneer of theories in early childhood education, which are still implemented in Montessori schools all over the globe. Having experienced this method of learning in America with my first daughter I know it can make a big difference to a child’s education. My husband still mourns the fact that his dream of bringing a Harley Davidson motorbike back with us was hi-jacked by my daughters early schooling!
Second on my list is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She has carried out her role with so much grace and elegance, able to converse on any subject and with any subject! The fact that she was in the same school year as my dad also places her in context with our family life. If I could share a cup of tea with someone it would definitely be her.
A lady more familiar with playing the part of a queen is Dame Judi Dench, who has been gracing the stage since 1957, playing hundreds of parts including Sally Bowles in the musical, Cabaret, which I also played in my amateur days! I have always admired her and since my daughter has followed her dream as an actor, she too is hugely inspired by Dame Judi.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted another lady who has been inspiring to all age groups. Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand, has stood out across the world with her empathetic leadership style. She has outstanding communication skills and connects with people, not just in her own country but across the world. The level of trust and confidence she has created has been impressive to watch.
So, looking to the future where is my inspiration. My two daughters aged 30 and 28 do a great job teaching me and keeping me up to date.
Amy, the actor, inspired by Montessori all those years ago, has a voracious appetite for reading and has done a great job of pointing me towards important articles and books. Her support and leadership within Productions she has been part of has made me very proud.
Hannah has just qualified as a doctor, and during her training has tutored many young people on their way to success. The feedback I get from their parents confirms my slightly biased view that Hannah is inspiring others and provides a great role model. I think our future is safe in the hands of these young women and their peers.