Meryl Streep, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, has been nominated for 17 Academy Awards, making her the most-nominated actor in Oscar history as of 2013.
She has won two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Best Actress for Sophie’s Choice (1982).
Talking about her acting school experience at Yale, Meryl Streep says:
When I was there, from 1972 to 1975, it was a tiny program, and that was one of the great things about it. You were with directors and costume and scenic designers and you could see into the process of many aspects of theater… In those days it was purely a theater lab; the pressures of doing television and film were not yet present.
She also speaks about the competition that arises in acting courses:
The competition in the acting program was very wearing. I was always standing in competition with my friends for every play. Some people got cast over and over and others didn’t get cast at all. It was unfair… It wasn’t that I wasn’t being cast. I was, over and over. But I felt guilty.
Meryl Streep talked to the psychiatrist at Yale who gave her some advice that she never forgot:
He said, “You’re going to graduate in 11 weeks and you’ll never be in competition with five women again. You’ll be competing with 5,000 women and it will be a relief.” He was right. It was excellent advice. After I got out, I had a lot of unbelievably good breaks, but they didn’t seem designed at someone else’s expense.
After graduating from her acting course in 1975, Meryl Streep appeared in many theatre productions while auditioning for film roles. It took her two years to secure her first screen performance – a television film called The Deadliest Season. In the same year, she won a small role in the feature film, Julia.
In 1979 her career took off, thanks to her performances in Manhattan and Kramer vs. Kramer, and she never looked back.