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How Jamie Lee Curtis's Enduring Career Defied All Odds - And One Piece of Advice She Has for Women
Jamie Lee Curtis

How Jamie Lee Curtis's Enduring Career Defied All Odds - And One Piece of Advice She Has for Women

The "Halloween" star shares her secret to a 45-year career and the advice she has for younger women daring to dream.

What is Jamie Lee Curtis's secret?

There is plenty of discourse in show business about how older women are routinely discarded, disrespected, and sidelined in favor of their younger or male counterparts. How often do you see older women headlining blockbuster franchises? How often do you see them being promoted on billboards and in magazines for their upcoming works? How often do you see them being fawned over by hordes of fans wherever they go?

It’s true: the entertainment industry isn’t known for being a welcoming, hospitable place for women over forty. However, one woman has managed to break all the rules to fortify an illustrious career spanning nearly 45 years.

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Jamie Lee Curtis thrived and flourished when everyone expected her to throw in the towel and withdraw from the public consciousness. Whether it’s her enduring Halloween fame or family-friendly productions like Freaky Friday, Knives Out or pairing up with Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies, she knows how to drive masses of people to the audience on name alone. 

Considered by many a national treasure, Curtis recently opened up about her resilient career, what she’s done differently to keep going, and the advice she has for younger actresses hoping to follow in her footsteps. 

Jamie Lee Curtis On The Longevity Of Her Career And What She's Learned

Young Jamie Lee Curtis  in workout clothes and leg warmers.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the 63-year-old shed light on her journey, the challenges she’s faced along the way, and the achievements that haven’t come easy. 

In October 2018, Halloween became the biggest horror movie opening with a female lead over 55. This milestone doesn’t only showcase the appeal of the classic franchise but Jamie Lee Curtis’s undeniable staying power — she doesn’t let up under any circumstances. Like many of her peers from the 70s and 80s, Curtis could have easily retired to the countryside, only taking part in one-off appearances that require little talent or artistry. 

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However, the actress continued to work tirelessly in a market that doesn’t always value older women. Additionally, she doesn’t sit back and play second fiddle to others; she makes a habit of leading, carrying and propelling ensemble casts, without necessarily hogging the spotlight herself. So why does she keep going?

“Whatever moment of clarity happens for people when you realize you have zero time to waste — for me, it really hit at 60,” she answered. Then, she thought to herself: if now is not the time, then when? If not her, then who? 

Jamie Lee Curtis Understands Her Purpose

Close up of Jamie Lee Curtis' face.

Curtis understood that her purpose was to deliver authentic, transformative emotion through the medium of film. Unlike other professions, there isn’t a government-mandated age at which you must retire. You keep going as long as you can bring stories to life.

“If I died without releasing all that creativity, that’s the real tragedy. It lit a fire under me,” she said. The Freaky Friday actress added that she’s never been more creative in her life: she is pitching movie and TV show ideas, she made a short Super 8 film, she’s consistently brainstorming new ways to improve her skill set. She’s even considering writing her memoir titled Die Alive based around this rallying cry that drives her to persevere every day: “I want to die very creative.”

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As the daughter of acting legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, young Curtis didn’t face the exact same pressures of making her mark. As a result, she could approach every project as a blank canvas, a fresh slate upon which she could project her whirlpool of emotions and interpretations. Now, this isn’t a novel technique but Curtis was one of the few who managed to master the process, establishing herself as a reliable asset studios could turn to whenever they needed a hit. 

 “I don’t understand why I’ve been able to do this for such a long time. I don’t think I ever will,” the mother-of-two told the mag. She stated that it isn’t her job to figure out why, either. Her job is to create brilliant art that engages, challenges, or at the very least, delights audiences, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Of course, not every piece of entertainment is going to hit home, as Curtis explained in the interview, but she’s still going to take a stab at it. “It’s my job to just do it. And I’ve been really lucky to do it in all sorts of areas — good things, bad things, commercial things, failures, high-profile things, zero-profile things,” she stated. 

Jamie Lee Curtis's Advice To Younger Generations: "Don't Read The Comments"

Black and white photo of Jamie Lee Curtis with hand on her neck.

When asked by the interview if she had any advice for younger actresses hoping to find longevity in the industry, Curtis remained diplomatic. “I don’t like to give advice, because to give advice is hostile,” she said. In her view, to impart advice is to make assumptions that your ideas are better than those of anyone else. It’s also not your business most of the time, either.

Nevertheless, Curtis quoted the darkly comic novel by Marisha Pessl called Special Topics of Calamity Physics: “Life hinges on a couple seconds you never see coming. What you do in those seconds determines everything from then on, and you won’t know what you’re going to do until you’re there.”

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Elaborating on how the extract related to her own experiences, she said that every single thing in her life, whether good or bad, has hinged upon a “couple of seconds [she] didn’t see coming.” So, if she were to offer a few words of wisdom to the younger generation, she would tell them to keep an eye on every opportunity. Never close the door to new experiences, and don’t be afraid of taking chances as a few seconds can change the course of your life. 

Learning to Seize Every Moment

Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger giving the thumbs up at the
Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (2022).

Additionally, Curtis never had to grow up in the age of social media and all the scrutiny that comes with it; therefore, she wants younger actresses to not “read the comments” because people will only want to hurt them.

They will want to pick them apart and laugh at them and judge them for each and every move. Being young is hard enough as it is; the addition of social media and anonymous squabbling only makes everything more challenging. “This portal of hatred and vile jealousy and trollers’ insecurities. And you’re not supposed to take that personally as a teenager?” she said.

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At the end of the day, Jamie Lee Curtis has a tremendous head on her shoulders and an eager attitude to work that has a tendency to outlast anything that comes in its way. She is focused on expressing her creative abilities for as long as she can and is unfazed by the stigma of getting older and what that means for her trajectory.

As she will tell you herself, it’s about seizing the moment for yourself and thinking on your feet. Sometimes your decisions won’t work out, but sometimes they will transform you from the inside out. At the very least, you can say that you tried and went for it. 


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