Meryl Streep is considered by many to be the best actress of her generation. But as Meryl Streep will tell you, acting is about much more than pretending. At its best, acting is about being a student of human nature, and about empathizing with and understanding those who on the surface appear very different. And Meryl Streep is a master at her craft.

Widely celebrated for her versatility, Streep has built her career on a remarkable ability to transform herself each time she takes on a new role. With 20 Academy Award nominations and three wins to her name, she has received more nominations than any other actor, male or female, in the history of the Academy Awards. She has also received 30 Golden Globe nominations and eight wins, giving her the most nominations and wins of any actor, ever.

Meryl Streep’s cultural influence has been recognized by none other than President Barack Obama — twice — when she was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2010, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. And in 2017, her lifetime of achievement was honored at the Golden Globes, where she was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award by the Hollywood Foreign Press.

You don’t get to where Meryl Streep is without picking up a good deal of life wisdom along the way.

Here are our Top 15 Most Inspiring Meryl Streep Quotes:

Top 15 Most Inspiring Meryl Streep Quotes

Top 15 Most Inspiring Meryl Streep Quotes

I think that you find your own way… In the end, it’s what feels right to you. Not what your mother told you. Not what some actress told you. Not what anybody else told you but the still, small voice.

The minute you start caring about what other people think, is the minute you stop being yourself.

Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.

True freedom is understanding that we have a choice in who and what we allow to have power over us.

most inspiring meryl streep quotes - freedom

It’s good to push yourself and do what you don’t necessarily want to do, that if you’re not automatically good at it, you should try it. Trying is so important.

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.

My advice: don’t waste so much time worrying about your skin or your weight. Develop what you do, what you put your hands on in the world.

The formula of happiness and success is just being actually yourself, in the most vivid possible way you can.

Most inspiring Meryl Streep quotes - be yourself in the most vivid possible way

Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too.

Power, influence, strength — all those things can overpower what’s important in life. But as long as you have food and shelter over your head, if the necessities are taken care of, what makes us happy on top of that is very simple.

You have to embrace getting older. Life is precious, and when you’ve lost a lot of people, you realize each day is a gift.

Put blinders onto those things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.

Most Inspiring Meryl Streep Quotes - put blinders onto the things that hold you back

As there begins to be less time ahead of you, you want to be exactly who you are, without making it easier for everyone else.

People will say to me, ‘You’ve played so many strong women’ and I’ll say, ‘Have you ever said to a man, ‘You’ve played so many strong men?’

I think your self emerges more clearly over time.