Helen Mirren’s on-point career advice is the best you’ll ever hear

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Anna Brech
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With a venerable Hollywood career spanning almost 50 years and reams of awards to her name, Dame Helen Mirren knows a thing or two about getting ahead at work.

She’s faced down sexism in an era where it was rife, and has always been disarmingly frank about lacking self-confidence and fighting for equality.

She’s the ultimate trustworthy mate – albeit one who happens to command an estimated fortune of £38million.

So, when she sees fit to share a few nuggets of golden career wisdom, we’re all ears.

“People keep looking at me for advice of all sorts,” the British actress tells Campaign in a new interview this week.

“I don’t know. I have no idea,” she says, before sharing some truly stellar guidance: “My advice is be on time and don’t be an arsehole. Grab your opportunities when they come with both hands, give it your all and then fake it.”

It’s succinct, to-the-point and sums up everything we love about the feminist screen legend.

The Oscar-winning star also has an interesting take on how to foster creativity.

While modern theory suggests more relaxation, taking time off  or getting close to nature is the key to firing up the imagination, Mirren believes insecurity has an important role to play, too.

“If you have got a creative mind, insecurity is part of the necessary process,” says Mirren, who helped youngsters discover their self-worth as part of a L’Oréal campaign in association with The Prince’s Trust earlier this year.

“It comes out of a questioning towards life in general. Maybe it’s this quality that drives creativity.”

Mirren, 72, has fronted a number of beauty campaigns over the past few years and she believes it’s important for the industry to move forward in conquering sexism and ageism.

“It used to drive me crazy that the ads promoting skin products were using pictures of 15- or 16-year-old girls,” she says. “As a 30-year-old, I used to look at that and think: what the f**k are you talking about? It was ridiculous. Pissed me off majorly. 

“Advertisers are only just coming out of that, and it’s taken them a long time.”

Though she has always been a prolific women’s rights advocate, Mirren isn’t entirely convinced that one of cinema’s most iconic roles could go to a woman.

“I think it [a woman playing James Bond] probably won’t happen,” she says. “But the fact it is being contemplated is a massive step forward.” 

Images: iStock, Rex


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.