Marlee Matlin on the Importance of Mentors
Asked about the most defining moment in her life, Oscar®-winning actor Marlee Matlin recalls meeting Henry Winkler when she was 12 years old. He was "more famous than President Carter at the time," she remembers, and the actor had some profound advice for the aspiring young thespian. "When I told him I wanted to be an actor just like him in Hollywood," she explains, "he was the one who said you could do it. And that stuck with me. And eight years later, I had an Oscar® in my hand."
[Mentors] don't necessarily hold your hand, but they let you think for yourself.
By earning the Academy Award in 1987 for 'Children of a Lesser God,' Matlin, who faced particular challenges because she is deaf, became the youngest actress ever to win for Best Actress. She explains how mentors are valuable in any person's life, not just for their advice but for their wisdom in allowing people to make their own decisions. "They don't necessarily hold your hand," she says, "but they let you think for yourself." Those are words that Henry Winkler would doubtless be proud to hear today.