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Hilary Swank at the Oscars

Advice From Oscar-Winning Actress Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank, the famous actress who has earned two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and many other awards, has succeeded through determination and hard work in a Hollywood where success frequently comes through family connections and industry contacts. The ever-humble actress is eager to impart her industry wisdom to aspiring and new actors. Perhaps this has something to do with her trailer-park upbringings in Bellingham, Washington and the fact that she started with small roles and learned everything about the industry along the way.

For starring in her breakthrough film, Boys Don't Cry, for which she won her first Oscar, she earned a meager $3,000. Hilary won the lead role of Brandon Teena after three hundred other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years.

Hilary works hard for all her roles. To prepare for Million Dollar Baby, for which Hilary won her second Oscar, she radically overhauled her body by enduring three months of intensive physical training. She nearly died during her training from potentially fatal blood poisoning. But Hilary shrugs it off, as if all actresses would go through this kind of torture. Now that's dedication.


Hilary Swank

New Faces Founder talks to Hilary Swank about the acting biz

Hilary Swank: On What It Takes To Be A Successful Actor

Hilary Swank sat down with New Faces founder Hilary Rowland to talk about where she got started, her advice for aspiring actors and what it's really like to be a successful actress. Here's what she told us:

New Faces: Can you tell us a bit about the acting industry and what it takes to be fully immersed in a role?

Hilary Swank: "[As an actor] you can't be as available as you'd like to be but it's one of those things you choose when you choose your career. There's pros and cons to everything, I mean, if you choose to be a lawyer you may have to work long hours as well. It's one of those things you have to just weigh. When I went off to do Boys Don't Cry; I told everyone that I'm not going to call anyone and I'm just totally unreachable for this amount of time because you just have to totally immerse. For The Affair of the Necklace I was a bit more available. I flew my grandfather and mother in to visit. My best friend visited as well and brought her kids. So you try to keep those avenues open."

New Faces: Where did you get started in the acting industry and why have you chosen to move back into theater and lower budget films?

Hilary Swank: "I started my career doing local theater. I think you just have to be happy with what you're doing and even though I'm getting this opportunity as an actress to work in film, I want to make sure that I'm doing theater too because that's what's inspiring to me. I reallylove theater. It's a totally different feeling; it's just so different.

In terms of the films I choose, I choose to do a film because I'm drawn to it one way or another and I'm lucky that I don't have to make career choices because of money. If a blockbuster movie came my way and I loved the story and I wanted to be a part of it then I would hope that I would gain whatever I was supposed to from that creatively. But with lower budget movies like Boys Don't Cry, you get a certain artistic collaboration that doesn't necessarily happen on that level when you work on a bigger budget movie. There are pros and cons to both."

New Faces: Is it hard to keep your priorities intact when you're constantly busy working and on set?

Hilary Swank: "I think that we always need to be questioning what it is we want to be doing with our lives and making our priorities very clear. I was always talking my priorities and now I'm really trying to live my priorities. You live once and you have to hopefully learn before it's too late what your priorities are. I ask myself often to make sure that I'm doing what I want to be doing and living the life that I want to be living and that I'm in check. All those important questions I think everyone should ask themselves."

Hilary Swank: "When I moved, a lot of people said 'Aren't you afraid to move away from LA where there are all these opportunities for you?' I do think you necessarily need to be in a town or a certain area. I'm really blessed and lucky for that because I love my lifestyle living in New York. I also want to do theatre and I have this wonderful new place in which to expand those career opportunities as well, and that's really exciting."

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