The first time I saw Audrey Hepburn was in a UNICEF commercial and I remember thinking how amazing it was to see a woman travelling to developing nations, helping people and shining a light on important issues. Her goal was to make sure no child died of a preventable cause. Seeing her make a difference in the lives of children really inspired my activism at a young age. Audrey wasn’t afraid to use her name to e ect positive change – she was a trailblazer. When I found out she was an actress, I knew I wanted to do the same. To be able to use my name in such a powerful way was something I aspired to do. In 2003, UNICEF named me an ambassador and it was a dream come true because of my admiration for what Audrey had done with her fame. We are fighting for so much in our country [the US] right now: children’s health, women’s rights, immigration and equality. I feel like every day is a new fight.
My earliest memory of my mum, Lin, is of her drawing in her sketchpad. She was a fashion designer when I was little, and watching her draw sparked my own creativity. I knew I was going to be an artist when I grew up, no matter what platform that art took. My mum also owned her own store, and having a strong, successful, working mum gave me the confidence to be all of those things as well. I’m using the lessons she taught me about family to raise my children now. I have a girl and a boy [Elizabella, four, and Milo, seven]. No matter what’s going on, we all eat dinner together at the same time – just like I did when I was little. Mum taught me how to be nurturing and how to give my kids the freedom to be who they are. She shaped my belief that women need to support each other and hold [them] in high regard. We need to cherish [one another], she taught me that.
Growing up in the entertainment industry can be very rough – even in the best circumstances. It is difficult because you are not doing normal kid things, you’re not going to school or to the prom. When I started on [US sitcom] Who’s the Boss? [at age 10], Judith [who played the female lead, Angela Bower] was there for me. She was influential in my formative teenage years – almost like a second mother. I felt as though she understood my struggles. I just wanted to be a normal kid and experience normal high school. She was very supportive throughout that time in my life. Judith was also an activist in the ’80s; she fought for gay rights and advocated for people who were HIV-positive. The fact that she was brave enough to use her voice to fight for equality inspired me a lot.To be able to look up to her while I was at work, and then go home and look up to my mum, was such a gift.
This article appeared in the December issue of marie claire.