‘I didn’t feel worthy’: Julie Andrews opens up on early struggle with fame

Nov 02, 2019
Julie Andrews opened up about her struggles with fame during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show. Source: Getty

Julie Andrews is one of the most famous stars to grace the screens over the years, but the star has admitted the fame was difficult to deal with in the beginning and she had to turn to therapy for help.

While a successful start to a career is the dream for many aspiring actors, the 84-year-old claimed it was a struggle and at times she even questioned whether she was worthy of all the praise. Appearing on American talk show, The Graham Norton Show, Andrews said she hid her Oscar away from sight for fear she was undeserving, The Daily Mail reports.

Although she is still to this day congratulated for her role role of Mary Poppins, the star explained at the time of receiving the 1965 Best Actress award, it didn’t quite sit right.

“I kept the Oscar in the attic for a very long time because I thought I’d been given it as a welcome to Hollywood and I didn’t feel worthy of it,” she said on the program, according to The Daily Mail. “So much early success sent me into therapy and analysis.”

Continuing on she added: “I learnt you have to do it right and honour the films you are making. It’s a huge gift, but a lot of obligation.”

Andrews appeared on the show to promote her new book, ‘In Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years’ which follows her journey throughout fame, including the highlights and the downfalls. Speaking in depth about the events that carried out, the talented actress mentions everything from her countless films,  her emotions and being a parent.

“In ‘Home Work’ I am telling the story of my adult life,” she explained to the Chicago Tribune. “I wanted to write about how things came at me, about paying my dues, about learning my craft, learning who I was, learning to parent, all the homework that I did.”

While Mary Poppins remains a favourite childhood movie for many around the world, earlier this year it copped some criticism from an American academic, who accused the lead character in the 1964 classic of “blacking up” in one scene.

Writing exclusively for The New York Times, Daniel Pollack-Pelzner – a gender studies professor at Linfield College in the US – claimed the iconic chimney sweep scene where Andrews and Van Dyke sing ‘Step in Time’ could be seen as ‘racist’ because their faces are covered in black soot. Rather than wiping the soot off her face, Mary Poppins rubs it in, making her face dirtier. Pollack-Pelzner pointed out that the scene may seem comical – if it weren’t for P. L. Travers’ novels on which the film was based.

He pointed out that in the 1943 book Mary Poppins Opens the Door, a housemaid calls a man a “black heathen” when he reaches out his hand and later calls him a “Hottentot” – an archaic slur for black South Africans. For Pollack-Pelzner, the film is problematic because character Admiral Boom calls chimney sweeps in the film Hottentots.

“We’re in on the joke, such as it is: These aren’t really black Africans; they’re grinning white dancers in blackface,” he wrote. “It’s a parody of black menace; it’s even posted on a white nationalist website as evidence of the film’s racial hierarchy.”

Pollack-Pelzner pointed out Hottentot was also used in 1952’s Mary Poppins in the Park novel, with Mary herself reportedly telling a young child that he’s behaving like a Hottentot.

“The 1964 film replays this racial panic in a farcical key,” Pollack-Pelzner wrote. “When the dark figures of the chimney sweeps step in time on a roof, a naval buffoon, Admiral Boom, shouts, ‘We’re being attacked by Hottentots!’ and orders his cannon to be fired at the ‘cheeky devils’.”

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