Part of one of the most iconic feminine foursomes in our history, Kim Cattrall was 41 years- old when she landed the role of Samantha Jones on Sex and the City as the brassy high-powered public relations executive who gets what she wants. There’s a scene where Samantha is shopping for an outfit and the sales clerk suggests she may be too old for the dress she chose. Venting some choice words that send the frightened woman running to the stockroom, Samantha proclaims she’s 52 and will “rock that dress.” Not unlike her character, Kim never let demographics dictate any steps on her path to success. Looking back, she shared with Dress for Success how she got the career she always wanted and how she’s constantly reinventing it to keep it meaningful each day.
It only takes a minute sitting down with Kim to realize her mellow demeanor could not be further from the racy reputation of her alter ego, Samantha. She’s calm, modest and even soft spoken at times, but when it comes to her career, Kim has taken a few pointers from Samantha’s forward approach to help her recognize her own self-worth.
“It was like a revolution in my life, playing a character who is such an empowered and confident woman,” says Kim.
She channeled her inner Samantha when negotiating a salary raise for the first Sex and the City movie. Like most industries, Hollywood is still a male dominated world, with women only making up 10 percent of writers and 15 percent of executive producers. Knowing she was standing on an uneven playing field only fueled Kim’s desire to fight for what she knew she deserved.
“I would rather be in a place and be heard than be in a place where I feel very compromised,” she says.
Though she admits standing up for what you believe in is intimidating, Kim suggests this is what gives women an edge. It’s the same societal parameters that hold us back that can also inspire us to find more creative routes to move forward.
Playing an empowered female on the big screen is far from Kim’s only inspiration. Growing up, she did not have a stable home life, moving from England to Canada and living in a car with her family while they drove cross-country. Despite a lack of material wealth, one thing that has always been present in Kim’s life is a supportive group of female friends and family members. Though Kim is best known for her part in the SATC sisterhood, it’s her real life female support system that has had the biggest impact on her. Knowing that others may not be as lucky, Kim believes it’s banding together to cultivate a culture of women helping women that is the key to empowerment and progress.
“We spend so much time in our lives as caregivers: as mothers, wives and sisters, but to be sisters to people who are not your blood, simply your same gender, that’s when change happens,” Kim says.
Realizing the importance of helping those who are coming up after her, she mentors many young actresses, even setting up a scholarship fund at her high school alma mater to financially aid young people entering into the arts.
“These girls are as passionate as I was at that age and I want them to have a life that is worthwhile and fulfilling to them. I would hate for them to take a job where they had no kind of future or were unable to express themselves,” says Kim.
Raised in a working class family, Kim worked tirelessly to reach fame at mid-life. Now as a single woman at 58, she knows the importance of financial independence. She set up a foundation to allow others the chance to pursue their dreams without the stress she endured early in her career.
As Kim’s career has evolved, so has her definition of success. Today, she says, it is all about how she feels rather than what she can get. When she was younger, she couldn’t work enough, constantly searching for the next role and defining her worth solely on that success. But as she’s gotten older, the same woman who once thought she was too old to play the part of Samantha has embraced her age, realizing jobs, priorities and appearances are all fluid.
Now that she feels the freedom to be selective with her work, Kim puts her energy into parts she finds meaningful and relevant. Recently, she appeared in The Boomer List, a documentary about the last generation of baby boomers, as part of the PBS series American Masters. And, she has partnered with Pfizer in the Tune In To Menopause (tuneintomenopause.com) awareness campaign to encourage women to learn more about managing their menopause experience, and to embrace this time of life. A component of this program provides a donation to Dress for Success.
Today, she is dedicated to giving a voice to the women of her generation, explaining, “It’s so important that, as women, we really take care of other women. As I get older, I get more aware that it’s not just about me and my work, it’s about everyone else around me. I want to give more stories about women my age, there’s so many of us out there, but there really hasn’t been programming to address us and the issues we face.”
Although success has taken a new form in Kim’s life, one constant has always been the support she’s received. Now she plays a large part in cultivating that kind of foundation for others and is redirecting her passion for women and the arts to give her career new life, during mid-life.
Kim Cattrall has teamed up with Pfizer Inc., makers of prescription treatments for certain menopausal symptoms, to launch the Tune In To Menopause campaign, which is designed to bring the conversation front and center and motivate women during this time of life. Kim encourages women to define their own “menopause style” at TuneInToMenopause.com. Visitors can take an interactive quiz about their approach to menopause and get a unique look into some of the changes they may experience. For each quiz completed, Pfizer will donate $1 to Dress for Success, up to $50,000. You can also enjoy Kim’s “Tune In” playlist on Pandora®!