Meryl Streep: A mini-profile

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Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep is one of the most esteemed stars of the screen, known for her work in such diverse films as Sophie’s Choice, The Deer Hunter, The Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia! and Doubt.

Streep was born on June 22, 1949, in Summit, New Jersey. She began her career on the New York stage in the late 1960s and appeared in several Broadway productions. She began appearing in films in the 1970s and soon began earning major accolades, eventually winning Oscars for Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice and The Iron Lady among a league of nominations. Equally able to wow audiences in drama, comedy and musicals, she has come to be considered one of the greatest actresses of our time. A graduate of Vassar College and Yale Drama School, she is equally adept at performing on stage or in front of the cameras. Streep began her career on the New York stage in the late 1960s and appeared in several Broadway productions, including a 1977 revival of the Anton Chekhov drama The Cherry Orchard.

Streep broke into films in the 1970s with a role in the 1977 drama Julia. The next year she appeared in The Deer Hunter opposite Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. Also in 1978, she won her first Primetime Emmy for her role in the film Holocaust. In 1979, her portrayal of a woman who abandons her family only to come back and fight for custody of her son in Kramer vs. Kramer brought Streep her first Academy Award win for best supporting actress.

A chameleon onscreen, Streep spent much of the 1980s submerged in a variety of roles. In Sophie’s Choice (1982), she convincingly played a Polish woman traumatized by her experiences during the Holocaust. She won her second Academy Award—her first for best actress—for her work on the film. In Out of Africa (1985), she took on the role of a Danish plantation owner living in Kenya. The role earned her another Academy Award nomination.

As she reached her 40s, Streep continued to find challenging roles—a feat many mature actresses have struggled with in Hollywood. She received an Academy Award nomination for her work in several films, including two big-screen adaptations—one of Carrie Fisher’s novel Postcards from the Edge (1990) and the other of Robert James Waller’s romantic drama The Bridges of Madison County (1995), in which she starred opposite Clint Eastwood. Streep also received an Oscar nod for her work in Music of the Heart (1999), which tells the true story of a teacher who brings music into the lives of kids in New York’s Harlem neighborhood by teaching them how to play the violin.

By the start of the new millennium, Streep was as busy as ever. In 2002, she appeared in two critically acclaimed films: The Hours and Adaptation. Streep was then nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of author Susan Orlean in Adaptation. The following year, Streep lit up the small screen in the television adaptation of the award-winning play Angels in America. She won her second Emmy Award for her work on the program, which had her tackling several roles.

Streep got a chance to show some of her comic skills as a villain in the political thriller The Manchurian Candidate (2004). Continuing to explore lighthearted fare, she starred in Prime (2005), a romantic comedy with Uma Thurman and Bryan Greenberg. Streep played psychoanalyst Lisa Metzger, whose client falls in love with her son. She also played the inimitable magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (2006), for which she earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best actress. That same year, she was cast as country music singer Yolanda Johnson in Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion (2006), and continued in musical roles as Donna in the film adaptation of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! (2008).

Returning to more serious work, Streep appeared in the 2008 film Doubt, which addresses sexual abuse in the Catholic church. She played a nun who becomes suspicious of a priest’s behavior (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) toward a young student. Streep yet again earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nods.

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For the complete coverage of her life and career, please click here.

To learn all about each of her films, please click here.

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