Actress and model Brooke Shields, 56, was not at all surprised when she learned at a very young age that Hollywood favored younger, attractive women. What did surprise her, however, was the fact that after she turned 40, “the world” seemed to be saying that her life was “done.”
“You’re marketed to if you’re 20 or if you’re in dentures,” Shields told Know Your Value. “But the margin in the middle is a very, very full, vibrant generation.” In fact, Shields spent most of her career carving out a space for herself in that margin.
Shields said she is thrilled with where she’s at right now and wouldn’t want to be in her 20s anymore.
“I just now feel as if I'm my most powerful and vibrant, and I'm not bogged down by the same insecurities or the same pettiness,” Shields said. “I don’t give a sh-- the same way I did when I was a kid. I think I look sexier. I feel more myself. I feel like I'm living my life, according to my terms ... It's an interesting thing to be 56 and saying, ‘Now I'm ready to start.’”
Brooke Shields talks growing up in the public eye, embracing middle ageNov. 28, 202108:20
Aside from acting, Shields has embarked on new adventures. She is the newest face of True Botanicals, a clean skincare brand. When Shields began her career, it would have been unheard of for someone of her age to promote a skincare line. Now, her age is her strength; fans who have followed her career for decades are eager to know how Shields takes care of herself.
And just two years ago, Shields started Beginning is Now, a quickly-growing, lifestyle platform for women over 40. Through this venture, she made the leap from actress to entrepreneur, a title she initially knew very little about. Though there is inherent risk in trying something new, Shields did not shy away. "I feel lucky because I have belief in myself. And when I lose that belief, there are people around me who remind me of it,” she said.
Mother of reinvention
With over five decades in show business under her belt (she became a model at just 11 months old), Shields has learned to pivot multiple times.
Though she initially gained fame even before her teenage years by acting in movies like “Pretty Baby” and “The Blue Lagoon,” Shields quickly began forging a path for herself outside the studio lots, attending Princeton University and pursuing roles on Broadway. Then she once again found success on the small screen with “Suddenly Susan,” “Lipstick Jungle” and a slew of guest appearances and television movies.
And rather than solely focusing on her career, Shields used her fame to help others.
After experiencing crippling postpartum depression in 2003 after the birth of her first daughter Rowan, she wrote a book sharing her struggles in effort to help other women feel less alone. And when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Shields began sharing her lighthearted, at-home workouts—which often incorporated common household items like wine bottles. And when she broke her femur in early 2021, Shields focused on sharing her long, solitary hospital stay to highlight that there is “always something you can do to move forward.”
Shields said, “I was in the hospital for months. I had a staph infection, a blood clot, I had to get multiple blood transfusions. It was a really difficult period of time. But what I said to myself was, ‘What can I control?’ My physical therapy was the one thing I could control. Instead of doing it one time a day, I requested having the physical therapist come twice a day. And I just focused on learning how to walk again.”
And for the last two years, Shields has also focused putting one foot in front of the other—this time as a CEO.
Another new beginning
Shields’ online platform Beginning is Now features short movement videos (barre, stretching, acupressure and more), a series called “real talk” on subjects like body positivity and menopause and a digital store that sells leggings, bras and tanks.
Shields began the project with a very modest goal—simply helping others find community—but she didn’t have a background on the business side of things. Honest about what she knew and what she didn’t, she learned along the way. Shields has found herself in venture capital meetings Googling business terms like “cap table.” And in signing a recent contract, she scanned the document to find where the “talent” was supposed to sign, forgetting that she now signs documents as “CEO.”
One of the most important lessons of starting any new venture, Shields said, is not being afraid to ask for help.
“I'm surprised at how much I've learned as quickly as I have. I didn't even know the difference between a venture capitalist and a seed investor [when this started],” said Shields. “I'm not afraid to say I don't understand something. But I am smart enough to say, ‘Who's the smartest person in the room? I want you on my team and I want you to educate me. And we can both succeed.’”
Shields has been around long enough to no longer be deterred by setbacks.
She never wanted to be in a position of waiting for something to happen—she much preferred taking action: “Every time a door closed to me, I just looked for another outlet." And when doors closed, Shields told herself: “I still am ahead of the game because I learned from this. And I'll pivot again.”
Shields said that she’s not alone: “Every woman that I know who is over 40 has pivoted in some extraordinary way.” These women don’t necessarily start new businesses or find major success or make a large sum of money. In fact, they may stop something they had been doing previously—they may retire or help their children move out.
Shields wants to acknowledge and celebrate those life changes. “Once you come into this period of your life, you actually have more options,” she said. “We all have so much more value than society gives us credit for.”