hilary swank

From an early age, actress Hilary Swank knew she wanted to act. An interest in the craft, coupled with her natural talent, ultimately led Swank to make a significant change: leave her high school after her sophomore year and move to California. She and her mother, Judy, who recently separated from Swank’s father, drove from Washington to California in pursuit of giving Swank a Hollywood career, but things wouldn’t materialize right away.

Swank wrote in an essay for The Wall Street Journal, “In L.A., my mother and I first lived in her Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme on quiet residential streets. When we weren’t sleeping in the car, we stayed at the house of a new friend my age whose family had just moved out and were trying to sell their home. We slept on an air mattress.” The “Ordinary Angels” actress said after her mother landed a secretarial position, they were able to rent “a bedroom from a single mother in Burbank.”

She explained, “Starting out, I booked just OK television parts, but I didn’t care. I was excited to be living my dream.” Her circumstances in Los Angeles were not too dissimilar to her situation in Washington. “In Bellingham, we lived in a trailer park, which wasn’t a negative for me. I had food and a roof over my head,” she wrote.

Swank continued, “It wasn’t until my friends’ parents excluded me from dinners and playdates that I realized living in a trailer park made me an outcast. Though I knew I was perceived as different, I didn’t immediately understand classism. Then I did. I also understood that where we lived was a bigger issue for people than who I was.”

At her core, Swank was a star, now going on to have an illustrious career. She won an Academy Award for the films “Boy’s Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby” in 1999 and 2004, respectively.  In 2023, at the age of 49, she welcomed twins with her husband, Philip Schneider. They now split their time between Colorado and Washington.

She reflected, “Even though I’m happy we left LA, every so often, when I’m there for meetings, I’ll drive along a street in Pasadena where my mom and I parked and slept. Despite the challenges, I feel nostalgia for those days when we had nothing.”

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