Inspiring Women

Hilary Swank: Priorities & Critics

We talk with the uber-talented star about priorities, celebrity, her inspiration, and living in NYC.


This interview is one Urbanette had previously published, but since it is such a powerful interview, I felt it was worth revisiting.

When Hilary Swank walks into a room she commands attention. The star is uniquely striking and abundantly talented. When you see her in person it’s obvious why in she is named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.”

Hilary Swank: Priorities & Critics

For a famous actress who has earned two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and an Independent Spirit Award, Hilary is surprisingly humble and down-to-earth. Perhaps this has something to do with her trailer-park upbringings in Bellingham, Washington and the fact that she succeeded through hard work and talent — in a Hollywood where success frequently comes through family connections and industry contacts.

Hilary Swank: Priorities & Critics

For starring in her breakthrough film, Boys Don’t Cry, for which she won her first Oscar, she earned a meager $3,000. Hilary won the lead role of Brandon Teena after three hundred other actresses had been considered and rejected over the course of three years.

Hilary works hard for all her roles. To prepare for Million Dollar Baby, for which Hilary won her second Oscar, she radically overhauled her body by enduring three months of intensive physical training. “I had to eat about 210 grams of protein a day, so I’d drink egg whites and protein shakes and flax oil.” She nearly died during her training from potentially fatal blood poisoning. “I was in a bad way. It got to the point that where I couldn’t walk.” But Hilary shrugs it off, as if all actresses would go through this kind of torture. “My job was to do my best to look like a boxer.” And that she did.

I first met Hilary Swank at the Tavern on the Green in New York City. We were at an awards ceremony and she sat down next to me, said “Hilary” and stuck her hand out. My first reaction was to wonder how she knew who I was and there was a bit of confusion until we realized that we shared the same name — and spelled it the same way! We ranted for a bit about how we both have to listen to Hillary Clinton jokes, just because we have the same first name.

Over the next year I saw Hilary at the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, and she always made a point of saying Hello. Now, at the posh Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, Hilary sits comfortably in a chair, her left knee propped against the table. She is wearing black boot-cut pants and a delicately lacy black top. She excuses herself and gets up to pour herself a cup of coffee at the buffet. She brings the cream back with her, but decides against using it. Instead she pours half a packet of “Raw Sugar” into her black coffee and delicately takes a sip.

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 87 Comments

  1. Avatar of Eloise Ferris

    Eloise Ferris

    Already shared this article with my mom, she’s such a fan of Hilary Swank just like myself.

    • Avatar of Christine Wiggin

      Christine Wiggin

      My sister and I watched Boys don;t cry together and we liked it so much. We became fans ever since.

  2. Avatar of Genie Mackenzie

    Genie Mackenzie

    Being a celebrity can be a privilege. But living as a celebrity is not all about glam and money. They have to live with all the extras that come with it, especially the critics. All eyes are on you wherever.

    • Avatar of Hillary Williams

      Hillary Williams

      I have read a lot of celebrities going mad about paparazzi taking pictures of them wherever they go. Truly annoying!

  3. Avatar of Mona Murrell

    Mona Murrell

    Such an amazing article about Hilary Swanks!

  4. Avatar of April Henry

    April Henry

    I can imagine how much pressure was put on her when she finally got the role in Boys don’t cry considering hundreds of other actors who tried to steal the role And then they proved everyone she was the perfect choice when she was praised and got the Oscar award.

    • Avatar of Deanna Woods

      Deanna Woods

      Pressure when she was auditioning and more pressure when she needs to play the part of the character,

  5. Avatar of Diane Roth

    Diane Roth

    She was selected among the 300 other actresses who auditioned for the role, that was big! Then, she won her first Oscar, that was even bigger.

  6. Avatar of Jenni Wilson

    Jenni Wilson

    Talent, hard work, and dedication, these are what bring her to the top of her career!

  7. Avatar of Brandy Hood

    Brandy Hood

    For a model like me who likes to succeed in the field of Fashion, I really got inspired by this article as it shows how talent and hard work can bring someone on top even without pulling some strings.

  8. Avatar of Susan Rice

    Susan Rice

    Wow! Her preparation for the Million Dollar Baby movie was extreme. Her dedication is unquestionable.

    • Avatar of SUSMITA


      I do not think I can drink raw egg whites. She was amazing!

  9. Avatar of Ida Reeves

    Ida Reeves

    Celebrities love paparazzi because whether they took bad or good pictures, it will always be a publicity for their career. Part of the drama, I must say.

  10. Avatar of Jossen Row

    Jossen Row

    When she said that she is boringly clean, I was like, “what?”, okay, I hope so.

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