Maybe you’re familiar with Natalie Portman through her significant role in the Star Wars franchise. Or maybe you’ve seen her in the thriller Black Swan, or you remember her as the quick-witted 11-year-old in the film Léon: The Professional.
Whether you know Portman as Queen Padmé Amidala – Darth Vader’s wife – Nina Sayers, Mathilda, or any other character, this Oscar-winning actress has quite the resume of talents that aren’t just exclusive to her acting accolades.
Natalie Portman was just 29 years old when she won her first Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Black Swan in 2011. She was also an Oscar contender for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the 2004 film Closer when she was 24, for which she took home a Golden Globe.
As a young student, Portman was equally if not more impressive. When she attended Syosset High School on Long Island back in the late 1990s, she made it all the way to the semifinal rounds of The Intel Science Talent Search, which is considered the nation’s most elite and demanding high school research competition. She also began her role in Star Wars as Padmé Amidala while still in high school and actually skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace to study for her finals.
After graduating, Portman attended Harvard University and pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She filmed her remaining scenes in the Star Wars prequel trilogy films during her summer break from university. While attending college, some claimed that she could damage her acting career by splitting her interests. “I don’t care if [college] ruins my career,” Portman told the New York Post. “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”
Portman graduated from Harvard in 2003 and began pursuing graduate studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2004. While there, she studied Middle Eastern Studies.
In her stunning role in Black Swan, for which she learned many grueling ballet techniques, Portman also earned a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award. Her most recent Oscar nomination came in 2016 for her role as Jacqueline Kennedy in the drama biopic, Jackie. The actress was highly praised for her expert treatment of Kennedy’s accent in the film while depicting her.
In terms of linguistics, mastering an accent may not have been too difficult for Portman. She speaks and has studied conversational French, German, Arabic, Japanese, and, as a native of Israel, Hebrew. The actress has dual American and Israeli citizenship.
In 2011, Portman became an ambassador of Free the Children, an international charity and educational partner. She hosted a contest challenging girls in North America to fundraise for one of Free the Children’s all-girls’ schools in Kenya. As incentives for the contest winner, she offered the Rodarte dress she wore at the red carpet premiere of Black Swan, as well as tickets to her next premiere. Free the Children’s all-girls’ school was also the beneficiary of proceeds from sales of Nude Grege #169, the lipstick Portman designed for Christian Dior.
Movie star, young scientist, accomplished scholar, linguist, and humanitarian. Judging by Natalie Portman’s diverse and lengthy list of successes, there will still be many more to come. A quote of Portman’s provides insight into her incentive toward expanding her experiences: “I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.”
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