I didn’t really want to like Natalie Portman - her image is a bit too cutesy for me, I think her acting is overrated, and the stain of the last three Star Wars movies is awful hard to wash off. What can I say, I’m human, and all humans have some bias in their soul.
But after putting in the effort to learn a thing or two about her, she has earned my respect. She once said “I’d rather be smart than be a movie star,” and she apparently meant it. She speaks five languages (and is learning more), and has taken time out of acting for her education - first a BA at Harvard, then graduate studies at Hebrew University. She has also done some work to promote micro-lending for women-owned businesses in poor countries.
I particularly respect her latest dabbling: acting as guest editor for Scholastic MATH, a mag that helps teens appreciate the fun and relevance of mathematics.
This is what she has to say:
“Math was one of my favorite subjects in school. It always gets a bad rap and I’m not sure why. I always found math to be such an exciting avenue to think about the world in new and different ways.
Sure, you need to use math daily for knowing how much tip to leave at a restaurant or how much flour you need to make double the amount of cookies in a recipe, but it is the less obviously practical parts of math that are most fun for me—like considering the principles of infinity. It made me excited about life to consider the limitlessness of the mind and what we can do with it.”
Nicely put. It’s always wonderful to see women promoting math and busting up the “girls are no good at math” stereotype.