Jane Fonda

Writer & Activist

Location: Los Angeles, CA

"I realized I had to stand on my own two feet and become a whole, self-validated woman. I had to define my own dreams and set about realizing them while I still had the time."

In my life, there have been a lot of "mini" Lean In moments along the way. But I think the biggest one was the day I knew I had to separate from Ted Turner. I had spent my entire life being validated by men—if he loves me I must be worth something. At 62 years old – yep, i'm an uber-late starter – I realized I had to stand on my own two feet and become a whole, self-validated woman. I had to define my own dreams and set about realizing them while I still had the time.

That decision was extremely painful because I loved Ted very much. It was also terrifying because I had left the acting profession 11 years before and hadn't a clue what my future could or should look like. But I didn't want to die without knowing who I really was. So I leaned into the unknown and it was the best thing I ever did.

There have been many things that taken place in my life since I made that decision. I now sit on the board of V Day, an organization that works to stop violence against women. I also co-founded Women's Media Center with Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan, which is focused on sharing the global voices of women in an industry that is traditionally led by men. I've also taken up a personal practice of yoga and Pilates, both of which have helped me heal in numerous ways.

Over time, I've realized I am not alone. I am with myself and finally able to identify who I am—on my own terms. I am now in my early 70s and better than ever. I'm determined to make my Third Act one that's worth remembering.