Legendary actress Diane Keaton has received the AFI Life Achievement Award. Much beloved, she was feted at a star-studded event by Hollywood luminaries, including co-stars and former lovers, who celebrated her brilliant career.

During a visit to Dallas a few years ago, she generously conducted an intimate Q&A session with theater and communications students at SMU in conjunction with her talk at the Tate Lecture Series.

The Diane Keaton who commandeered the college classroom was savvy and assertive. Witty and wise. More Murphy Brown than Annie Hall. She proffered lots of very smart counsel for anyone of any age — whether you are pursuing a career or personal passion.

Highlights from the lecture

“Observe other people. It makes your life more interesting.”

On aging and plastic surgery:

“When you get older, whatever happens, it’s not going to be good!”

Describing herself at age 21:

“I was undeveloped mentally. I wanted to have lots of men love me. I wanted to be a movie star. I had lots of dreams, but they were really small.”

Regarding The Godfather:

”At 23, I didn’t understand the concept of a big movie. I was out of my league. Everyone was in awe of Marlon Brando. I didn’t even see the finished movie until I was 41. When I saw it I thought, wow this is a great movie!”

On gamechangers:

”Annie Hall changed my life. It gave me all the opportunities I ever had. I got a lot of work from Annie Hall.”

Career advice for Hollywood hopefuls (also relevant for PrimeWomen pursuing something new):

”You have to hang in there. Stay with it. Keep going. There is a LOT of rejection. Do you feel like you have tenacity? What are your instincts? Will it work out? Ask the right questions. Be a smart person.”

Diane Keaton’s secret for success:

“Luck. Preparation and opportunity. I made inroads. I am a hard worker. Be prepared for the opportunities. Grab them.”

Is fame worth it?

“YES. YES. No question. There are complexities. You have to live up to expectations. But it gives opportunities to explore other realms of life. ”

Maintain a life outside of your career.

“I have a lot of interests and hobbies – architecture, directing, writing. You can always find time to do something. If it interests you, DO IT!”

On Jack Nicholson [dish alert!]:

”I love Jack, but I’m glad I’m not in love with Jack.”

On the lures of her chosen field:

”It’s the best. It’s an adventure. You get to kiss men!”

Read more here.

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About The Author

Nancy Keene

Nancy Keene is founder of The Perfect Fit, a leadership consultancy. She advises CEOs of entrepreneurial and MidCap companies on talent upgrades and succession planning. She is a keynote speaker and program planner on work/life success strategies and developer of The Changeometerâ„¢ decision-making tool. Because of her career foundation launching new companies and technologies and, later, executive search, she is an expert in pinpointing competitive advantage and packaging a powerful message that breaks through the clutter and delivers results with discerning high-impact decision-makers - from national media, CEOs and high-caliber talent pools, including millennials! She has worked in global best practice organizations, including PricewaterhouseCoopers. Nancy loves sharing her business/career insights and research. She is passionate about seeing women succeed - in whatever pursuit they choose. She is a news junkie and Pilates aficionado. She can be reached through nancy@keeneperfectfit.com, her website, and LinkedIn.