Underneath Her Beauty

Born to an English father and Dutch mother in Belgium, May 4th 1929, Audrey Hepburn has proven herself to be one of the most strong, beautiful and eminent women in the 20th century.

In 1935, her parents divorced due to her dad being a Nazi sympathiser, and Audrey later admitted this to be the most traumatic incident in her life. Four years later in 1939 Audrey’s mother moved the whole family to Arnhem in the Netherlands where she thought it would be safe from the Nazi invasion. However, one year later in 1940, the Netherlands fell under Nazi occupation until liberation in 1945. During this same time Audrey attended Arnhem conservatory where she took up ballet and began to consider ballet as a serious career occupation. It was said she would often dance in different locations to help raise money for the underground movement. After the war, Audrey left Arnhem conservatory and went to London where she continued to practice ballet. However, due to her height and malnutrition during the war she was unable to dance at the high level she needed too, to become an amazing ballerina. And unfortunately the war did not only affect her physical ability, but she could never forget seeing train loads of Jewish children being herded into cattle trucks for deportation.


“I have memories. More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon.”

Nevertheless Audrey had survived the war and she now had to find a new occupation due her inability to become a professional dancer. So, Audrey began to seek roles as an actress. She started off with several minor roles in films such as The Lavender Hill Mob, but soon after Audrey was chosen to play Gigi a hit West end play. In 1952, during the filming of her first movie, Secret People, a film about a prodigy ballerina, she was spotted by director William Wyler. He thought the innocence and beauty of Audrey Hepburn would make a perfect choice for the English Princess in the film he was producing, Roman Holiday. The film was a great hit and in many respects, Audrey outshone her more illustrious lead Gregory Peck and as predicted it was Audrey who was given an Oscar for her performance.

This film established her place in Hollywood’s elite, giving her the opportunity play against many of the leading actors/actresses of the time. And she soon became one of Hollywood’s great stars of the 1950s and 1960s, not that she let that get to her head. She was perfectly happy to stay home and spend time with her family and stray away from the world of fame for a day.

In 1959, she stared in The Nun’s Story, which was quite different from her other roles. It was challenging portrayal of a young nun, Sister Luke, who not only trained to be a novice nun before spending time as a missionary in the Congo, but also faces a painful spiritual dilemma as she returns to Belgium and the Nazi occupation. The film proved to have many similarities to Audrey’s own life and it was able to capture her multi faceted acting talents.

After 15 years, in 1967, Audrey spent more time working with UNICEF, as well as spending quality time with her family. She was appointed as a special ambassador to UNICEF and not only did she soon became very involved in campaigns to help improve conditions for children all over the world, but she also visited street children in South America.


“I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children, not because there isn’t tons of food sitting in the northern port of Shoa.”

January 1993, after returning from Somalia in 1992, she had developed cancer of the colon and sadly the disease had proven to be untreatable. Soon after, she died in Switzerland at the age of 63. But in her lifetime Audrey Hepburn proved that she knew no limits and fought through hard times to help those in need as well as continuing to learn and try harder rather than just settling for what she had, which, in my opinion, shows the true characteristics of an eminent person.

At first glance Audrey and I may not appear very similar and you might wonder why I chose her as my eminent person. For example, I can tell you right now that I have very limited talent when it comes to dancing and acting, but it wasn’t her fame as an amazing actor that stuck with me, it was the effort she put into making something of herself and her life, as well as what came after her acting career. Audrey could have continued acting for the rest of her days and we still would have remembered her as one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, but she instead was willing to slowly part with the acting industry and continue to do something with her life to help other people all over the world. As I grow up I aspire to always continue to put effort into my work and never settle with what I have, I aspire to always continue to learn and grow and do what I can to better our world.

For this project my personal goal is to become more confident in public speaking, as well as managing my time better to release the stress of having all my work unfinished the night before and having to pull an all-nighter to complete my work thoroughly. I plan on attempting to accomplish a small amount of the project each week and hopefully this will give me more time to prepare my speech, which will take away some of the stress of public speaking and forgetting chances of the speech.