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10/01/2014 10:34 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ali MacGraw On The Best Thing About Getting Older (VIDEO)

For decades, iconic actress Ali MacGraw considered herself a people pleaser. Now, at age 75, MacGraw has no problem telling it straight. When she recently sat down with Oprah on "Super Soul Sunday," the "Love Story" actress not only had a new look, but an entirely fresh perspective.

"You've said that one of the greatest gifts of maturation is being able to say 'no thank you,'" Oprah says in the above video.

"Or sometimes, just 'no.' Which is really great," MacGraw says.

In the past, MacGraw says she couldn’t turn down plans or be forthcoming in fear of being disliked. "It's such a trap," she says. "And I was in it for decades."

MacGraw was born in New York, the daughter of two well-educated but struggling commercial artists. She says her father often drank too much and at times physically abused her younger brother. Determined to "fix" the family chaos, MacGraw became what she calls "perfect with a capital P." She attended Wellesley College on a scholarship, became an assistant for fashion legend Diana Vreeland and had a meteoric rise to fame in Hollywood.

Because of the way she grew up, MacGraw says the simple act of saying "no" was the lesson that took her the longest to learn. In the past, she thought nothing of saying "yes" when she really meant "no."

"We were told a white lie is OK," MacGraw says. "I did so much manipulation. Not out of meanness, but I thought that's the way you were supposed to be."

Oprah agrees. "What I've learned is that white lies are really big lies to yourself," she says. "That is a betrayal of yourself. There are no white lies to yourself."

"Super Soul Sundays" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Ali MacGraw's Style Evolution
CONVERSATIONS