Five Life Lessons I Learned from Andie MacDowell in Dubai

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Beautiful doesn't even begin to describe the stylish, intelligent, kind and funny Andie MacDowell. I've always been convinced that while it's easy to be pretty at twenty, our real strength as women is in remaining beautiful in our forties -- and beyond. Show me a pretty girl and I'm thinking "yeah but what will you look like at my age?"

MacDowell's beauty, the strength of her charisma and that sense of owning it when she walks into a room comes from the hurdles she's overcome, it turns out.

Taking part in a masterclass at the Dubai International Film Festival put together by the network OSN and representing Sundance, an organization, festival, film and TV distribution platform all rolled into one, MacDowell was clearly the star. And as a true star, unafraid of sharing her vulnerable side, she disclosed her pain and talked about her past. In particular, that Greystoke moment of her life, when she had stepped into the role of a serious actress after conquering the modeling world only to see her voice dubbed in the film by Glenn Close. To this day, I still don't get why, since the South Carolina native sports one of the most lovely, charming voices I've ever heard. But then that's me, I admire real women.

Sitting across from the stunning MacDowell felt surreal, especially in the crisp Dubai air, surrounded by a calm silence during a bustling festival. I walked away feeling inspired and invigorated and when I saw her at lunch the next day, I myself felt vulnerable in her presence. Hearing her talk during the masterclass about how the Greystoke experience could have destroyed her and how proud she feels of how far she's come since then, really hit a chord. Are we who we are because of our failures or in spite of them? Or is success, as she said, "perseverance and preparation equals luck"? The answers may come to me, but for now I'm left with the guiding light of her words and the motivation to keep going. All thanks to Andie MacDowell.

Here are the highlights of her life lessons.

Do women really help each other or are we part of the problem when it comes to the diversity game?

Andie MacDowell: I think we have been part of the problem. I think we need to stop, and be better advocates for each other. And not competitive. I think maybe it's something in our DNA, and change is difficult because you are so accustomed to certain patterns in your life. You're taught something and whether you recognize it or not, I think it's in your subliminal mind that you are not conscious of. Certain behaviors, and so you just behave in a way because it's how you've been or how your mother was, or something you learned at four, five or six. I think all of those ways of reasoning, of being in a culture, in a society are so ingrained -- it's hard to change! It's hard to make that shift. And the reason things are changing now is because the process started really young, in how we treated our children. It was different from how our parents treated us, how our mothers treated us, and our mothers tolerated even more difficulties.

Do you feel right now that you're a sort of an ambassador here, with your beauty, your charm and this sense of humor which made us all joyful today. Coming to the Arab world from Trump America, do you feel the need to build bridges?

Andie MacDowell: Somebody has got to do it. You know! Definitely. I'm so cautious, I have two sisters who are Republicans, and so I just think there is such a naiveté in America. I wish everyone could travel, they would learn so much about the world if they'd just travel. They would understand so much more. But we'll see what happens.

As the face of L'Oreal, do you feel the pressure, the responsibility to empower women?

Andie MacDowell: Interesting. A friend of mine and I have been doing some research on the power of the Baby Boomers and Generation X, which is a somehow overlooked market. And it's fascinating, because I know we have always been obsessed with youth. Youth as the appearance of what a young person is, seems to be idolized. People idolize it and leave in such fear of age. I find it fascinating. I wonder sometimes if it has to do with dying, which I'm not really hooked up on, I don't have this gigantic fear. I have no desire to die, because I have children and would like to have grandkids, but I wonder sometimes why we are so obsessed with youth. And the market for Baby Boomers and Gen X is so much more powerful than the Millennials and I think we get excluded. And there is a certain frustration that is happening with that generation, where they're going "what about us?!" And we have a lot of money, a lot of time and we do care about ourselves and what about us? I do think it's an overlooked generation and a market that people are missing out on. We're more powerful, the Baby Boomers, because there are more of us, we're enormous. And mix it with Generation X and we're huge. You are talking about the large majority of the people on earth.

Do you remember the best piece of advice you've given your daughters?

Andie MacDowell: They would say that what I always tell them to do is breathe. Which is really important (I find myself taking a deep breath, as the actress says this, and we laugh!) to remember to do. In an audition I would say just remember to breathe. If you do, you'll relax, so I think that's a really big one.

Did your mother give the same advice to you?

Andie MacDowell: My mother died when I was 23, so it was a very short... I didn't get to see her that much towards the end, the last three years, which was really sad. I was gone a lot... My mother, the best advice she told me was I could do whatever I wanted to do. I believed her.

Photo by Getty Images, courtesy of DIFF and used by permission.