In Conversation With Sherry Lansing | Harper & Company


Is there a place you haven’t been to that you still dream of visiting?

I’m 73 and I’ve been traveling since I was a child, but I feel younger now than I have ever felt in my life. There is always someplace new that pops up, so it changes. I’m a very curious person.

Most recently, my husband [Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin] and I went to Sitges [Spain]. There was a big film festival there where my husband was being honored. I had never heard of this place. It is about 20 minutes outside Barcelona and was the most charming town in the world! I mean, you talk about food — fantastic (we ate paella every day!) — but the people, I think the people more than food, more than beauty, it is the interaction with a human being that usually affects me the most. The people were so warm and so charming, and the beaches so gorgeous. There are unlimited possibilities, and every day, my curiosity grows.

Do you have a favorite type of trip?

One of my happiest travel times is when my husband directs operas [because then] we [get to] live in a foreign country for six to eight weeks. He has done operas, many in Florence, Turin, Munich and Tel Aviv, and what happens is we move and live in an apartment. I get up every day and wander the streets. That is quite different than anything else I have ever done. And those experiences, living in the culture and being part of it, are probably the happiest times of my life.

I think travel gives you good value systems. I think it keeps your life in balance, and it lets you know that your problems are small. It gives you great gratitude. I went to Africa with the Red Cross for the measles initiative and we vaccinated the children. It is hard to come back and think that you don’t have a very blessed life.

What is your next trip?

I am particularly interested in continuing to explore the United States. A new trip [planned] is to Blackberry Farm. I hear it is a great property! I think there is so much beauty in the United States.

What can make or break a trip for you?

You want a nice hotel, you want good food, you want beauty or culture. But ultimately what makes a good experience, at the end of the day is, do you love the people you are traveling with? Did you have fun? Did you have a spiritual experience? If you’re alone, what did you see? Nature becomes more and more important.

What do you think are the most important traits to have to successfully travel alone?

Curiosity. You have to read about the place you are going to and make a checklist of what you want to see, and then you are busy every day and don’t feel alone at all. An ability to feel comfortable in your own skin is important.

What do you consider your most adventurous life decision?

I guess it was leaving Chicago when I graduated college to pursue my dreams. And then later, I married my husband after I only knew him 12 weeks. Twenty-six years later that turned out to be right. So that is another adventure.

You are known as the woman who broke the glass ceiling in the primarily male executive world of Hollywood. What have you learned through your success?

I think the movie business is tough for everybody. I think being passionate about what you do is key. If you have a passion for what you are doing, then you can’t stop. It is like falling in love. Also enjoying the process is key. I have enjoyed all the jobs I had. I was reading scripts for $5 an hour. I was really happy. I wasn’t just looking for the end result. I never thought I would run a studio.



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