Writer, filmmaker, and all-around amazing lady, Nora Ephron. Photo: indiewire.com
Last night, writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron passed away in New York City at the age of 71. Ephron was famous for some of the most memorable romantic comedies of our era, including Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and most recently, Julie and Julia. Her presence will be sorely missed.
In light of recent debates about women having it all and breaking down barriers, it bears noting Ephron’s many accomplishments. She was a journalist, an essayist, and a blogger, as well as an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and film director. Regardless of your feelings about Ephron’s movies, it’s indisputable that she was a groundbreaking, incredibly influential woman. She rose through the ranks of Hollywood and became a power player in a time when men dominated the industry (arguably they still dominate the industry), and much of her work in movies has shaped romantic comedies as we know them today.
Ephron’s writing celebrates the quirky, individualistic aspects of women everywhere—both young and old. Case in point: her 2006 collection of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, where she jauntily addresses an oft-glossed over part of being a middle-aged woman; and the epic, feather-ruffling scene from When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan shows Billy Crystal how well women can fake orgasms in the middle of Katz’s Deli. By lovingly embracing these relatable characteristics in her writing and films, Ephron gave a generation of young women powerful images of goofy, funny, intelligent, and ultimately respected adult females. Her films definitely made an impression on me growing up.
Ephron was a 1962 graduate of Wellesley College, a women’s institution that also embraces strong, individualistic women—and a place where she is generally considered an alumna to look up to for her successes as well as her powerful words. (Full disclosure, I am also a Wellesley alumna.) In 1996, she gave the commencement speech at graduation, and for all the tough, unique, brilliant young women out there, here are a few more of Ephron’s inspiring words to live by:
Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.
For more on Nora Ephron, read her full obituary in the New York Times.