Jane Fonda recalls blatantly sexist incident that triggered her acting career

Despite decades of success, Jane Fonda didn’t always want to be an actor nor did she believe she had what to it to become a Hollywood star.

Growing up as the child of actor Henry Fonda actually convinced her the life of glitz and glam wasn’t for her, but after getting fired from one of her first jobs – a secretary – she made a friend which led to the beginning of her career in Hollywood.

“He [Lee Strasberg] told me I had talent. Nobody had ever said that to me, so that kind of did it.”

TORONTO, ONTARIO – SEPTEMBER 11: Jane Fonda attends the L’Oréal In Conversation with Jane Fonda during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival held at Hotel X on September 11, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)

Fonda, whose latest film Book Club: The Next Chapter hits theaters May 12, recently spoke with People about how she got her start in acting.

“I didn’t think I had talent. I didn’t think I was pretty enough. I had a lot of body dysmorphia,” she explained, “I was pretty lost as a young person.”

The 85-year-old said despite her father being actor, she never found anything appealing about it, especially when it came to the work-life balance.

“He never brought joy home,” Fonda said. “I never felt he got joy — I believe that he did, actually — but it never manifested when he came home. So it was not like, ‘Oh my god, I want what he’s got.’ No.”

Jane Fonda

Rather than take up acting Fonda took an office job, but was fired after she refused to sleep with her boss.

Unemployed and clueless about what to do next, she became friends with Susan Strasberg, daughter of the famous acting coach, Lee Strasberg, and as the saying goes, the rest is history!

Once she was accepted into Strasberg’s class she realized she had a talent for performing.

By 1970 she had already starred in Cat Ballou, Barefoot in the Park, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Barbarella, the latter film turned her into a sex symbol. Although in May 2022 she admitted she was not the biggest fan of the film because it was a “bit objectifying of me and women.”

Fonda’s career has spanned six decades and she has received numerous awards for her acting. While the activist and actor recently celebrated her 85th birthday, she has no plans of retiring anytime soon.


Like many people, Jane Fonda struggled to figure out who she was, but in the end I think we all can agree she discovered exactly who she was meant to be.