As of late, I’ve been researching the profiles of female executives and entrepreneurs. The stories of these women absolutely killing it in their respective fields excites me and keeps me on track for achieving my own goals. That being said a fictional one has recently been on my radar…
The Devil Wears Prada has been one of my favorite movies ever since I saw it on opening weekend in 2006. As a teenager, I was more excited to see the beautiful fashions on the big screen. I also sympathized much more with Andie Sachs as portrayed by Anne Hathaway, cheering her on when she tossed her phone into a fountain in Paris and never looked back. However, as I’ve watched this film as an adult, I’ve come to find that the true hero of the film is the antagonist herself: the terrifying ice queen Miranda Priestly, as expertly embodied by Meryl Streep, a legend in her own right.
Aside from being the film’s resident “Queen of Shade” and brilliantly reading Andie to filth while offering an expert rundown of the color cerulean (which is indeed a lovely shade of blue), Priestly’s work ethic is one to be admired in real life. Clearly she didn’t get to the top spot at Runway Magazine by being a shrinking violet. It doesn’t even seem she maliciously kicked others off the ladder as she climbed it with her stilettos (although I’m sure she stepped on a few toes). Near the end of the film, she explains to Andie that the relationships that she forged with other designers, models and creatives provided the firm foundation that her magazine was built on. In all: networking and collaboration, with a healthy dose of loyalty is nine-tenths of the law.
Secondly, while on the surface Miranda’s behavior towards her assistants and employees suggests that she has unrelenting, unrealistic standards that are in place merely to set them up for failure, in truth Miranda is simply calling them to a higher standard. In the real world, no truly successful company is ran with a laissez-faire approach. Groundbreaking innovation doesn’t come from coming to the table with the obvious, such as suggesting florals for spring. Rather, a tight ship and pushing oneself and your colleagues to go above and beyond will at least 99 percent of the time guarantee a noteworthy outcome.
Even so, Miranda still managed to be human. An often overlooked scene is when she opens up just a bit to Andie regarding the details of her divorce. The usually coiffed and collected Miranda has the telltale red rings surrounding her eyes, a sign that she shed many tears and lost hours of sleep. Amid the beauty of Paris, she lets out that her grief for the separation itself pales in comparison to how this will affect her twin daughters. We’re reminded that aside from her position, she is also a mother who clearly loves her children and is not too high above to remain unaffected by adversity.
What is most admirable, though, is that just as she was on the brink of breakdown, she pulled herself together and returned to the task of finding Donatella Versace a suitable seat. She took a breath and carried on-which is a sign of immense strength and a major takeaway. In the midst of personal distress, we cannot allow it to consume us nor distract us from achieving our purpose. Rather, we must take the time to mourn, and then keep going.